July 14, 2020 – Los Angeles based indie electro artist Onsen shares his full-length album Keeper
today. It mines the fertile grounds of past relationships, dreams, and grappling with self-doubt. “I think people, and maybe queer people even more so, become engrossed with their romantic relationships because they act as a proxy for their own sense of self-worth. Maybe if this other person loves me I will love myself,” says Drew Straus aka Onsen. “This record was a space to keep all those doubts and expose them to the daylight. In a sense, each song is asking ‘am I a keeper?’”
In a time dominated by online applications and quick fixes, Onsen opts for a more visceral and emotional approach to love, reaching a wide range of emotions and adventures that culminate into one incredible album from start to finish. With Keeper, Onsen finds truth in the past.
Keeper features Onsen’s previously released singles “Momma Said,” “Be There,” “The March,” “Golden Heart,” “See Me Now,” and “Charming Nights” which charted at #3 on KROQ’s Locals Only and was featured on Sia’s playlist of recommended new music. Keeper was co-produced by GRAMMY-nominated producer Brook D’Leau and has received praise from Flaunt, Nylon, American Songwriter, Atwood, Variance, Buzzbands and more.
“As a whole, Keeper take on a lot of queer themes,” shares Onsen. “The love songs are addressing male partners. In some songs like ‘The March’ and ‘Momma Said’ that’s explicit. In others, the lyrics don’t mention a gender (since they’re in the second person) but they take on experiences that are common to many queer people: self-doubt, longing, the intensity of a first love that is often delayed, the feeling after that of being forever changed, and eventually the tenderness you can have in love when you feel most yourself. That said many of those feelings are universal. I hope that no matter who listens to the record, they see parts of themselves in it.” Someone once described queer music as “sad music that sounds happy” which can describe many of the songs on this record.
The album starts in a dream, with the ethereal intro track “Moving In.” Onsen says, “The whole thing, lyrics and all, appeared in a dream: I was walking into a huge glowing orb in the middle of an endless room. As long as I walked, I could never quite reach the center. I woke up and voice recorded the song.” Each song that follows is like its own chapter in a novel that feels honest, vulnerable and heartfelt in a way that only Onsen can deliver. Amongst the previously released tracks are a slew of unreleased gems that deal with lust, love, excitement and loss. Rounding out the new record is the final track “Already Gone” which sums up the story as a final statement to Onsen’s history thus far. He concludes that the song is “to all the ones I’ve loved (or desired) and lost. Assemble them together and let me sing this to them. While some of the lines are specific it’s an accumulation or composite of who I’ve been with. The outro is sung equally to myself as to those lovers past.”