The Student Guide - Getting to Know Olivia Somerlyn / by hyfn


Supporting Jessie J on tour, and with many talents in her repertoire, 19-year-old Olivia Somerlyn is one to watch. We had a little chat with her to discuss her title as "Fresh Artist of the Month", being startstuck, and Kristin Wiig impressions...  

You’re on tour with Jessie J at the moment, how’s that going?

It's going so well! I'm having the best time. Jessie J is so inspiring and I love watching her show every night.

How are you finding being thrust into the limelight?

I've been working behind the scenes writing and recording music for about 6 years, and I just went on my first tour this summer - 42 cities across the US. It feels great to finally share my music! As much as I love writing and working in the studio, there's nothing quite like performing music that I've written and interacting with the audience.

Tell us about your new single “Better With You”

Better With You is a really fun song! I tend to be drawn to the piano which leads me to write piano ballads. I decided to keep the mood light with Better With You and started it on guitar. I'm so happy with how it turned out. It's such a catchy song. I love hearing friends, family, and fans singing and humming it! It's so fun to perform and involve the audience with the "yeah yeah" sing along.

As well as being a singer/songwriter you play guitar and piano; anymore talents?

Music takes up almost all of my time, but I do love academics - history in particular - and I'm told I'm good at impressions. My favorites are Kristin Wiig impressions! Her SNL characters are the best!

How do you overcome writer’s block?

I think my writer's block is at its worst when I try too hard. I think the best songs come when I have something I really want to write, whether it's a concept, a title, a melody, or even a piano part. I hardly had any time to write on my summer tours with the Jonas Brothers and Big Time Rush and Victoria Justice, but when I came home I was so excited to write again because I had so many new experiences to draw from. I think the best cure for writer's block is taking a break and living life. Then you can go back and reflect.

Did you ever expect to be the Teen Nick Fresh Artist of the Month?

No! They contacted me out of the blue. I was so surprised! Big Time Rush and Victoria Justice had just announced that I would be touring with them, and it was amazing to be featured on Teen Nick to introduce myself to their audience before the tour.

What advice have you had from the artists you’ve been on tour with?

All the artists I've toured with so far have been so inspiring. The Big Time Rush boys are so talented and fun. They have a great balance of work and play. Their tour was such a blast! They encouraged me to let go and have fun rather than work all the time like I tend to. Victoria Justice has such a powerful stage presence. I learned a lot from her killer dance moves. I've been friends with the Jonas Brothers for a few years now and they've given me lots of advice along the way, but while touring with them I really appreciated their specific pieces of advice about my show. Jessie J is such an inspiration to me in so many ways. She taught me a few vocal warm up exercises and tongue twisters and also gave me some songwriting advice. It wasn't serious though. When I met her I was so starstruck and surprised - she came running into my dressing room - I fell off my chair. It was so embarrassing! Later I told her I had written a song the week before to play on tour and she said I should have called it "I fell off my chair with my rollers in when I met Jessie J."

Do you have any quirky rituals before you go on stage?

My band and I always have a pre show huddle and we pick a new cheer on the spot every time. Whoever is feeling inspired makes a little pump-up speech and decides for us. Sometimes they're based on the place we're playing, like "all you need is love" when we were in Liverpool. Tonight in Brighton it was "roar" because one of my favorite songs, Katy Perry's Roar, was playing in the venue right before we went on stage.

Who do you aspire to be as successful as?

I like to dream big, but I wouldn't want to compare myself with anyone in particular. I want to be as successful as I can and reach as many people as I can with my music and my message. I'm already so thrilled at the success I've had so far and the lives I've touched through my songs.

What’s next?

I'm really looking forward to finishing up my album. As soon as I'm back in LA after the Jessie J tour I will be writing a lot and then deciding which songs to record for my album. I couldn't be more excited! I love touring so much and I can't wait to tour again, so I hope there will be another tour in the near future.