O/RIOH: »I needed to allow my past to exist again«.

Musician, producer and songwriter O/RIOH spent many years feeling conflicted about her past. But on her new album ‘COMPLEX’ she writes about how it often is the conflicts, the nuances and the complexities that make us who we are.

Cred: Sofi Hellberg Olsson

O/RIOH had already lived a big chunk of her life, when she discovered that the heteronormative box she had been living in until then, didn’t fit her. Actually, she hadn’t even been aware of there being any kind of box and that there might be an alternative.

Musician, producer, songwriter and musician O/RIOH grew up in a small town in northern Jutland and at the age of 25, when she attended the music conservatory of Aarhus, she fell in love with a person who wasn’t a man. Since then she has been unpacking the »queer life« that she is living today.

But the relatively late discovery of her own sexuality also came with a lot of anger. An anger inside O/RIOH herself, directed towards her upbringing and the people around her, who never had explained to her that relationships come in a ton of different shapes and sizes.

»First of all it was difficult for me, because I had to find out what was going on inside me. And I had to be confronted with my family and friends and their experience of the changes I was going through. Secondly, I was left with a feeling of having lived in a false reality that I had to discover and ‘escape’ on my own. The whole situation ended up with me moving to Berlin to get some distance from it all«.

The only queer in the class room

During the last eight years, where O/RIOH has been openly queer, she has slowly adjusted to her new life, and the anger she used to bear, has slowly faded. O/RIOH has come to a place where she looks back at her past, hometown, and upbringing with great care and tenderness. And even though she has changed and grown, her past is still closely connected to her.

»When I came back from Berlin, I needed to allow my past to exist again, and to be able to approach without anger. I went to this reunion with people I went to school with, and I knew then, that I was going to be the only queer person in the class room. But it ended up being such a nice experience. I felt reunited with something that had shaped me as a person but which I had tucked away behind a closed door. Suddenly the door opened, and I found out that there was a lot of love and a huge part of my identity hidden in there. And I found out that everything wasn’t lost or forgotten, even though I had changed. The good things that happened in my school were still good and true even though I also experienced a lot of bullshit. Both things can coexist«.

O/RIOH’s forthcoming album is about embracing all the nuances and complexities that are found in almost everything. You can be a part of a radical queer community and still feel a deep connection to your small hometown where no one knows what ‘queer’ even means. For that reason O/RIOH’s album has been given the name ‘COMPLEX’, and most of the songs come in two parts. That underlines how there are always two sides to things. There is always a ‘Part 1’ and a ‘Part 2’. Probably a lot more.

‘COMPLEX’ is out through W.A.S. Entertainment November 19th 2021.