Born Johanna Ekmark, Winona Oak is an up-and-coming Solleron, Sweden-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and pop artist. Oak has had one of the most unique backstories I’ve come across in some time. Growing up on the small Swedish island known as the Island of the Sun, the Solleron-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and pop artist grew up encountering more animals than people; in fact she grew up as a trained horse acrobat — and because she grew up in a musical home, she was encouraged to pursue creative endeavors as much as possible: she began playing violin when she was 5, piano when she was 9 and she wrote poetry and songs at a very young age.
Ekmark eventually moved to Stockholm to pursue her passion in music; but a leap of faith to attend a Neon Gold Records writing retreat in the Nicaraguan jungle led to her to meet Australian-born and based hit making producer and pop artist What So Not. From this seemingly serendipitous meeting, she went on to co-write “Better” and “Stuck In Orbit,” before stepping out into the spotlight as both the writer and featured artist on the Aussie producer and pop artist’s “Beautiful,” which was released last year.
Adding to a busy 2018, the Solleron-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and pop artist covered HAIM‘s “Don’t Save Me” for Neon Gold Records’ 10th anniversary compilation, NGX: Ten Years of Neon Gold. She closed out the year with a co-write and vocal contribution to The Chainsmokers viral hit “Hope,” a track that has amassed over 250 million streams across all digital platforms globally — including over 100 million streams on Spotify. And as a result of a rapidly growing profile, Oak signed to Warner-Chappell Music Publishing and to Neon Gold/Atlantic Records.
Oak’s long-awaited debut single “He Don’t Love Me” is centered by sleek, trap meets electro pop production featuring twinkling and arpeggiated synths and keys, stuttering tweeter and woofer rocking beats, and the Solleron-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and pop artist’s ethereal yet sultry vocals — and while revealing an ambitious songwriter, who can write a sultry and infectious hook, the song has an achingly bittersweet air. “We’re all capable of falling for people who don’t value us, grasping for a leaving hand. But we must understand that we’re just as capable of realizing that our worth does not lay in those heavy hands,” Oak says of her debut single.
Directed by Andreas Öhman, the sultry and recently released video for “He Don’t Love Me” pairs cinematic black and white footage with brief bursts of animation, the use of prisms, gender-bending doppelgängers to create a visual that’s captivating yet imbued with heartache.