By Kate Ferguson
New York-based singer/songwriter/musician Olive Louise has released a single and video for “Bad Things,” a fantastical, yet very real, bop spin on anxiety-ridden experiences.
I caught up with Olive about the inspiration for the song and lyrics like “Therapists had said/You’ve got to stop yanking at your head,” and “Bad things are gonna happen here/You heard it here first.” We also talked about making the video, which mixes just the right amount of whimsy and strangeness to feel dreamlike, memory-based, or how Olive explains below, “like a child’s imagination.”
The single is relatable in concept, extremely catchy, and Olive engages in every sense possible.
Tell me about the inspiration behind the song. Is this based on personal experience?
Bad Things is based on my experiences with anxiety and therapy when I was in elementary school. I had huge separation anxiety from my parents and was always worried that something was going to happen. I would try and leave class to call and check in on them multiple times a day. If my parents didn’t pick up a phone call, I assumed something must have happened and would go into a state of panic.
My parents eventually decided to put me into therapy but I felt like every appointment was just free candy from a bowl and my therapist saying things like, “ in with the good thoughts, out with the bad thoughts” repeatedly until it was time to go home. It felt like I could never be fully comfortable no matter where I was because even when I would start enjoying something, there was always a looming feeling of worry that would get in the way of me just being a normal kid and going out to play.
The video is very pleasingly story-driven, I’d love to hear about the process of conceptualizing and shooting that.
Thank you!! I really appreciate you saying that! My idea was for it to unfold like a child’s imagination when being read a storybook but from my point of view as a kid who lived it. When storyboarding, I knew it needed to really feel like anything could happen at any moment because as a kid that’s what life felt like for me. I loved going back and forth between being like, look at what I’ve experienced, and then also, welcome to behind my experiences. I always felt nuts and it always felt like no one was listening. I wanted the video to be transparent.
The video to this was especially fun to create. We literally turned my living room upside down and drilled the chairs and carpet to the ceiling… and then almost burned the entire house down when we lit the mannequin’s hands in the house. I got to pick out props from stuff I had collected over the years to create the therapist’s office.
How fun! Adding in your personal life…does that feel vulnerable or does it just feel like a release?
It felt like a release. I was just so happy to turn my experiences into something positive. It felt vulnerable too, but that doesn’t make me nervous anymore. I am who I am.
Tell me a bit about your background and getting started in music. Is it something you’ve always done? When did you know you could make music?
I grew up practicing the violin before school and after school and would fall asleep to my mom practicing the piano. My mom was the most amazing pianist ever and taught me discipline so I had that part of me nurtured pretty early on. I realized I loved writing and storytelling because both my parents really let me explore creatively. My mom would make up stories at night about a kid flying to the moon with his cello, and my dad would read me his poetry. I fell in love with writing first and it became lyrics later on.
I really started off writing poems and short plays that I would put on in the living room with my puppets and then I combined the music with the writing. I just love music. I never knew I could do it, I just did it because I had ideas and was excited to share them.
What sort of relationship (if any) do you have with fear?
When I’m truly scared, fear rules me. I think it comes from my lack of faith that there’s something looking out for me or anyone in the world cause I sort of lost that a long time. I’d like to say that I’m this super non-fearful person, and in some regards that’s true.
I’m not scared to stand up for myself or to speak my mind and even when I question if there’s a reason for everything I still make the best of every situation, but I do feel fear for the future because I want everyone I love to always be healthy and happy and for people, I don’t know to be and I know that life sometimes has other plans. I just try not to live in a state of constant panic cause it’s all out of my control.
What artists (or anything really) has been an inspiration to your music?
Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady and I was watching The OA around the time I wrote this song. I keep watching that show. I really relate to the main character Prairie Johnson played by Brit Marling. Brit Marling is a huge inspiration to me. She wrote and produced it and is also a phenomenal actress.
Any interesting stories about connecting with fans or making cool connections with people who’ve worked on your projects?
Yes! Since I’ve released Bad Things, I’ve gotten so many DMs from a lot of people saying how much they relate to my song and they’ve gone on to share what’s going on in their lives. It’s wild because in no other circumstance would all of these people I’ve never met feel comfortable enough to completely tell me what’s going on in their personal lives like they have, and I know it’s because the music speaks to them.
It feels amazing knowing that it’s allowed people to feel safe enough to share and that they can relate- that it’s done something positive for people. I’m really so lucky to have their support.
Any goals you’d like to share?
I want to put out all the music that’s been on my computer!! I’m so ready to start doing live shows and for everyone to hear all of the new music.
Are you currently performing anywhere?
I am getting dates!! But I am performing at Eat See Hear & LA Times, in California on June 13th!! So many more performances to come. I’m beyond excited.