Olivia O’Brien’s Music Is a TBT To Your First Time Getting Turnt
We’ve all experienced bullying whether it be IRL or on the socials — and we all know it sucks. Sometimes the only thing that can make yourself feel better is imagining being able to someday get your revenge on your tormentors by becoming an awesome clone of Beyonce.
Well, this IS actually happening IRL for up-and-coming singer, Olivia O’Brien, who was unfortunately bullied for writing and releasing her awesome tracks on Soundcloud by the lame bullies in her high school.
Known for lending her vocals and songwriting talents to the Gnash hit “I Hate U, I Love U,” Olivia is now working on her debut EP, and has released singles of her own, including “Root Beer Float” and her newest, “Find What You’re Looking For,” both available now.
Not to mention she has a kinda cray discovery story: Meeting up with Gnash at one of his shows, and ending up writing songs alongside him — oh, and getting signed to a major label, and appearing on both Seth Meyers and the Today show. No big deal.
Guess those bullies can continue to sing her lyrics in attempt to mock her … only the rest of the world will be singing along and loving her. Just guessing Olivia must be feeling really good right about now.
Check her newest single, more tunes, and a Q&A with Olivia below!
Do you have a favorite quote/or mantra?
I just got this tattoo, it says “Forever.” It’s kind of like my reminder to myself that nothing I’m ever going through is forever, nothing’s forever. No pain is forever. On the flip side of that, you don’t have forever. You have to make the best of the time you have with your friends and being young.
Who are some of your influences?
Right now, I’m really into JoJo. I love her. She’s amazing. Kehlani has always been a huge influence for me. I’ve seen her live a bunch of times, I’m obsessed with her. She’s such an amazing performer. Since I was a child, my mom has always loved Beyonce. I grew up on Beyonce. That’s one of the consistent ones in my life, I’ve always loved everything she does.
Britney or Beyonce, who would you pick?
What bands/music are you listening to right now?
I’ve been listening to my friend Drew’s fall playlist on Spotify. He has the best taste in music. Terror Jr is actually really cool — There’s a secret, no one knows who the lead singer is. She doesn’t show her face. Definitely JoJo. Luna George is amazing. Mac Miller’s new album. Hey Violet — “Guys My Age,” I love that song. I’m all over the place with my music. I love Spotify because they have your daily mix and you can find new music easily that way, it’s awesome. I have a ton of playlists. I’m always finding new stuff to listen to.
If “Root Beer Float” were on a movie soundtrack, set to a specific scene maybe, what would it be and why?
Some kind of teen movie where the kids are just going to their first big party or they sneak out one night and do something crazy. The song is about your first time partying, your first time getting drunk with your friends or whatever. It’s just about having fun, experiencing new things, taking advantage of being young. When I listen to the song, sometimes I’ll almost imagine a montage scene where it’s [kids] in a limo, at a club, I don’t know. It’s just how I imagine it.
Like other young stars, did you start out doing covers for YouTube and Soundcloud?
I started doing covers on Soundcloud. Lately, I’ve just been sticking to writing my own stuff and I just haven’t really thought much about that. I like to mess around with my voice. I feel like I can do a lot of different styles and one song, “Put Your Records On” by Corrine Bailey Rae, I love singing that song. She has a certain kind of raspy tone to her voice, [and] I tried to recreate that. I just love doing things like that, mixing it up with my voice, seeing what I can do.
What was it like working with Gnash on “I Hate U, I Love U”?
I did a cover of one of his songs called, “Disposable.” I did a cover of it and I posted it, he saw it, and he DMed me [and said] “Hey, love the cover.”
I ended up going to [his] show, and he asked me if I had any original stuff — so I sent him what I had of “I hate you, I love you,” and he helped me piece it together. Then, I posted my original version of it, and then he wanted to make it a duet. I went down to LA and we recorded it. It was really exciting. I feel like, for me, things don’t really hit me until after. I knew that “I Hate You, I Love You” was on the radio, but I don’t think it really hit me until maybe a month ago. The fact that I’m signed to a major label, just everything that’s happening.
You were on national TV for the first time performing with him on Seth Meyers and The Today Show, what was that like?
It’s terrifying. I cry after every performance. I run off-stage crying. I was reading the comments on the YouTube video that The Today Show posted and I saw someone say, “Oh they look so awkward at the end.” That’s probably because I was holding in my tears so I could run offstage and cry. I just have a lot of anxiety when it comes to that kind of stuff. I feel like it might be better once I start having my own shows. Just the thought of being on live TV just terrifies me. The cameras. I don’t like being recorded. I just have a whole thing about cameras — it gives me a lot of anxiety.
Is there anyone else that you have your eye on that you wanna collab possible collab with?
Bibi Bourelly, [who] actually wrote a lot of stuff for Rihanna. She’s an incredible songwriter. She has this song called, “Ballin'” that my friend showed me the other day. I’m obsessed with it. I’ve started looking at her own music that she makes and she’s just really cool, has this vibe to her that I just love. I would kill to write a song with her.
On “Root Beer Float,” you sing but also rap a little – how do you feel about rapping? Do you like it? Do you think you’ll do more of it?
I don’t really think of it like [rapping]. I feel like I have so much to say and so many words. When you get a lot of words in a short time, it sounds like you’re rapping. That’s just how I write, you know? Everyone I work with is like, “There’s so many words, this is so wordy!” I’m like, “I’m sorry I have a lot to say.” I hate when things are just like a couple words repeating because I want to tell a story and I want someone to be like, “Yes, I feel that.”
What are your top five makeup products at the moment?
The Estee Lauder Double Wear foundation. I actually turned (my friend and YouTuber) Maddie onto that too. She’s like a YouTube beauty guru person so I felt so cool that I turned her onto this foundation now it’s like her go-to. That’s definitely my favorite product. My beauty blender — I don’t know what I’d do without it. Two Faced Chocolate Soleil Bronzer, best bronzer ever. It smells like chocolate. I’m pretty sure you can eat it. It’s made from cocoa powder! Oh of course, how am I forgetting? Champagne Pop by Becca, the highlighter. It’s my favorite highlighter! I put it pretty much everywhere all over my face. I love to sparkle. It’s the best highlighter I’ve ever used. I’d say my favorite lipstick brand is probably Color Pop because it’s so cheap.
What is your current go to concert outfit?
I’d say probably the thigh high boots as I’m wearing right now. I wear these like, everyday. And I wear all black all the time so probably just cute shorts or a romper.
What about performance wear?
I want to be able to wear something that I wouldn’t think of. I like to mix it up and just try different things all the time but yeah I’d say my go-to is probably boots or sneakers and sometimes I’ll just wear black jeans or jeans with rips in them. I’m generally a pretty casual person. I just don’t like wearing dresses.
So no dresses and heels for you?
I’d wear boots with heels but I won’t wear stilettos. It’s just not me, you know? Maybe if I’m going to the Grammy’s.
Who are some designers you absolutely love? Do you have a style icon that you steal looks from?
Alexander McQueen. Alexander Wang, you know all the Alexanders. I love Gucci!
What about modeling? Any thoughts on trying that out?
I hate cameras. I just think I look so weird in pictures. I like to post pictures on Instagram and stuff obviously but I edit them, you know? Or I take them myself I know. I can put the filter that I like. I can take the angle, you know?
What if your favorite designer Gucci came to you and they were like, “We’d love you to be a brand ambassador for us? We need to shoot you in this campaign.” Would you do it?
Yeah. I mean, yeah. For Gucci, I would do it.
Who’s your celebrity crush?
I probably shouldn’t say this because he’s signed to my label and I’m embarrassed, but Shawn Mendes is so hot. I used to be a huge Justin Bieber fan, I mean I still like him. I was also a One Direction fangirl like severe, serious One Direction fangirl. I had fan accounts!
You’ve accomplished a lot and you are only 16, What do you hope to accomplish this year? Where do you think you’ll in a year?
There’s so much! For me, it’s not really about what I’m doing for myself it’s more like I just want to make music that people like. I think rather than milestones, I just want people to enjoy the music that I make. I want to stay “me” and stay authentic because I’ve seen LA just completely change people. Someone tells them they have to be this way, and they have to wear this, and look like this, and sing this song that they didn’t write. I want to make sure I’m staying 100 percent authentic to myself because that’s the most important thing. That’s what I’m most proud of, is that I write my own music — so I don’t ever want to lose that.
Do you worry about balancing a normal life with your career? Do you still attend school?
High school was absolutely horrible for me. I was bullied so much in high school, it was awful. I never knew what I did. One person decided: “we don’t like her,” then everyone was like, “Yeah, we don’t like her.” [There] was just no reason, it was just everyone against me. I had friends and I hung out with kids that could be considered “cool” or whatever, but people would talk behind my back — people would just say really rude things, especially on social media. My one moment that I will never forget is I posted some original songs on my Soundcloud and I was coming home from a field trip on the bus. There were these two guys on the back of the bus, and they were listening to my Soundcloud and laughing at me, making fun of me and coming up to me and saying the words. I deleted the songs after that. I never posted an original again until “I Hate U, I Love U.”
What would your advice be for somebody else who’s maybe getting bullied? Maybe not for their music, but anything. If you had to stay in that situation, how would you tell someone to deal with it?
I would say no matter how hard it is, high school is not life. It’s four years of your life, you’re gonna move on. You’re gonna be hopefully in college and past that. You’ll be surrounded by people who are interested in the same things. I’ve met so many people who are my age and doing the same things as me, [and] have the same goals. People in high school, [they’re] just not people I want to be around. If you have something that you love and people make fun of you for it? That’s their problem. You just need to ignore it. As hard as that is — I know that’s so hard. You just have to ignore it until you can move on, then you’ll just realize how stupid it all was.
When can we expect to hear a full album from you? What’s next for you?
I’m not exactly sure what my plan is for everything. I have a ton of music, like a ton. I’m still writing. I feel like every time I write a new song, I’m like, “Oh I want to take this old one off the EP/album or whatever and put in this new one because I like it better!”
How can we stalk you?