Olivia Somerlyn Exclusive Interview!
Before performing a live session for us at Female First, we got the chance to chat to Olivia Somerlyn about playing on the Alive UK Arena tour, her life as a musician and where she hopes to be this time next year.
You've just finished touring with Jessie J and Lawson...
Yeah I'm so sad it's over!
How was that whole experience?
It was so great, I mean they're both such amazing acts and just being able to watch them - especially Jessie J who I loved so much even before the tour - I love her even more now, being able to watch her live - she's just unbelievable. It's a sensational show and it's a shock to me every night when I watched her - I couldn't even believe that I was part of the show! (laughs)
How did it feel to play arenas in the UK?
It felt so great. The O2 was the biggest show I've ever performed at and we did two nights there. I think the biggest show I've done before was about 14,000 in the US - the O2 was just completely massive - so it was a little bit scary and intimidating having that be the first night, but I was really glad I had a second night there because it was just so much more fun the second night - the nerves were gone, I'd done it before and I got to really enjoy it the second time around (laughs) and not be so nervous!
How did you find the response from fans here? I know you did meet and greets following your set.
It was so great - the meet and greets are always, if not, my favourite part next to performing, maybe even my favourite part in all, because it's just so fun to get to actually talk to people, and see what they thought of the show. It was funny because they'd always say 'Oh I love your accent!', but to me it's like 'I love YOUR accent!' (laughs). I had that conversation so many times.
They've been so great and so fun, and even as the shows went on I feel like the audiences got more into it every single show - maybe even hearing more about me before they came to the show - so by the end of the tour having people that actually knew my songs - some of my songs - definitely my single too - people really rocking out and having fun in the front. It was really fun - the audiences were just amazing.
How would you describe yourself as an artist?
I guess I would describe myself as singer-songwriter first and foremost, because I do write or co-write all of my music, and writing is probably the most important part to me, because it's so important I get to write something that I feel or something I really wanna share with somebody - share with, rather not somebody but people who listen to my music - and I want them to be able to relate to it and being able to share it and perform it live's just a completely different aspect of being an artist. I just love all aspects - from writing, to recording, to sharing it with everybody live, and I'm - I don't know exactly how to describe my musical style - it's pop music, but since I write it it's hard to put it really into one category. But I love writing from the piano, so it's a lot of piano-based ballads and I tend to think that my songs are upbeat in general, even songs that start out and seem that they might be ballads or a little bit moodier - I like to think they all have lyrical twists in the end that change them to have a positive message.
One of my favourite songs, 'Only In The Movies' starts out and sounds like happy endings only happens in the movies, then by the end - by the bridge it actually switches and it says it's not true, it's not only in the movies - but that's the kind of subtlety that you really have to listen to my lyrics! So, I really hope people do listen to my lyrics carefully because there are little twists like that everyone once in a while.
So has music always been a passion of yours?
It really has and my mom always says that I would always be singing and making up songs - even when I was alone in my room even from like a very, very young age she would overhear me making up whole musical numbers, and like running around my room when I thought no-one was listening - it was just always something I really wanted to do, but I came from a very - my school in San Francisco where I'm from is very academic, so all about academics until I went to high school when I really said 'Mom, I really do wanna start focusing more on music and pursuing it a little bit more', and from then on - it's been kind of two different things - I am very interested in academics and pursuing that aspect of my life, but also music too, so it's been those two ever since.
You mentioned you write all your own music - where do you draw inspiration from?
I definitely write from personal experience, and I think a lot of writing is about amplifying emotions and reality.
I think that I can take something that maybe isn't something extremely dramatic in my life - even just one moment - and can turn it into a song that can sound like it was the biggest deal - if that makes sense!
I think that in order to be able to write a lot of songs you have to be able to take moments and really kind of explore them and amplify that emotion just to feel even more than you did in real life, in order to get a song out of it, and even create stories from moments and imagine 'what if this had happened' - what would that have felt like and what would that story have been?
In terms of my songwriting I love to make them stories - I love to make them have almost - I like to write with a music video in mind too, even sometimes with a stage performance in mind - how would this look on stage if I'm able to have a big tour and able to design it myself - so I really like to write things that I think people would like to hear, as well.
I did get one piece of advice once, which was - the more transparant you become the more universal you become. So, I think just writing what I feel will be something relatable - and I won't have to think 'maybe this is relatable maybe this isn't' - as long as I feel it, someone will be able to relate, and that's the most powerful kind of connection anyway.
So - tell us about your latest single.
Yeah - 'Better With You' is my single right now, and that song is so fun - it's a little bit different to what I'm used to writing because I prefer to write on piano usually, and it leads me to write more piano-type songs - like 'Only In The Movies' - but 'Better With You' I started on the guitar, and it just became a really fun, summer, catchy song and I love when people hear it and sing along - it's so catchy because I hear my friends, my family, fans - they always say 'I've been humming it and it's in my head!' - I get those kind of tweets all the time.
That song was inspired - it's a pretty general song - it can be about so many people. It can be about my mom, it can be about my dog, it can be about all the fans - it's 'better with you'. I think it's good because it can be a love song or a friendship song or really anything that anyone wants to take it as and it means different things to me on different days.
So what's next for you now?
I'm gonna go home - back to LA! I'll be working on finishing up my album which I'm so exciting to finally finish and release because there are so many different songs and I feel like right now my music style has grown so much from when I released my first EP, and even just this single - my music style's always growing - so it's hard because as soon as I release something it's like 'oh I just wrote this next song I wanna release' and 'oh but I so wanna release this one too'!
Actually, even before the Jessie J tour, a couple of days actually before I left I wrote a new song to perform - 'Pulses' - I had just written it really, really quick - we rehearsed it like one day for a couple of hours with my band and we just said 'I guess this is gonna have to do!' because I just didn't have the right song to fit that space in my setlist - and the first time we performed it was at the O2, so that was very stressful! But, I think it came together pretty well! (laughs)
Will you be coming back to the UK with that album?
I definitely will! I was just talking about that in a meeting just now and I'm hoping that it will be just as soon as possible - I don't know when yet because I have to finish off the album - but that'll be probably my first stop once I finish the album - I'll be coming back! It's just too much fun not to!
Where do you see yourself this time next year?
Oh my gosh - hopefully touring again! I would love to tour, whether it's the US, whether it's back in the UK, whether it's somewhere else, opening for somebody or even on my own.
It's so funny because I've been touring with Big Time Rush, Victoria Justice, Jonas Brothers and Jessie J - just since June! Where do you even go from here? Those artists are all so incredible and they were such fun tours - I don't even know what could possibly be next - I mean I guess it could only go up from here because it's been so much fun!
Olivia Somerlyn's single 'Better With You' is available now from iTunes.
by Daniel Falconer |