Interview – Olivia

She may only be 16 years old, but Canadian artist Olivia has already accomplished so much in her musical journey as a singer/songwriter. The Vernon, BC native got her start at age 11 with a spot on “Our Kids Have Talent”, consequently paving the way to writing and recording her debut album at age 13. And that was only the beginning– – add to the list a top 30 single at Canadian radio for her original Christmas song and finalist in the International Song Writing Competition and Olivia was well on the road to being noticed. Her 2014 song “Ferris Wheel” had her working with hit producer Brian West (Nelly Furtado, Marron 5) and recently collaborating with a multitude of songwriters . Olivia, often compared to Colbie Callait and Norah Jones, has garnered notable nominations for her distinctive soulful, sultry vocal style.

There is no question that this young talent has everything on her side; talent, determination and a great support team . Canadian Beats had the opportunity to get up close and personal with this rising star. Take notice…she is going places!

Tell us about yourself so our readers can get better acquainted.

Well my name is Olivia and I am 16 and live in Vernon, British Columbia. I love music, writing it, performing it, and listening to it!! It is a big part of my life. I also love just hanging around with my friends, and travelling, shopping, and my new favorite activity is driving! I got my learners license back in April and so am chauffeuring my mom around as much as I can ha ha!

What was the moment that made you decide music was the dream you wanted to pursue?

I started taking singing lessons when I was 11. I always liked singing at home and wanted to take lessons but I did not really know where it wold go from there. After a couple of months, I entered a local music competition and that was really when I realized that I wanted to be a musician. I was so scared to get up on that stage and perform, but once up there, I loved the feeling! From there I started to get small little community gigs. Performing was so much fun and I knew then that I could see myself doing it forever. So I started taking guitar lessons, and then I decided to try song writing, which was at first pretty challenging. I wanted to be able to perform and make my own music, and by age 12 I released my first singles, and at age 13, my first full album. I did not really know what type of musician I was , and my first album was really more of the experience of writing, recording, and producing. I am sure glad I did it though, as that album got the attention of fellow Canadian and Sony / ATV writer Andrew Allen, who with his wife Julia Allen, became my managers. From there I started travelling to LA to write with Andrew and other amazingly talented songwriters. Now I really love the music I am writing and putting out there!

You are a young, talented  singer/songwriter. Who or what inspires you?

Thank you so much! I get my inspiration from different people and places. I love to travel and see new things which always helps with creativity! But I think most of my inspiration comes from the people I write with. Collaborating with talented song writers had made me a much better song writer, and the experiences and talent that they bring into the session gives me energy and creativity.  One of my favorite song writers, Robin Ghosh, who co-wrote on my new EP ‘Weightless’ and with whom I have been writing with since I was 13 really inspires me. He is so amazingly talented and so kind, and just such an amazing human, that the lyrics always are uplifting and full of promise.

Do you have a specific songwriting process?  Do you have a team of writers you lean on?

The song writing process I guess depends on whom I am writing with. When I travel to LA or Vancouver to co-write I am often writing at other people’s  studios and so I usually just go with the flow, but when people come to write with my at my studio, I have this whole process of setting up the mood with candles, tea, and snacks. I like the room to be super neat and tidy and organized, helps me think better haha.  I like to start with a word bubble, where we put down a bunch of words, and there is always one that stands out that directs the theme of the song. From there we do another word bubble that relates to the chosen word. The we fiddle around with melodies until we feel the right vibe, and then a couple hours to a couple days later, a song.  Most of my songs get written in one session, but sometimes we get stuck and so we leave that song on the back burner and start another, and if we still like the song that we got stuck on, we come back to it and try to finish it.

You released your EP Weightless in May.  How would do you identify your sound?  

It has taken me a couple years to find my sound. This EP truly reflects the sound and style that I want to write and produce. I think it was inspired by a song I wrote in LA in 2014 with Andrew Allen and Josh Cumbee (Madonna / Nick Howard) called Forgettable which was released by  Canadian DJ duo Project 46 last summer as part of the Beautiful Album. That song was quite different from the singer / songwriter stuff I was doing last year, but it always stuck with me as the type of song I wanted to release. So when I approached Robin to work on an EP with me, I brought that idea into the room, and basically it set the tone for what we started writing. My sound is definitely pop, maybe indie pop with the key element being that the vocals always sit on top of the instrumental and not the other way around.

What do you love about live performance ?  Any shows coming up?

I love the feeling you get when the audience reacts to your music. It is a pretty amazing thing to see people enjoy what you are passionate about. I have my EP release this summer in July that I am super excited about. It will be a small intimate concert and I am very excited to have my favorite musicians coming into town to be a part of it. I am also pretty excited to be part of the Scotiabank Aids Walk to Thrive event taking place in Vancouver September 25. I get to perform for a very worthwhile cause and alongside some talented acts, and in one of my favorite cities!

At Canadian Beats, we like to give our readers the opportunity to get to know you through some “fun” questions.

What song ,other than your own , do you find yourself constantly singing?

Haha good question!! Lately Hailee Steinfeld’s Rock Bottom – great song.

Who would be your ideal duet partner?

Easy … Ed Sheeran!

What was the last concert you attended?

I got to go see Hedley perform in Kelowna last month. They we unbelievable. Had the best night.

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