We had the chance to catch up with radio-touring-machine Olivia Lane after she performed a killer set at the Listening Room last Friday. She’s one of the most energetic people we’ve ever met, and she filled us in on what life on the road is like, songwriting, what her spirit animal is, and more.
So you’ve been on radio tour, tell us a little bit about what that experience is like.
Oh boy! So radio tour is grueling, wonderful, terrific, and just crazy. We started July 8th, so we’ve been on radio tour for four months, and we’re going into two or three more months of it. So we have like Thanksgiving and Christmas off, and then we’ll be back on the road in January.
So what’s life like on the road?
Oh my gosh! So it’s me my manager, and my guitar/band leader all in one car. It gets a little crazy sometimes, because I’m the only girl (laughs). Sometimes I just need to get a manicure by myself. But they’re really wonderful! I’m blessed to have a really great team around me.
But yeah it’s just us in a van going town to town. We literally drove all over Texas. We put 7,000 miles on a van that was brand new. I lived in Texas my entire life, but I actually never knew how big it was until I drove side to side, up and down.
That’s good for your Texas pride right there.
Oh my gosh! I was like Texas I love you, but come on!
But yeah, so we did the same thing on the west coast. After Texas, we did California, Arizona, Utah, and Oregon. And then, we’ve popped in and out to Wisconsin. Sometimes we’ll be on a flight, and most of the time we’re in a car.
Does the van have a name?
We’ve been in so many different colors! We’re always like OH IT’S A BLACK ONE. OH IT’S A RED ONE. IT’S A TAN ONE. We actually haven’t named it though. But I’m very big on names. I name most of my stuff.
So if the van doesn’t have a name, what does have a name then?
My car! I have a little red Mitsubishi and her name is Ruby Red. Ole Ruby Red! She gets me from point A to B.
So you’ve been in Nashville for a little over a year now. And have you been doing a lot of songwriting? How has that been going?
I graduated college in May 2013, and I drove my car from LA to Nashville with my two best guy friends, and we went straight to Bonaroo. (That was my graduation gift from my parents.)
And then we came back and that June—whatever that weekend after Bonaroo was—it must have been June 12th or something.
So I’ve literally been writing until we finished writing for this New EP, that I have on iTunes. It was pretty intense when I got here. It was 1-2 writes a day, which ya know, that’s my job, but two writes a day like all week is crazy. Sometimes I was just like, “I need time to think of ideas!”
So what is the song writing process like for you?
It’s so dynamic! When people ask me, I’m like literally I cannot give you a straight answer because its so different everyday. Sometimes, I’ll come into a write and I’ll have, you know, a couple ideas, but I won’t have something like super strong, but then I know the writer, they always will have crazy ideas. So they come to me and I’m like “hey well I was thinking this melody, and you were thinking this song idea” and then sometimes I’ll be like “there’s a verse and a chorus I have, and I don’t know where it wants to live, but we HAVE to write it! It’s on my heart I’ve got to write it right now.” You get to know these writers, and you get to know what sort of their technique is [and] how they approach a write. So for me, it’s super dynamic. I’m inspired by everything from my friend’s stories, to my personal life, to not my personal life, to just hearing a four-on-the-floor and a melody in my brain, and I’m like “don’t know what this melody means, but I’ve gotta write it!”
Well that’s so fantastic, I think that’s the creative process in its essence…
YES! It’s magical and fluid and it’s totally unexplainable. It’s cool.
And then the song, you’ve been promoting “Steal Me Away,” so tell us what was the writing session for that like. Where did that inspiration come from?
Oh boy… So, Lee Thomas Miller and Ilya Toshinsky, who Ilya is my producer, they were the two co-writers. It was a 4:00 write — it was a later write – which I kind of like writing sort of towards the end of the day. It’s like ohh everybody’s unwinding and, you know, you can let your thoughts kind of roll. So it was at Black River, and we got to Lee’s space that he has there. We were just chatting. It was our first time writing together (us three) [because] I’d written with Ilya before. And Lee he was like, “well what do you guys think of this title, “Steal Me Away?” And I was like “OH I LOVE IT oh my gosh!” And then me and Ilya had gotten together earlier that day and come up with crazy melodies. Just kind of like, “oh we could throw this out and throw that out” to just be prepared. Well, Ilya and me were like “we have this amazing banjo lick” and it’s the beginning da da da da da *sings beginning of Steal Me Away* and so we were playing that on loop and sort of the melody an lyrics came out in 3 hours. And it’s just like, we’ve got a song.
You’ve got a hit song!
I know! Man, I just hope…people are responding really well. My intention for the song was to let the listener make up their own memory with the song…their own thoughts. The song is very colorful in a spacious not a specific way. For me it’s like my career…my dream. For someone else it could be a relationship, or it could be a new job, or it could be moving to Nashville! You know, it could be just anything. I want people do dance and be happy when they listen to it that’s the main thing.
Do you remember the first time you heard one of your songs on the radio?
One of the weeks we were on West Coast radio tour hearing “Love Thing” on the Highway…that was the first time I’d ever heard one of my songs on the radio. John Marks started playing “Love Thing” in late July and it was near my birthday and it was a really magical experience! It was featured for the female voices of country music, and we were all sitting in the car in Fresno. I literally started crying. Oh it was one of the best feelings in the world! It was like all this work you put in for a year to just have three songs. You know, you just write until you get one song that you’re proud of. It’s just a magical experience.
It takes so much patience!
Yes! So much patience. Seriously this career…if you’re not patient, I don’t know if it’s for you.
I was reading this article the other day, [that had] 7 questions you should ask yourself and they’re really random questions. It was trending on Facebook or something. And, [the author] was like, (oh I’m about to cuss sorry) “what kind of shit sandwich would you eat, and does it come with an olive?” Basically, that question was saying what kind of hardships are you willing to endure for a career that you really want? And it said, if you want to be a musician and you don’t really feel like facing rejection over and over and over and over again and failing miserably at every song you write…[that career] probably isn’t for you. If you can’t experience failure, this isn’t the career for you. Not patient? This isn’t the career for you.
So I just appreciated him saying that, cause you just have to be fearless in the writing room, on stage, playing guitar, everything, meeting people. I mean, it’s crazy how fearless you have to be and how you have to just know yourself really well.
You have to be confident.
Yeah I mean…confident maybe, but I’m kind of just a loco crazy person, and I just love people so I’ll just go up to anybody be like hey we should know each other cause you’re a human, I’m a human, we’re wonderful aren’t we?! *laughs*
Speaking of SiriusXM, one reason they started the Fresh Female Voices is because there’s been a lot of talk this past year about a lack of females on country radio. How does it feel to be a female trying to be on country radio?
*Laughs* wonderful! It’s amazing to be considered to be in the running to be a more prevalent female on country radio, because yes, there aren’t many females, but really there are. Unless you’re on the outside, you probably don’t see it…you see the top three girls Miranda, Carrie, Taylor (kind of) and you know Kacey Musgraves, and Sara Evans, but that’s generally it. But, there are so many girls waiting in the wings. SO MANY. I performed with two of them tonight [editor’s note: The other two female performers were Maddie Newton and Baylor Wilson]. If radio just let one of us break, that will open the gates to MORE FEMALES, which is great! I mean there are so many great females I’m in the same boat with right now. And they’re on the same radio trail as me. Like Kelsea Ballerini…I love her stuff. She’s wonderful. I haven’t met her – I hope to meet her really soon. But you know, RaeLynn…and all these girls that are sort of pushing their first single and getting their music out there. I’m all about supporting other females, and if one of them breaks HECKK YEAHHHH then that is awesome, because that’s a movement for all of us. I’m a bigger supporter of females.
Just to wrap things up, we’ll end on a fun series of questions. So what’s your spirit animal.
**laughs** My spirit animal?! I feel like it’s a Lion. I am a Leo. Have you seen the video of this trainer who’s befriends these lions? He raised them up from little babies, and when he goes back to Africa and visits them in the wild, they go up to him and hug him. I feel like I’m very friendly and I can be very warm, but when it comes to my career, I am going to do whatever I need to do. I will work hard. I will work really hard. NOT screw anyone over…that’s not what I’m saying. But, I will practice my guitar, and I will pick up the mandolin, and I WILL be doing my vocal scales everyday. And I will be out meeting people even if I’m dirt tired because you know what? That’s what I need to do.
What song has been stuck in your head recently?
Oh there’s a song [on the album] Slipstream by Bonnie Raitt. It came out a while ago, but that album I listen to over and over again. I think Bonnie Raitt has a song for everybody to relate to…I mean she’s just amazing. But [the song] is called “Not Cause I Wanted To.” The hook line of the song is *sings* “I only did what I had to do/not cause I wanted to.” And I just feel like that’s such a complex line that like, when I first heard it, I was like OH MY God. It’s about a relationship basically; it’s about a relationship not working for whatever reasons. But she did [break up] cause it was best for him, best for her. You know, relationships are messy. But, as a songwriter, I was just like WOW. What a powerful line! I hope to write lines like that. That will affect people like that…like how I was affected by that line.
Alright, next fun question: Do you have any unexpected or random songs on your iPod?
I’m SUCH a ham with Broadway! I LOVE Broadway. I also was in an a cappella group in college, so I have a lot of a cappella music. And I was in choir…I’m such a nerd. But I also have a lot of choral music on my iPod, because sometimes I just need to get away from all the stuff that I’m doing and put on some ahhhh *sings like a choir*. Like stuff that I’m not doing at all. I’m listening to music everyday, that’s just who I am. I don’t really ever have silence, unless I’m in a Yoga class or something. Sometimes it’s just nice to listen to a choral song in German and you have no idea what they’re talking about, but the music’s making you feel a certain way. I just love choral music, and a cappella.
To finish up, if a song played every time you walked into a room, what song would it be?
I think it would honestly be “Don’t Rain on My Parade” by Barbara Streisand. **She starts to dramatically sing the song**
The beginning of the song is like intense violence **sings **DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN. It’s like an I’m-going-to-take-over-the-world today kind of song!
Well, thank you for taking the time to talk with us today!
Oh thank you!!
If you like Steal Me Away text olivialane to 27538 and to get a free download of the hit tune. Get it now, so you can say you were one of the first to buy Olivia Lane’s music! The “Steal Me Away” music video is also coming out soon, so follow Olivia on Twitter (@OliviaLane26) for more information on that project. Olivia’s debut EP, “Love Thing,” is available on iTunes, and you can hear the title track on The Highway.