Singer-songwriter and producer, Olivia Reid is one of those rare talents that blends multi-layered production techniques and heartbreaking lyricism to create a complexity of evocative pop sounds that's unlike any other music coming out. Repeated listens of her latest singles like "Runner's High," "Take In The View," or "Wounds (Healing)" further reveal painfully intimate vocals draped masterfully over a tapestry of painstaking imagery on top of a rich palette of sonic textures. If this were any other musician, the complexity of the production would drown out such soft-spoken vocals, but what makes Reid such a wondrous artist to listen to right now is her ability to shape these exploratory electronic pop soundscapes in a way that allows the track to maintain a weightless fluidity with lyrics that strike fearlessly with emotional voracity.
In an exclusive interview with EARMILK, Reid provides an inside look at her songwriting process and the cathartic journey of an artist exploring her most intimate self to deliver music that comes straight from the heart.
"I think I really started in music just the picking up the guitar and playing around," Reid shares when asked about how she begins writing new tracks. "Song would come out in a two-hour moment of catharsis alone in my room and I think that's really where my songwriting style started."
On top of the brilliant guitar play and vocal ability, the talented singer-songwriter is also a gifted producer with a long history of being in the studio working and producing through various soundscapes. "While in high school I started doing some electronic toplines alongside a few producers at my school who would invite me to come sing on various tracks," she shares" So the production of the song always came first as I would hear an entire instrumental and from there begin to write lyrics and then form a melody right on top of it. But now, I think that my writing style very much bridges the two: I start with a guitar and then I'm finding the melody and little lyrics will begin to come out. I'm really just mumbling through melodies at first until little lyrics will pop up and suddenly an inspiration to finish out the thought. Or it starts with a little production idea or a piece of an instrumental or a sample, and then I build that out instead of using something like a guitar chord. I usually muddle through a little bit and something from my subconscious mumbles out and then I get to flesh that out a little bit."
"I think a lot of times I write these songs by myself, kind of alone in a room and that sets a certain tone for allowing yourself to explore things that you wouldn't otherwise," shares Reid referring to her single "Water Damage." She continues, "A song like 'Water Damage' is very much like a solo experience. And a lot of times I write some of these lyrics and then it's not until I'm on bounce 24 of the production that something clicks for me where I feel like I listened to my own lyrics for the first time. It's channeling something that maybe I haven't allowed myself to unpack or allow myself to think through fully but it kind of then just comes out in lyrical form.
"I don't think I have a really hard time writing a song that is purely happy or purely sad," Reid shares when discussing how she lands on particular emotional tones for various tracks. "I think that there's a lot of kind of straddling the in-between. And that comes from me in the production process, where I kind of find what the balance between those emotions are going to be in the final product."
Following her 2021 debut EP Earth Water, Olivia Reid's 2023 single, “Runner’s High” provided a more fast-paced, energetic look at the artist while still highlighting the immense instrumental range of her songwriting capabilities. She shares, "I was listening to the instrumentation provided by my collaborators on that track and felt inspired with the immediate idea of the feeling that I had been trying to describe and maybe in my own like production chops, hadn't been able to go there yet. So it was something I kind of been wanting to do and it fell into place when they reached out."
"Runner's High" is the lead single off of Reid’s new six-song project set for incremental release throughout 2023. Fueled by piercingly intimate lyrics and cinematic soundscapes, the collection of singles is set to conceptually detail an artist's introspection, and their slow descent into madness.
At moments, Reid's almost quivering vocals elude to an emotional trepidation that reverberates throughout her music that, as a listener, makes you feel as though you're either being confided to by a best friend or intruding on a deeply personal confessional. Reid shares, "Yeah, I think there's a lot of fear in releasing this kind of music but I think for me, it's realizing that the songs that have connected the most with me from the artists I listen to are the personal kind that are sort of fearless and felt as if they were written in a very intimate setting. And for me to replicate that, and share it with everybody can be scary especially because I didn't even come up with like a cool artist name. It's just my name. So it's very much like you put yourself out there."
But as Reid's evocative storytelling can easily send you into the depths of your own innermost emotions, the rich atmospheric production in various tracks allows for a fiery cacophony of sonic textures that makes the listening journey equally enthralling as it is introspective. "I think that every time I kind of open up that emotional door, it's a kind of a healing process for the songs that are the most personal, and as I'm accessing certain things, feelings, or memories in each track, it kind of makes them feel less and less intense. Every time you open that door, it allows you to explore these emotions and integrate them into who you are."