SXSW Sound Style: The Afrofuturism of OSHUN

With a blazing blend of hip-hop and R&B, OSHUN scorched the stage at the RAS Day South by Southwest showcase on Tuesday night. The show was a jubilant affair, an epic soul shakedown from a group that’s ready to burst out of the underground in a very big way.

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Thandiwe and Niambi Sala, the duo behind Oshun. Erika Rich/For American-Statesman

Niambi Sala and Thandiwe, the duo behind the project, began working on music together a few years ago as freshmen at New York University. With their 2015 mixtape, “Asase Yaa,” they caught national buzz, but balancing music and school was a challenge. They graduated last May, and now that they are able to focus on the project full time, their debut album should be coming in the next month or so.

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We caught up with the group to talk about their striking look for Sound Style, our series that explores the way female artists incorporate the idea of image into their work.

Oshun. Erika Rich/For American-Statesman

Austin360: How would you describe your personal style?

Niambi Sala: Comfortable.

Thandiwe: Multidimensional.

Niambi Sala: Oooh, I like that. There’s not one way that we dress. We do have a particular steez, I think. There’s a vibe, but it’s not like, “OK, I only wear this, I only wear that.” I think (our style) just evolved.

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Oshun. Erika Rich for American-Statesman

Who are your style icons?

Niambi Sala: Missy Elliot is our main style icon. Even Mary J. Blige is a style icon. Beyoncé is just serving looks for all of us for our lives so that’s big. Also, Kehlani has been doing major fashion moves.

How does the idea of image intersect with your art?

Thandiwe: We’re storytellers, so our image it can either help the story– it can make the characters clearer — or it can make it very difficult to understand and follow what we’re trying to say. With this album in particular, we were very clear that Afrofuturism is a huge part. We really wanted to be futuristic. We really wanted people to understand us not being from here. Really taking it out there and so even if we’re just here, very casual, very flashy, we still have the eyes so that it’s clear. We don’t have to explain it. Our style can speak for it.

Niambi Sala: We come from the OSHUNiverse, the land of sweetness, and we’ve come to earth to bring that sweetness and to restore love, restore hydration

Oshun. Erika Rich/For American-Statesman

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