Exclusive Interview: Winona Oak Shares Thoughts Behind “Island of The Sun”

Rising, critically-acclaimed singer and songwriter, Winona Oak, unveiled her eagerly anticipated single, “Island of the Sun,” on Friday, February 18th, paired with breathtaking visuals in a music video. Produced by Chris Lyon (The Chainsmokers x Winona Oak, Rina Sawayama, AlunaGeorge x Bryson Tiller) and Valley Girl (Dua Lipa, Caroline Polachek), “Island of the Sun” heralds the upcoming arrival of the acclaimed songstress’s much anticipated debut album, ISLAND OF THE SUN, due later this year. 

About the release, she commented:

This song was created on a sunny evening in Los Angeles when I was going through a really tough time and felt more homesick than ever. I grew up on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 5360 miles from LA in the middle of the Nordic forests of Sweden on a small island called Solens ö, a.k.a. Island of the Sun. The island works as a metaphor for a place when everything’s peaceful and simple. Like that time in your childhood when the world is only as big and beautiful as you make it, you know as we grow older we tend to complicate things. I want the island to represent a happy place in ourselves or in a relationship, a bittersweet yearning for a place we ache to go again.

~ Winona Oak

“Island of the Sun” follows Winona Oak’s 2021 collaboration with breakout bedroom pop star ELIO, “Nobody Loves Me,” released in celebration of International Women’s Day, along with a string of other releases throughout the year– including “Old Insecurities,”  and 2020’s sophomore EP release, featuring title track, “SHE“ and “Winter Rain.” The single bathes a look into the light of Winona’s world, who shares the personal love and wonder behind her hometown and the magic it holds.

While reminiscing on personal memories from her childhood, the track’s vulnerability stacks up to previous releases, allowing fans to connect and build on their own experiences and to look back into the magic of nostalgia and the hope it brings. Throughout the beautifully crafted music video, captured in her home island in Sweden, we sense the swell of warmth in her gaze as each word that is sung lingers in the ears long after the song has completed in playing.

Winona Oak’s “Island of the Sun” [official music video]

Winona will celebrate her releases, new and old, with her widest-ranging North American tour thus far. The dates – supporting British alt-pop duo, Oh Wonder – begin May 8th at Toronto, ON’s History and then continue through the month.

8 – Toronto, ON – History
10 – Montreal, QC – Mtelus
11 – Boston, MA – House of Blues
13 – Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
14 – Philadelphia, PA – Theatre of Living Arts (TLA)
15 – Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Steel
17 – Chicago, IL – The Vic Theatre
18 – Minneapolis, MN – First Theatre
20 – Denver, CO – Ogden Theatre
21 – Salt Lake City, UT – The Depot
23 – Seattle, WA – Showbox SoDo
24 – Vancouver, BC – Vogue Theater
25 – Portland, OR – Roseland Theater
28 – Oakland, CA – Fox Theater
29 – Anaheim, CA – House of Blues
31 – Los Angeles, CA – The Wiltern

Read our exclusive Q+A about the process behind the single, below!

What was it like to visit home again for the recording of the music video?

  • I loved every minute of it. It’s almost like I got to see it through the eyes of the world and was able to appreciate it all over again. I had the best crew of friends and family with me and we spent our days going on fun adventures while shooting and I just wanted to stay in that bubble forever, I didn’t want to leave.

What is an “Island of the Sun” to you and how was that phrase brought into fruition for the track? What inspired you to write the single?

  • ”Island of the Sun” is named after the island where I grew up in the middle of the Nordic forests in Sweden. I wrote it on a sunny day in LA when I was feeling more homesick than ever. The island represents a happy and peaceful place within myself and/or in a relationship. ”My island” is a place where everything is simple, like that time in my childhood when the world was only as big and beautiful as I made it. It’s a bittersweet yearning for a place I ache to go again.

You mentioned your childhood of horseback riding in our previous interview; tell me about how their introduction in the video played a role in executing the message of the track and video; as well as other elements of winter, the snowmobile, puffy snow coats, and the snowy landscape.

  • I wanted to show the listeners the world that I grew up in. My beautiful winter wonderland, a frozen paradise and a Swedish summer dream. These elements had a big impact on me and the way that my brain is wired, I used to spend hours playing in the nature, riding horses and just creating my own universe. Being out in the middle of the forest is still one of the few places where I feel really safe and sound.

There is a contrast of the title, seemingly comparing the icy cold terrain as “paradise” on the surface level; which I found really special and unique. Did you have the comparison of the mid-winter cold and the sun in mind when writing the single? If so, how, and why? Why did you choose to film the video in the dead of winter in your hometown?

  • There’s kind of a of nostalgic longing in the song, almost like you’re visiting a frozen paradise. ”When was the light replaced, now it’s all ice in rain… paint me with color again, like it was summer again”. You are getting close and you are touching the surface but it’s still so far away. I also love the fact that the island is named ”island of the sun” despite the fact that you barley see the sun half of the year, I think I learned pretty early on to enjoy that light from above while I had it and I remembered to always keep it within me.

What does this track offer in comparison to your work in the past as you continue this chapter in your music journey?

  • It invites the listeners deeper into my personal universe, they get to follow me all the way back to the roots. There’s also elements of this track that kind of sets the vibe of the rest of the album.. without revealing too much hehe.

You’re about to embark on a tour. What are some thoughts that are going through your mind as you prepare to perform in front of an audience again?

  • It’s been so long now, I can’t believe this tour was supposed to happen 2 years ago (??). I am scared and beyond excited at the same time. I can’t wait to share my music live in real life with actual human beings again. It’s a feeling that’s hard to beat. Just seeing their beautiful faces in the crowd, the excitement, the love. I just hope that I won’t let my nerves get too my head too much, I’m gonna try to just focus on having fun and doing what I love.

Stream “Island of the Sun,” now available on all major listening platforms, and stay tuned for more news about Winona Oak!

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