INTERVIEW: Olympia 

Today is an exciting day for Olympia because her sophomore record ‘Flamingo’ is finally released into the world. The theatrical and emotionally charged record hears the Melbourne singer-songwriter delivering a collection of bold tracks. Finding a contrast between the idea of grief and desire, she addresses the similarities between the two feelings in a romantic tone. To celebrate the release of the record, she will be hitting the road in October for a string of headline shows which are promised to be a bold and sonically glittery affair. 

I recently chatted to Olympia about the unique approach she took to the creative process of ‘Flamingo’, intertwining the idea of grief and desire into the concept of the record and reflected on her favourite touring experiences. Check out the chat HERE; 

TB: ’Flamingo’ is a bold record that also serves as your most personal collection yet. So how did you approach this record differently from how you approached your debut album ‘Self-Talk’ to open yourself up in a more emotional way? 

O: I had set out to deliver a whole world within the album, one that you’d step into from start to finish. Which was my most significant departure from ‘Self Talk’ in how I wrote the record. All the research, writing, personal excavation and demo experiment was all about tooling me to be in the right space for the music to spring from. 

It had to be immediate and fresh. I couldn’t sit on a finished song and keep polishing it, revising and refining it. I couldn’t allow songs to settle. The songs needed edges and questions. This was a huge risk to take.

‘Flamingo’ is an emotional force. It’s different to ‘Self Talk’ from the get-go. This was done through how I wrote the album, the instrumentation and the production choices. Everything was about creating something urgent, confronting and modern.

It’s a love record. More visceral than ‘Self Talk’. Lyrically it is speaking from within an experience, rather than from afar. I’ve heard writers and artists often discuss moving to New York to be close to the place where things happen and on this record I’ve tried create an environment so that the whole record is speaking from this emotional place and is informed by this energy. 

You’ll hear this in the choices of language. To strip out metaphors that you hear on ‘Self Talk’ to instead try and tap into the unfiltered and uncensored self. Sonically, it’s probably more urgent. It is certainly not a passive record. There are no take-backs, and no apologies. Guitars are up front, vocals are sung hard and we drove the studio gear to distortion.

TB: You intertwine the idea of grief and desire together within these songs. What was the similarities about these two feelings that attracted together for you? 

O: Desire is about lack. To paraphrase Lacan; you see a house you like and you buy it. You look out the windows of the house that you thought you wanted and you see the house across the street and now you want that house.

Grief is also about lack, and longing. Wanting things out of your grasp.

TB: You’ve described this record as a love letter from the living and a joyous tribute to someone you lost. So when you were working on the sonical structure of these songs did you have an immediate idea of how you wanted to balance the emotions? 

O: Absolutely! While the album is informed by an emotional force, the production of the record was a million considered decisions about how to best represent the whole of the record. Once you step out of the initial writing phase, each additional phase, production, instrumentation, artwork and live shows must reflect and consider the whole and must be new.

TB: Reflecting on the release of your debut album ‘Self-Talk’ in 2016 and then beginning to work on the creative process of ‘Flamingo’, what would you say was the biggest thing you learnt about yourself as an artist? 

O: Working on this record reinforced my love of the process and the digging. Whether personal, or secular, the drawing together of threads into singular idea is a big passion of mine.

TB: You first premiered some of these new tracks at Bigsound last year. Walking away from those showcases, what was your biggest takeaway on how people were reacting to the new music? 

O: The audiences seemed to respond easily to those shows. It’s a visceral record, and it seemed to translate immediately which was so exciting.

TB: From playing these showcases and then going on tour and seeing the fan reactions and hearing how the songs come to life, did it alter any of the ways or sonical opinions you had when you worked on finishing the record? 

O: No, not at all. The only thing that changes is the audience. It depends on where their ears are, and what they’re being exposed to. In Europe and the UK, audiences are exposed to a greater range of innovative and varied artists and seem to understand what we’re doing better. Australia is a little more conservative musically and ‘Flamingo’ is quite a different to other Australian albums or at least at the moment anyways. 

 TB: You have done a lot of touring over the years, so reflecting on those experiences what would you say is one of your favourite ones so far?

O: I recently toured with Julia Jacklin through Australia, the UK and Europe and it was such a great run. There is so much to admire about Julia Jacklin, and I’m very fortunate to have toured alongside her.

TB: Let’s play a little game of rapid fire questions where I’m going to ask you some questions that you just need to answer with the first thing that comes to mind.

O: Okay!

TB: My pre show pump up song is… 

O: ‘Girlfriend’ by Robyn

TB: Pineapple on pizza is…

O: Probably not what they do it Italy

TB: The emoji that best describes my album ‘Flamingo’ is…

O: The fire!

TB: If I could have any super power it would be…

O: Time travel

TB: My go to snack on tour is…

O: Coffee

‘Flamingo’ is out now! You can purchase a SIGNED copy from Sanity HERE; https://www.sanity.com.au/products/2423032/Flamingo__SIGNED_COPY 

Flamingo Australian Tour 

Friday 4 October – Anglesea Memorial Hall, Anglesea

Saturday 5 October – Corner Hotel, Melbourne

Friday 11 October – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney 

Friday 25 October – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane 

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