In November of 2019, Icelandic singer/songwriter Ouse collaborated with Canadian rapper Powfu on the intensely poignant “Dead Eyes.” The song became a streaming darling, cracking the 36 million mark on Spotify alone. It’s a testament to Ouse’s uncanny ability to tap into human emotions with a single lyric, galvanizing a fan base of listeners eager for more. For the last several years, Ouse has carved a lane for himself, crafting songs that hover over emo hip-hop and pop while simultaneously traveling to other sonic dimensions. It’s arguably the 19-year-old wunderkind’s superpower, and as he readies his next project Crying In Camo, Ouse is geared to make more music that speaks to the soul.
Born in a village, just three hours shy of the Icelandic capital Reykjavík, Ouse had a regular small town childhood. “Everyone just knows everyone,” he explains. “Parents would just let the kids do whatever, because there was no danger, really.” Music was always a part of his life: his grandmother was a singer and a songwriter and she passed that talent down to his father. “I have memories of going to my grandmother’s house and watching her play the piano and singing songs,” the young artist recalls. That gift was later passed down to Ouse.
For the early part of his childhood, Ouse was simply a fan of music, listening to hip-hop artists like Eminem and independent rapper Hopsin, before later listening to the likes of emo rappers like the late Juice WRLD and XXXTentacion. “I would listen to pop, classical music, indie, just about everything,” he adds. “But it’s always been mostly hip-hop.”
By the time he reached his preteen years, he started struggling with anxiety and began making music as a form of self-therapy. “I think I was around like 12 when my dad got me a Mac Mini,” he says, “and that’s when I started creating songs.” It began with crafting instrumentals, where Ouse uploaded one to Facebook, followed by YouTube. He built a community of fans over Fortnite, while making beats for his friends as well. “I reached a point where I didn’t want to just create instrumentals,” Ouse remembers, “so I started singing and rapping over my own beats.” His momentum started building.
2018’s Loners Diary was a landmark moment for Ouse, as the project was anchored by the song “Lovemark,” which alone has a staggering 17 million streams. Things started happening quickly. “All the numbers kept getting bigger and bigger,” he says. “I guess when I got like a million monthly listeners on Spotify, that was when I knew that this was something crazy.” His track “Dead Eyes” followed a year later, and labels had begun to take notice. Ouse signed a deal with 12Tone Music earlier this year and plans to head into 2021 with a whole new project. The project is an amalgam of all of the parts that define Ouse. From raw emotions and honest lyricism to experimenting with sounds that live at the intersection of emo and hip-hop, Ouse is once again letting his listeners into his life.
At the heart of his art, Ouse is still making music as his own form of therapy, but in doing so has managed to help the world around him. It’s now become his mission on the road to stardom. “I guess my goal is to help as many people as I can,” he advises. “When I make music that expresses how I’m feeling, I know someone out there is feeling that way too and hopefully it makes them feel less alone.”