Olivia Nelson’s partnership with BBC Introducing and the iconic musical powerhouse that is Abbey Road studios, in addition to her personal creative drive and undeniable talent, all determine the emerging artist as a force to be reckoned with. Her whopping nine-track EP For You was released only last year and introduced the world to her soulful sound that is clearly reminiscent of her female idols (Beyoncé, Mariah, Whitney, etc.) while possessing her own individual modern musical spirit. We talked to her about her newest EP, Back To You, out on August 19, wherein she explores a creative landscape that is more R&B-centric than her previous releases.
Your new EP has been recorded in partnership with BBC Introducing and Abbey Road studios – a legendary studio that has nurtured the giants of the music universe, from The Beatles to Lady Gaga. How does it feel having the opportunity to record in a studio with such prowess?
It’s really cool. I had a tour of the studios and it was amazing to hear about who had recorded there previously. It was quite overwhelming but also put my brain into gear to get ready to record the songs.
How did this opportunity come about?
Abbey Road and BBC Introducing set up this campaign to give emerging artists the opportunity to record a couple of songs there. DJ Target chose me, which is wild.
You’ve released a track from the EP Back to You, giving fans a little taste of what’s to come. What can we expect from the full EP?
All the tracks have a common theme, sonically. They are more R&B than my last EP, which I was conscious of. I just want people to enjoy hearing about this phase of my life and what I’ve been working on. Hopefully, it resonates.
Tell me a little about your songwriting process. Many musicians say that a tune or a lyric comes to them in dreams. What’s your writing protocol?
It’s funny you say that because one track on the EP (called Everything) actually came to me in a dream. But usually, we’ll come up with some chords and then establish a feeling and go from there. But it’s never the same every time.
Apparently, you started writing your first songs when you were a young teen. Do you still have them now? Are they a bit cringe-worthy, or have you looked back at them and gleaned inspiration from some of the lyrics for your new stuff?
They’re definitely cringey and deserve to stay in that notepad forever. It’s funny to look back on. It’s almost like reading a diary from when you were 13.
I love the illustrative design of your EP’s thus far. Who’s the artist behind them?
James Neilson did the art for my last EP For You.
It’s great seeing so many strong women hitting the music industry hard. Do you think it’s more competitive for women than for men in the industry?
I think it’s an oversaturated industry, regardless of gender. I mean, everyone wants to be a musician! Society loves to put women against each other, which is exhausting. But it’s inspiring to see so many strong women killing the scene.
Your track Smother Me serves me vintage Beyoncé vibes. Who would you say are your biggest musical inspirations?
Woah, that’s crazy. I’m honoured! Well, I love Beyoncé, Whitney Houston, Lauryn Hill, Mariah; the list goes on… Basically the saaangers (not singers).
Are there any features on the new EP? If not, who have you got your sights on collaborating with?
Hare Squead did a feature/remix of one of my tracks which I’m excited for people to hear. And I would love to work with James Fauntleroy one day.
You’ve said before that people wanting to break into the music industry should make their own opportunities, what exactly does this entail?
A lot of musicians can get too much in their own heads and never post their music. Creating your own opportunities means posting songs, networking, trying to build something of your own. Then no one can take that away.
You’re yet to make a music video! Is there something cooking that you’re going to release soon? What's your vision for your first video?
I’m very keen to make a music video and I’m in talks with some people, but I want to get it perfect as it’s my first one. It’s such a process! But I’ve definitely got things cooking.
You’re due to perform at Reading and Leeds festival this August. What else is in the making? Any favourite festival you’d love to play in?
Yeah, I’ve never been, so I’m hoping it lives up to expectations! It would be a dream to perform at Glastonbury one day. Plus, later this year in October, I’ve got a headline show at Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen. Tickets are on sale so go cop one!
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