NYC-based Olivia Reid is one of the most versatile up-and-coming personalities in music. As a performing artist, songwriter, producer, sound engineer, and podcast host of Song Start by Spotify, she has her fingerprint on every facet of the industry. Known for blending organic, acoustic sounds with electronic pop, Reid's sound design transports listeners to another world. Her warm, welcoming vocals give life to songs that push the boundaries of folk-pop storytelling through contemplative lyric poetry.
Her debut EP “Earth Water” hit streaming platforms in the Fall of 2021, and with her debut album on the way in 2022, it's just the beginning of the journey for Olivia Reid. In addition to the music, check out Olivia's podcast chats with artists like Sam Smith, Hayley Williams, and Victoria Monét, as host and writer of the Spotify & Notable series, Song Start. Learn more about Olivia at www.oliviareid.com.
WHAT OR WHO INSPIRED YOU TO GET INTO MUSIC?
Originally, I was inspired to get into music purely out of curiosity. I was just always listening to music - on the radio, my portable CD player, then my iPod. That constant input of music I think prompted me to pick up patterns of song structure and made me want to write my own music. I was always singing and remembering lyrics since I was really young, and started writing (terrible!) songs when I was about 6 years old. Then I went to learn how to play guitar to be able to add music to the songs I was starting to write.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE OF MUSIC AND PERFORMANCE? HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PHILOSOPHY AND STYLE AS AN ARTIST?
Genre-wise I’d describe the music as indie alternative, with some undertones of pop, electronic, and R&B that come through in the production. I definitely place a lot of focus and intention in the songwriting, so I end up with song subjects that are very contemplative and sometimes lonely. I also think there’s a real beauty in the small stuff, so I love details like lyrics with multiple meanings or production details that are in obvious conversation with the lyrics.
WHAT DRIVES YOU TO CREATE, AND HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS FOR YOURSELF IN MUSIC?
I think I will create and be making music forever - whether or not I release it. I realize now it’s just the way I process the world. But I think what drives me to release the music has been the impact it’s had on my family or friends in good times and bad. When I hear that my grandparents listen to my music to lower their heart rate, or my friends listen to cope with anxiety, or my partner listens to feel close to me - it feels like there’s value to sharing the music beyond the surface level stuff. I think that’s how I define success.
THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER, WHO HAS HELPED YOU THE MOST WITH DEVELOPMENT AND SUPPORT?
Way too many people to name! But all of my teachers, my peers, my family, my day 1 fans, and best buddies - they all remind me on a daily basis that it's important to share your art. And that's invaluable!
SOMETIMES BEING IN THIS BUSINESS CAN BE OVERWHELMING. DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR MAINTAINING PERSPECTIVE AND NOT SWEATING THE SMALL STUFF?
I think having a clear “why” statement has helped me recenter on what’s important. I always come back to “why am I doing this?” and that makes me remember stream counts, or a closed door, or a missed opportunity doesn’t impact that at all.
PERFORMING ARTIST, SONGWRITER, PRODUCER, SOUND ENGINEER, AND PODCAST HOST -- IF WE DIDN'T KNOW BETTER, WE'D SAY YOUR BLOOD RUNS PURE CREATIVE INTENTIONS! DO YOU BELIEVE IT'S IMPORTANT FOR CREATIVES TO TRY OTHER FORMS OF ART IN ADDITION TO THEIR OWN? HAVE YOU LEARNED OR GAINED ANY NEW SKILLS FROM ONE ART FORM -- SAY AS A PODCAST HOST -- THAT'S INFLUENCED ANOTHER, LIKE YOUR MUSIC?
That’s really kind, thank you – I love imagining my red blood cells as tiny artístes! But to answer the question I absolutely believe in the power of trying different things. Sometimes I’m spread too thin - but I think the variety has made me a quick learner, able to maintain a lot of autonomy in my work, kept me adaptable, and increased my resilience to roadblocks. Everything serves as input for the music and the business side of the music. The podcast, for example, I know that advice I was able to get from talking to Sam Smith or Hayley Williams, or Victoria Monét has definitely made its way into my view on artistry, and permeated into some of the topics of my new songs.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR YOUNG MUSICIANS JUST STARTING THEIR CAREERS, BASED ON WHAT YOU’VE EXPERIENCED?
The only thing we’re the best at is being ourselves. There’s always someone who’s going to be better at guitar, better at social media, better at production - but at the end of the day, we all have a specific skill set that becomes our unique superpower. Only you have that specific combination of experience. It’s valuable and worthy of sharing!
FOR FUN, IF YOU WERE STRANDED ON AN ISLAND AND COULD ONLY HAVE (3) ITEMS WITH YOU, WHAT WOULD YOU BRING?
A plane, a pilot, and a giant water cooler! So I could have a nice beach day with my pilot friend and then bee-bop back home.
WHAT DO YOU HAVE COMING UP NEXT?
I have about 10 new songs I’m putting together right now, with some more live shows comin’ up, and new music videos in the pipeline. I’m also working on the creative strategy side for a few artists such as Fleet Foxes and in emerging voice technology (Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, etc.) for music. Trying to keep my brain learning new things and enjoy the process!
WHAT HAS BEING WITH A PUBLISHING ADMINISTRATOR, LIKE SONGTRUST, ALLOWED YOU TO DO AS AN ARTIST?
As a self-managed and self-released artist, there are some royalties out there that are just wildly difficult to collect on your own. Songtrust has become an extension of my team, by collecting those royalties that would’ve otherwise never found their way to me. It’s also allowed me to continue to do international work - writing with artists all over the world - and know that Songtrust will help me chase the funds that come from that work.
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