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Interview: Olivia Somerlyn

9 min read

Having recently supported pop heavyweight Jessie J on her UK tour, Olivia Somerlyn has also toured the U.S with the likes of the Jonas Brothers and Big Time Rush in her rise to become one of pops top breakthrough artists.

With her support slow on Jessie’s tour now wrapped up, Olivia spent some time talking to about the tour, her latest single, Better With You and what she has in store for the festive season ahead. Here is what Olivia had to tell us…

Brendon Veevers: How are you Olivia and where does our interview find you today?

Olivia Somerlyn: I’m doing well! I’m in LA getting ready to celebrate thanksgiving with my family.

OliviaSomerlyn Better With YouBV: Your latest single is called Better With You. Can you tell us a little about the track and the inspiration behind it?

OS: Better With You is a fun summer song! I love it because it’s so catchy and I love hearing my friends and family – and fans of course! – singing along to it. I wrote it about everyone in my life who makes my life better. Friends, family, pets, and fans (SomerLovers!)

BV: Are there any plans to release a full length record this year or in 2014?

OS: There definitely are plans! I could not be more excited to finish my album. I’ve been working on writing and recording for many years now and I’m very excited to release a collection of the music I’ve been working and to write more in the next coming months. As much as I absolutely love touring, my love of music started in the studio and in my bedroom just writing songs on my own. My first tour was this summer, and since then I’ve practically been on tour all the way through the fall so I’m really looking forward to taking time to write again.

BV: How would you describe your sound and your style to those who may not know Olivia Somerlyn?

OS: I have a collection of fun pop songs, piano ballads, and some songs in between. My music tends to have the rhythms of classic pop combined with a lyrical focus on storytelling. For example, Anymore is a song with a strong, driving beat and a message that sometimes it’s better to just walk away from rather than fight back someone who’s bullying you or putting you down. A lot of my fans have told me how much they can relate to that story and how much that advice has helped them.

BV: You have recently toured with Jessie J on her ‘Alive’ tour where you played some pretty huge venues. What was your favourite gig on the tour and why?

OS: It’s so hard to choose since each show was special and memorable in its own way. Performing in front of almost 20,000 people both nights at the London O2 was awe-inspiring. The view from the stage was just amazing. That was definitely the largest and most iconic venue I’ve performed at so far. The Manchester crowd was really lively, Liverpool, of course , was really cool because of the city’s history (and of course I took the famous Beatles tour on my day off!), Brighton was a smaller and more intimate setting, the Bournemouth fans were really engaged and sang along to some of my songs, and Cardiff was a really fun last show of the tour!

BV: What was it like touring with Jessie and did she offer you any tips on tackling the big audiences or offer you any career pointers?

OS: It was really an incredible honor to tour with such an amazing artist. She is a phenomenal writer, singer, and performer who loves her audience. It’s easy to see why her fans idolize her. And so do I! Just being able to watch her perform every night was an education itself. And she couldn’t have been sweeter to me. She told me that she still gets nervous which surprised me since her performance was consistently flawless! She also taught me some valuable vocal warm up exercises and advised me to take my time on my first album, but to be prepared for a rushed second album, which is what happened to her once she became so successful and busy . I can only hope to be so rushed on my second album!

BV: You have also shared the stage with Big Time Rush, Victoria Justice, and the Jonas Brothers in the U.S. Who would you say has been your favourite to tour with and why?

OS: Every tour has been so amazing. The  summer break tour was almost like being at summer camp! Everyone on the tour had a great time. I became great friends with the other artists and I’m planning on writing and working with them again in the future. We performed for about 300,000 fans over the summer and I got to meet hundreds of them per night at my meet and greets at the end of each show. I’ve already talked about how amazing Jessie was and how special it was to perform in the UK. It was great to expand my audience in the UK and given the reaction from the audiences and the media I am planning to come back soon! Opening for the Jonas Brothers was very special to me. As one of the original Jonas Brothers fans, I promised myself when I was 12 that I would open for them someday, so accomplishing that goal was really a dream come true! I performed with them at the same venue I saw them perform at in 2008. It was cool to be able to tell that to the audience on this tour because many of them had been at the show at that venue in 2008! As it turned out, the Jonases and I became good friends over the last few years which also made this tour a lot of fun for me.

BV: Having toured extensively throughout the U.S and the UK. What are the biggest differences between audiences in America and those in Europe?

OS: I was really pleased with the audience’s level of engagement and their apparent enjoyment with my performance in both countries. The audience for the summer break tour was a little younger than the UK audience, but both seemed to react well to my music. The venues in the UK that I performed at bring a standing general admission crowd into the venue, which created a more intimate connection to the audience up front.

BV: You have developed quite a large following through Facebook and Twitter. Is it important for you to be able to connect with fans through these platforms?

OS: I think it might be the most important thing. I love creating music just to fulfill myself and sort through my experiences and emotions, but I’m really ultimately writing for them. I care so much for them and really want to be able to support them and connect with them the way they support and connect with me. I try to tweet and comment back to as many people as possible. I consider them friends! They have done and continue to do so much for me. I will never forget my first worldwide trending topic. I was so surprised! They blow me away.

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BV: Who would you say have been your biggest influences and why do you regard them as so influential to you?

OS: My music taste is so eclectic. I am influenced by songs that I listened to the car with my mom while growing up – like the almost famous soundtrack and Coldplay – but also artists like Katy Perry, Jessie J, Taylor Swift, and other current female pop icons. I could go on and on. The more I name the more I feel that I’m leaving out. Movie scores and instrumental music inspires me in a different way, too.

BV: What do you think you bring to the musical table that makes you so unique to other artists?

OS: I write my own songs and try to combine fun, straight ahead pop that matches my positive personality with the piano ballads that come naturally to me. I also love cinematic sounding music and lyrics that tell a story. Sometimes pop music isn’t as story based as other styles can be. Country music, for example. I also love lyrical twists and songs that always have a happy ending, even if it doesn’t sound that way at first listen. So many people think my song Only In The Movies is a sad song, but there’s a twist in the bridge that shifts the entire mood.

BV: What would you say has been the biggest challenge about being a recording and touring artist, if there is any? Has there been anything that you have had to overcome or sacrifice in order to get to where you are today?

OS: Writing, producing music, and performing on tour is hard work, and I’m involved in many other aspects of my career besides the music. Just like any other business, you have to really work at it to have any chance of success. So as much fun as this is for me, I try to treat it as my business. I have also taken my academic education very seriously – having attended one of the top high schools in San Francisco and having been accepted at one of the top colleges in the US. Between a rigorous academic program and a full time music career, I haven’t had much time for other things that are important to 19 year olds – like having a social life! Touring this summer was so refreshing in part because I made so many new friends my age in the industry who appreciate my crazy schedule and everything I’ve been trying to accomplish.

BV: Are there any acts out there that you would love to collaborate with or tour with and if so, who would they be and in what capacity would you like to see a collaborative project?

OS: I have already made my dream of opening for the Jonas Brothers come true, and now I’ve opened for another one of my idols, Jessie J! I couldn’t be happier. I would really love to write with her and Nick Jonas too. They both write a lot for other artists. I’ve always wanted to do a song with Coldplay, too. I could go on and on. There are so many amazing artists that I would love to work with.  As I’ve mentioned, a few of the artists I met while touring have expressed an interest in working with me. Also, I have been asked by other artists to write music for them, and I’m very interested in beginning that process.

BV: With Christmas and the New Year quickly approaching, do you have anything special planned?

OS: I’m looking forward to spending time with my family. I have never had a Christmas away from home, and I don’t think I will be breaking that tradition anytime soon if I can help it. I am such a workaholic that it’s hard for me to be away from LA, but luckily everything shuts down a way so I’m forced to take a break!

BV: Now that your support slot with Jessie J’s tour has come to a close, what else do you have planned for 2013?

OS: I will be writing and recording with some really amazing people before the new year. I could not be more excited! I’m hoping to be able to have the album close to finished by the end of the year to release as soon as possible in 2014. As much as I love my single Better With You, there are so many more songs that I just can’t wait to share.

BV: Thanks Olivia