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Interview with Harley Olivia
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I’ve always loved to sing. When I was a kid I sang in choirs, singing lessons, and on soccer fields when I was supposed to be playing defence. I loved musicals and then Marilyn Manson and My Chemical Romance. I really gravitated towards rock and metal in high school and that’s where my dreams of being a rockstar formed. If I wasn’t in music I would focus more on my acting. I studied Theatre Performance in college and I really loved the art of that type of performance as well.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I have A LOT of hobbies. I travel the world as a flight attendant, usually visiting friends and checking out bakeries and unique bookshops. I also have a side hustle painting pet portraits and I’m learning Portuguese. Traveling really influences my writing because I often write about being away from home, or write about the people I meet and places I go. I’m always inspired by amazing architecture and take pictures of it just in case I can incorporate it into album artwork. And with my Portuguese, I have a goal of recording a song in Portuguese once I’m good enough!
How long have you been making music?
I remember writing my first song when I was about 11 or 12. I joined my first band at 16 and never turned back.
Where are you based and how did that influence your music?
I’m based out of Toronto and have lived there for about 10 years. It influences my music because I’m very involved in the music scene and I love to write songs that my friends can dance and rock out to!
We’re all very supportive of each other’s work so it’s a great community to be a part of.
Tell me about your most memorable shows, if you haven’t played live what is your vision for a live show?
I’m playing my first show as a solo artist on December 29th so my most memorable show was with my old band Anthems In Ashes. We played a show for Indie Music Week at Cherry Colas in 2017. It was packed and I threw part of my outfit to an audience member and they wore it for our set. Everyone was jumping off the walls. We ended up winning best band of the night so we were all high off that!
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
I feel at home at Bovine Sex Club! I always enjoy playing there and seeing my friends play there. It’s such a fun vibe and the crowd is always lively. I would love to play the newly reopened El Mocambo!
I’m so curious to see the new renovations!
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Ooh, that is a hard one. There are so many bands I adore but I think a wicked line-up would be Silversun Pickups, Mother Mother, and Deftones.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into making music and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
I would say it’s a difficult industry that is always changing so make sure it’s truly your passion before you devote your life to it. Besides honing your craft, there are a lot of necessary administrative tasks that are not always fun, so if you just like the idea of partying like a rock star you won’t get off the ground. If you’re still determined than I say go for it, but research business and marketing because even if you are a talented musician, you won’t reach your listeners ears if you don’t have a good marketing and promotion plan. Treat your band like a small business.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
My songs are my babies so that is a hard question to answer. I would say Cherries means a lot to me though. I wrote it about growing up and reflecting on my party years and all the people that shaped who I am over those years. My favourite bar Cherry Colas had just shut down so I named the song Cherries in honour of our music community who would always hang out and support each other there. I sing about wanting to make better choices as I grow up but still be true to my fun-loving self.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
Diggin’ is definitely a fan favourite. It’s probably the catchiest and has such a mischievous and sexy feel. (Plus the bpm in the chorus is ideal to jump to!)
What is your creative process, and what inspires you to write your music?
I always start a song with a feeling I want to express. Usually, that turns into a vocal melody and maybe a lyric that sums up what I’m feeling. Then I build on it until I have a vocal melody and lyrics for a verse and a chorus. Then I bring that to my producer (Siegfried Meier) and he will write instrumental parts with me using instruments and synths. Picking synths is always one of my favourite days because you can really make a song come alive with the right sound.
Do you have messages that you like to get across in your music, if so please tell me about them?
I like to be authentic with my writing and tell stories about my experiences - good and bad. I hope that by telling my story I can set those feelings free and connect with listeners who have been through similar circumstances. I also like to write energetic songs that empower people to awaken their inner badass. Those are the most fun to perform live.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
Yes, we are playing a show December 29th at Maxwell’s in Waterloo! After that, we will be releasing more songs and playing shows in Toronto and surrounding area. I’m so stoked to perform these songs on stage and jump around with everyone!
How can your fans best keep up to date with you, any socials you want people to check out?
For sure! I am very active on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube! I post daily content about my music, singing tips and my daily life. I also have all my official music videos on my YouTube channel! You can also check out my website!