Oliver Scott Draper: Stranger Than Fiction
Written by Eric Mitts. Photo of Oliver Scott Draper by Jordan Wiggington.


Much like his direct influences in indefinable indie bands Ween and The Unicorns, Grand Rapids singer-songwriter Oliver Scott Draper has crafted something of a lore around his origins. 

But like most things on the Internet, it turns out his true story is even harder to believe.

Telling stories of meeting a “little man that lived in the wall” of his basement who bought his first guitar, or meeting a “shadowy stranger” at a crossroads in the middle of the night when he was 13, who made a deal to inspire his earliest songwriting, Draper veils his real life work as a prolific artist with surreal fantasy. 

Starting out self-recording in his teens, Draper released a slew of self-released albums online over the past eight years, where he played nearly all of the instruments himself.

Venturing into the worlds of lo-fi pop, garage rock and psychedelic music, he has prided himself on taking musical 180s, changing direction with each new offering.

“So my first album, Get Well Soon, there’s not really any digital instruments, it’s just the iPad microphone and a bunch of different things, including whatever was in my band room at my middle school,” Draper said of his early beginnings. “I genuinely just think the best thing to do is just to make something that you want to listen to.”

His upcoming album, entitled Cordelia (due out May 16), will mark his first “official” release with local Grand Rapids-based label and management company, Midwest Gold.

The album comes after Draper overcame a bout of writer’s block that made him slow down and eventually decide to work and collaborate with other people.

Working with Ryne Clarke (co-founder of Midwest Gold and also frontman of local Lowell-based band The Ryne Experience) at his home studio, Draper said he actually lived at the house for almost a week working on the album.

“Honestly, it’s almost like a duo in a way, because he did a play on maybe two thirds, three quarters of the album, like here and there, different instruments,” Draper said. “And then my girlfriend Jordan Wigginton  plays bass on all the songs, and drummer Jamie Thompson from The Unicorns actually played on the album as well, which was exciting because we’ve been friends since I randomly reached out when I was like 14.”

Telling a tale of meeting Thompson during a trip to Northeast Canada for a “winter horse ride thing they were doing,” Draper said he braved a freezing storm, walking for miles in the woods before stumbling on the cabin door of none other than Thompson, where they recorded the drums on the spot.

Nearly a half dozen other musicians appear on the 12-song album, including Conrad Schaak (of Conrad Shock and the Noise), Joe Schimmelmann, Nik Roz, and Mitchell and Charity Evink.

“It’s been awesome having their support, and having people believe in me feels good,” Draper said of working with other musicians, and Midwest Gold as a label. “I’m excited to play at the Park Theatre again. I did an open mic there once, and it’s a nice space, and I’m glad that it got revitalized, and is what it is now. And I’m excited to be going there again and playing a full show. I’ve got some things in mind for that. (Releasing) a whole single, and making a music video and planning it out and everything makes me feel more legit.”

Bringing his fantastical world into reality, Draper finally has a live band that he’ll perform with as well. He tentatively has plans to play a show in Detroit, and aims to tour around Midwest college towns soon.

He, of course, has more music coming too.

“There were a couple that I might end up doing in other aspects or outlets with other people,” he said. “Maybe adapt with other people and do as a separate project. I want to do a lot more of that, and I do have something in mind… All I can say is it’ll be different. Extremely different, and maybe a little weird, which is, I guess, sort of expected. But I’m going to take a hard left turn with that one, and then take another hard right turn... I do have some songs for a country album, so expect that at some point as well. Those are the two big ones.”

Midwest Gold Presents: Oliver Scott Draper

Cordelia Album Release

Wsg. Lefty

Park Theatre, 248 S. River Ave., Holland

May 16, 7 p.m. $10

Parktheatreholland.org, oliverscottdraper.bandcamp.com