Interview with Olivia K
Olivia K and I had the pleasure of meeting through a self development program I lead. I was always enamored with Olivia’s unbridled self-expression, and freedom. The quarantine has created an opportunity for us all to delve deeper into our passions. After seeing Olivia live stream her music at 7:30am in the morning, and being moved by her soulful adlibs, I decided it was time to do an on-air interview and collaboration! This is part 1 of our interview! Stay tuned for the live interview and performance this Friday at 12noon.
R: How old were you when you started getting into music ?
O: I was 5 years old. There was no defining moment where I decided I would pursue music, it was just always there. It was what I knew I would do.
I grew up in an artistic family. Dad wrote music back in the day, and my mom loved to sing and dance with me in the house. But the arts was something we very much were supposed to pursue in our homes. My mom has a degree in biology, my dad has a degree in astrophysics, haha.
A lot of my family were artists but they didn’t continue to pursue it because they didn’t want to be a starving artist family. I grew up in Brooklyn, but my mom is from Guyana. At home, she and my aunt always used to do these mini-dramas in different accents and I was so embarrassed.
R: Do you see it as your legacy to carry the tradition of music and the arts on ?
O: yes absolutely. When I was drumming in Guyana, I got in touch with Guyanese-folk music. Guyanese folk music is a Side of me who hasn’t gotten to come out. It is one of our missions haven’t been in action. I want to keep it alive for new generations. There are a lot of Guyanese people who love this music. It would be the equivalent of Usher in the club.
Music is a living and breathing thing. I want all Caribbean music to have this type of engagement. I Do it for the love.
R: What are your Influences?
O: Well, Guyanese folk music is definitely something I want to infuse into my music. My mother went to an HBCU/North Carolina- Bennett School which is that sister school for AT&T
In North Carolina.
My mom lived in NC for 10 years. My Dad lived in SC. My Influences are Watching Michael Jackson. I grew up listening to WBLS, KISS FM. I Didn’t know about Hip Hop. I heard it in school. I grew up with the temptations, Earth, Wind and Fire.
Grew Up-2000-danced, I grew up in Brooklyn, in an Afro-Caribbean, Dominican neighborhood, learned and I spoke Spanish.
I was Classically trained as a pianist, so I played a lot of Mozart.
My 1st hero is Michael Jackson. My 2nd hero is Alicia Keys, ya know cuz I played the piano real good. Now as a grownup, Stevie, Prince, and Michael Jackson are my idols. They prove you can make Music mean something. It can be Super fun and you can Enjoy yourself. It can make meaning of something.
I look back now, at one time I was working with a Creative coach. I was afraid to be messy. Anything “adult” or not what people would hear on the radio, I was afraid of that.
Prince would just say it. Chaka Khan is my woman idol. I Listened to a lot of Whitney Houston. And Although I like her music there is Not a lot of kinship. Men have historically taken the space to write and be great writers. Some of the prolific writers and performers I look up to are Jonnie Mitchell, Carol King, Chaka.
I am a Writer and performer. What’s interesting is Hip Hop women take up space. Then when they do Women are typecast in this space.
I do realize that as a woman you can create a space. For years I avoided the music industry. I had a fear of collaborating with larger entities and losing my identity.
Regina Spektor, women who both play piano and write.
Freddie Mercury, he is very flamboyant and self-expressed. David Bowie walked the line between the feminine and masculine.
Men are usually able to toe the line.
R: It’s interesting because when you talk about how male singers toe the line between the feminine and masculine, I think of Janelle Monae as someone who does that.
O: Yeah Janelle went from being a singer to being an icon.
She has a message and voice of queerness, she speaks about criminal justice system. But I don’t think her popularity of her music is as much about her music as it is about her Image. She is very much an Intellectual person.
R: Who do you make music for?
O: Well first and foremost, I make music for myself.
I want my music to appeal to everyone and have an open door policy. I make music for people who like me.
Most of the time, when I collaborate, I write all the lyrics.
I Like soulful vibes and I like to have organic music and raw music. I thrive with the organic music and live atmosphere.
R: So for you making music is like a spiritual experience?
O: yes very much so.
R: what can we expect next from you?
O: I’m making an album. The Main pieces are there. We have Recorded 12 songs that we have been Playing as a band for the past year. What I love about live music is the fact that Anything can hapen. I am the Space of anything can happen and Anything is a possibility.
I am inspired by the R&B Soul Genre and I think my music appeals to people who like this genre. I am inspired by the Magic of late 70’s and early 80’s. There is such a powerful human element to live music.
In terms of creating this album, it was really about trusting my vision. We went really old school, even recorded some of the music on a tape machine.
It was really organic. So creating is definitely a spiritual experience.
I met the Music director for Justin Bieber’s last album at the ASCAP Expo. And some of his music on this album sounded like a church’s tracks. His musical director told me that he was highly, spiritual and influenced by Christianity. Stevie Wonder. Spirituality is a Continuing