Exclusive: Country Artist Olivia Rose

Interview with Canadian Country Artist Olivia Rose

Today on What On What’s Good with Jovin Tardif, I am here with Canadian country artist Olivia Rose.  Olivia is a two-time Edmonton Music Award-winner for Rising Star, a Top 12 Finalist in Alberta’s prestigious Project WILD in 2018, and a graduate of Canada’s Music Incubator in Toronto, which she attended on a full Bell Media Prize scholarship in 2019.  Her last single, “Put It Like That”.  Her most recent release is “Gold” is set to be released on Canadian country radio on March 15th 

1. Some of your musical influences include Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Miranda Lambert and Taylor Swift. If you can only pick one song from each artist, what would it be and why?

For Loretta and Dolly, I’d have to choose “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and “Coat of Many Colors” for the same reason – There is such a strong narrative behind the lyrics and I believe that the root of country music really comes with storytelling. This is the reason I look up to all four of these artists so much – they’re storytellers in their own way.

My favourite Miranda Lambert song would have to be “Runnin’ Just in Case”. The lyrics in that song are just so clever and gorgeously written. The entire Weight of These Wings album is so personal to her and I love to hear that come through in all the songs.

It’s a crime to only choose one Taylor Swift song! But if I was forced, I think it would have to be ‘Champagne Problems’ from evermore. Again, the lyrics are truly what drew me in. My favourite lyric from that song would have to be “November flush and your flannel cure” because that is just such a cool way of phrasing something as simple as “November was cold and your sweater warmed me up.”

2. You started performing and songwriting at the age of 9. Can you describe some of the songs you were singing at that time?

This is pretty interesting because I remember wanting to sing songs that had a lot of heavy subject matter (for a 9-year-old) like break ups or hardships in life. But my mom would have me sit down and read out the lyrics to see what they meant and if I had an emotional connection that I could pass on to my audience. I think that creating that reflection of the lyrics is where my love for storytelling through songs came from.

3. At 14 you were invited on stage by Canadian Country Legend George Canyon to perform your debut single. What can you tell us about this experience?

I was the intermission performer at the Shell Theatre, which is in Fort Saskatchewan. When I was backstage after my performance, George Canyon passed right by me and said “Oh hey, you’re Olivia Rose right?”

I was shocked that he even knew what my name was. Then about halfway through the show, I was in the audience when he mentioned me again – this time to the audience, who started applauding for me. He invited me down on stage and handed me his guitar, and asked me to sing a song for the crowd. As I had just released my first single “Make Up to Mud”, that’s what I sang! It was wonderful and I think it really goes to show how much of a positive impact an established country music star can have on a new artist. I’ll never forget how gracious he was in that moment.

4. Describe working with CCMA award-winning producer Bart McKay on your new single “Gold”.

First off, Bart is absolutely incredible at what he does so getting to work with him was just a dream. I recorded my vocals with him at his studio in Saskatoon and we completed all of them for “Gold” (including harmonies) and my last single, “Put It Like That” in one day! It was tiring and very rewarding all at once! Bart is amazing because he really makes sure that artists are completely happy with the final song and it’s such a great quality for a producer to have. I think this is a big part of why he is so successful.

5. What was it like co-writing “Gold” with David Borys?  

I’ve written with Dave many times before we wrote “Gold”, but what made this a different experience was creating a song that was a new direction from what I had been writing at the time. More often than note, I would write sad breakup songs, but “you are gold baby, solid gold” was a line I had in my head before our write. Dave loved it and “Gold” emerged from that experience.

6. What can we expect this year from your first full-length record?

As with most artists, the pandemic meant that I had to stop performing live. This was difficult on my mental health, but I re-focused that energy towards songwriting instead. Stepping back from live performances has ultimately made me a better songwriter.

Recording an album has always been a dream of mine since I was little, and I feel like there is no better time than now to do it! My writing has given me a lot of possible song options to choose from, so I’m working out the album cuts, but the biggest thing you can expect from this record is storytelling, storytelling, and more storytelling! 

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Jovin Tardif
Jovin Tardif is a freelance writer, storyteller, interviewer, reviewer and conversation starter.