As the New York City stop on Kota the Friend’s Flight Night Festival approaches, it is essential to remember the true purpose of the tour, and of the fltbys brand. That mission is restated in a fltbys Instagram Post:
“Ever since 2008 we’ve been giving people the opportunity to get on stage, when no one else was giving the opportunity,” said Kota. “Fltbys has always been a young company of people who just want to do something but have no platform.”
Embracing the concept of connecting up-and-coming talent to their community, we will showcase a stacked lineup of opening acts in NYC, before Kota takes the stage at Sony Hall on July 22nd and 23rd. Soulful and profound singer Hello O’shay will join the fray, fresh off a vibrant feature on Kota’s Soho House from new album Memo.
Hello O’shay is as New York as it gets, and enthusiastically shared his relationship with the city he calls home. “I was born in the Bronx, the birthplace of hip hop, but I spent the majority of my childhood in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. You could say I’m a New Yorker’s New Yorker. I have family in every Borough.”
This close-knit relationship with his city reflects itself in his music. O’shay’s sound is charming and contemporary, dynamic and diverse, rich with history and self-awareness, much like his city. The Sony Hall Crowd will embrace O’shay as 1.) It will be brimming with friends and family and 2.) The soul of New York City co-produced, mixed and mastered his discography.
O’shay has been an integral part of several of Kota the Friend’s biggest hits. From his luscious vocal layering on Long Beach, to his delicate intonation on tender FOTO track Birdie, he will forever be tied to one of hip hop’s most prominent independent icons. However, it would be a huge mistake to box him in as a “just a Kota feature”, as his solo art is just as powerful.
The best word to describe O’shay’s music is approachable. His tendency as a songwriter, and performer are to create sounds that are warm, charismatic and congenial. Vocal presentation varies, from gritty and sincere to downright palatial. It’s challenging to pinpoint a preferred instrumental type for Hello O’shay. He seems just as comfortable on a boom-bap hip hop beat, as a soul-infused slow jam. What remains consistent though is his proficiency at matching tone to beat seamlessly, as if his vocals were built directly into the beat.
O’shay described a breakthrough moment using his voice as an instrument, and the track that made that technique a staple. “The track that started it all was ‘FND IT’. It’s one of those songs that helped me find my sound. In the song I use my voice as a background instrument. Since creating ‘FND IT’ I’ve used that technique in many other songs. It’s always a crowd favorite at live shows, so I’m definitely performing that at Flight Night.”
While Fnd It is the source of Hello O’shay’s unique spin on sonic texture, he has exhibited that skill-set on several tracks since. 2021 single The Color Yellow, exemplifies this beautifully, as the intro segment plays O’shay’s vocal harmonies against a harsh scratching sound built into the instrumental. This dissonance creates organic conflict, which is very much matched thematically and lyrically. “She was gone with the wind/I was torn from within/No this ain’t for pretend.”
Hello O’shay’s talents matching sound with lyrics create an authenticity to his discography, a palpable honesty.
As we speak to the independent artists from NYC Flight Night, a common refrain is difficulty on the business side. Reaching a target audience can be another struggle, especially while focusing on the creative. O’shay echoed those thoughts, with an honest take on his challenges as an indie act.
“A few of my greatest challenges have been finding/building a team that understands me. Finding the best way to brand and market myself to reach my ideal audience while keeping myself from being boxed in (as just an artist/engineer/singer/producer/rapper/etc.)”
These hurdles seem to be consistent. That said, Flight Night has grown a reputation as a true launching point for independent musicians. Drawing fans, industry executives, and media attention, Flight Night could be a career cheat code for a budding star like Hello O’shay.
Hello O’shay’s performance career began at a familiar place. “My first ever performance as a music artist was at Flight Night July 2012 at this bar in Brooklyn called The Five Spot. That’s 10 years ago exactly, Kota didn’t go by Kota yet and I wasn’t a singer yet haha, I was rapping. I was in a group with my younger brother and that Night I was sure that I would be on stage for the rest of my life. So performing at Flight Night is a full circle moment for me.”
Ten years later, Hello O’shay is back on a New York City stage with Kota. A lot changes in ten years. Millions of streams later, the dynamic partnership will again bless a NYC audience with a musical night to remember.
Stay tuned as we will be highlighting each local act on the roster for New York City Flight Night. Limited tickets are available for the second night (Saturday, July 23rd.)