Interview by Tom Gaffney
Olympia, a Melbourne based artist currently being revered as everyone’s favourite singer-songwriter is no-doubt gaining attention on the Australian circuit with her 80s fused pop-music. The performer has just released her debut album Self Talk with an accompanying national tour, and YEWTH were lucky enough to have a chat to her before she stops over in Adelaide this weekend.
I can really appreciate the complexity of Self Talk as a whole, and you’ve discussed the endless hours put in by several instrumentalists for the album in other interviews. For you, what was the most arduous task throughout the production of the album?
I think getting the songs kicked off in the studio is one of the hardest moments. Burke and I would spend hours going through different BPMs and beat patterns to set up the song. While the songs were written, we were very creative in the studio, and setting up the song was crucial. There were times however where I’d check my watch and 8 hours had gone past and we’d put nothing down. This formulated work is so tedious, you could easily kill it before a fantastic song is realised.
Since the release, have you been able to listen to any of the album’s tracks recreationally, or do you tend to avoid them in your music catalogue?
To tell you the truth, if one of the tracks comes on – or I catch a track on the radio, it actually brings me a lot of joy. In part because Self Talk is the result of collaboration and it affords me the luxury of being surprised by it, and I also can hear the imprint of others on the tracks. Also, even after all the work we put into the album, all the times I had to force myself to sit inside and write, I still enjoy listening to it, and I think that’s an incredible feat. (I assure you, I also listen to a lot of OTHER artists too).
I’m very interested in the progression of Olympia from debut show to debut album, where, by the look of the initial gig posters on your Facebook, you had jumped into Melbourne’s scene with magnitude and you haven’t stopped getting serious traction ever since. How has your experience been as Olympia in comparison to other musical projects (if there have been any), and where would you like to take Olympia after the album tour?
I had performed and recorded under my own name previously – this was like an apprenticeship (although there’s still heaps to learn). This experience has helped me make more informed decisions for the Olympia project. This does not always translate to success though.
I can assure you, like everyone starting out, we have also spent time playing to rooms empty except for punters on the pokies up the back of the room.
You’ve been cited commenting on your urges to create music, sometimes leaving gigs early to work on music from newfound inspiration. How does your love of performance fare against your love of creating music – are they on equal ground?
I see them as different. One is passive (watching a gig), the other active (making music). I love both equally. I also recognise that’s a powerful moment when you are moved from one state to the other. When you go out to see a gig, and it takes you by surprise, motivates you to be the best or worst of yourself, etc.
Lastly – for any youth reading this who loves creating and performing music and could benefit from inspiration from a rising star in Australia’s music scene – do you have any motivational or inspirational messages to give to newly emerging Australian artists who are keen to get as far in music as they can go?
Don’t wait for inspiration.
Challenge yourself – listen to music/read books that your friends aren’t.
Don’t expect opportunity to land in your lap. However, if it does, work your hardest.
Olympia plays Producers Bar on June 11th.