RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW MANCHESTER ARTIST OLIVIA BOOTH
What made you decide that music is a thing for you?
Although I am not from a musical family, I have been surrounded by music all my life, whether my Mum playing 80’s classics, or my older brother and his friends playing drum and bass. My parents noticed I could sing when I was small and as I struggled with confidence as I got older, they encouraged me to take singing lessons and I have never looked back.
The first time I performed in public I was nine years old, and although I was terrified, I loved the reaction I got. When I perform live on stage it is the best feeling I almost feel a little safer up there, for me there is nothing else like it. I cannot imagine my life without music, and I am so grateful I get to do what I love.
Introduce us to you and your musical history.
So my name’s Olivia Booth, (there’s Mae Elizabeth in the middle but we don’t talk about that 😊), and as I mentioned earlier I started singing at a young age. As I progressed through school I was diagnosed with dyslexia and struggled with simple day-to-day schoolwork so I gave everything to singing and music.
Aged 14 my parents moved me to a performing arts school as a Music student and I absolutely loved it! It was here that they worked on my confidence and where I learned how to perform and write music… and I left with 9 GCSEs something I didn’t think was quite possible so result!
When I was 16 I left Warrington where I lived and moved to Brighton to study songwriting. I performed at Open Mics across the Sussex area and found my sound through collaborating with other songwriters and musicians. It was here at college that I met my backing band members Ed, Kian and Josh.
We performed at major venues in Brighton such as Patterns and Komedia and love performing together so much that they followed me back up North in September this year and now we all go to BIMM University in Manchester.
What was life like for you before music?
Life before music was cold and wet mostly! – To be fair I spent most of my early life following my brother around rugby grounds as he was a pretty decent rugby player shall we say, so all our weekends were spent traipsing up and down the country standing in the rain and mud watching 30 lads chase a leather egg up and down a field!
Now it’s his turn to come and watch me at my gigs!
What was the first song you heard that steered you into a music path?
Ohhh interesting question – apart from the very catchy nursery rhymes on repeat, I would say Price Tag by Jessie J, as that was the song I won the Year 3 Talent contest at my primary school with. The first time I realised people liked my singing.
Where do you feel you currently sit within the music industry?
I am just starting out working for a professional music career really and am still learning my craft. Although I don’t think that learning ever stops. I guess I would say I am an emerging artist in the Indie Pop/Rock genre and am a singer-songwriter that transitions well between acoustic and band sound. I do have a penchant for the odd ballad too.
What’s the biggest thing you have learned from someone else in the industry?
I have learned that you cannot please everyone and you have to stay true to yourself. Also to never give up, work hard, then work harder, and always work harder than the person next to you!
Tell us Two truths and a lie about you.
Well….. I used to play football, my Dad ran over my foot with an old Range Rover car, and I can’t ride a bike.
If you could wish for one thing to aid your career what would it be?
The obvious thing would be to write and perform an absolute banger of a song that everyone loves and has global success, the reality is I would love to support some big artists on tour. Hint hint, Harry, Ed and Sam 😉
Do you ever worry about people taking things the wrong way or cancel culture? Discuss….
Well, social media has always been a fear for me and continues to be. People are quick to judge or take offense, and not always fairly. I have written a song about being different or thinking differently than others, it’s called ‘Different’ and will be out among my releases which will be coming hopefully throughout 2024.
It talks about how people are quick to judge and make opinions when they don’t know the full facts. It contains the line ‘Read the story, not the headline,…. just because I don’t agree with you doesn’t mean that I can’t live life too’…
With regards to cancel culture, if you are in the public eye you must be careful these days not only with how you act but with what you say and how you say it. Embracing our differences and being both respectful and a role model for younger generations is so important. Cancel culture can be detrimental and there is already so much hate on social media and in the world. I’m just hoping to spread a bit of happiness and love.
Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories? If not why not?
My Dad loves a conspiracy theories, and we always mock him, then a few weeks down the line we find out he was right all along, so I would say no I don’t sign up for them but occasionally I get caught out. Still not sure I believe Elvis was working in our local chip shop though!
What was the worst experience on stage?
It has to be when I was performing in the Grand Final of Open Mic UK at the O2 when I was 14. I had a cold, thinking back it was the start of Feb 2020, and could well have been COVID but we didn’t know that then, anyway I was on stage in front of a panel of influential Music Industry Judges and had an almighty voice crack on the big note of the song, I was so embarrassed, couldn’t wait to get off the stage! But you live and you learn, I’d love to be back on that stage now.
Tell us something about you / each member that you think people would be surprised about.
I think dyslexia is always a surprise for people as over the years I have learned to disguise it and have strategies for dealing with situations where it can be a problem.
I cannot read black text on a white background and used to use blue overlays at school so I could read properly, but when I go to a restaurant trying to read the menu can be an absolute nightmare, and I can’t whip out a blue overlay there, so I have a little workaround or pick something I know will be on the menu!
What makes you stand out as an artist?
I think the tone of my voice and the diction of my words are easily distinguishable and can differentiate me from other artists.
I try to always be authentically myself, with no gimmicks or enhancements and I think the messages and strong storytelling in my songs evoke feelings that really take my audience on their own emotional journey.
I hear you have a new music, what can you tell us about it.
I have been working on a number of tracks in the studio, and my first release is a single called ‘Let’s Talk’. It’s written about the reluctance of men to speak up about their mental health if they are struggling.
I was inspired to write it after watching friends and family members clearly suffering from feelings of anxiety or depression, yet not willing to talk about it and keep it bottled up.
The figures around male suicide are highly alarming and heart-breaking yet I feel there is still a stigma around keeping quite because that’s the ‘strong thing to do.’ I want people to know that it’s okay not to be okay and that there Is always someone here to talk to.
I feel the lyrics in the song may encourage someone to reach out for help or support before it’s too late. The feedback I have received from audiences when I have performed the track live has been really powerful. People seem to resonate with the message ‘To be strong, is to find what’s wrong, say what you’re doing, feeling thinking…Don’t suppress it is the message’
What was the recording process like?
Each recording experience is different depending on the producer and the song. For ‘Let’s Talk’ it was just me and the Producer, I went in with the bones of the song and I knew how I wanted the story to be told and we added a chorus to add even more to what was originally there. I wanted it to be raw and stripped back and I think we captured that. When I perform live I usually keep it with just a guitar and me, the lyrics speak for themselves, to be honest.
My next release is a full band sound, lots of drums, guitar and bass so you will see a complete contrast. For that recording experience it was me and the band together so was completely different, some would say chaos!
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tunes?
I think the biggest learning is to be able to take constructive criticism without being offended or defensive. You start with an idea, and you are sometimes delving into your deepest emotions so it becomes more of a baby you’re protecting, then someone listens to it and gives you points to improve, and sometimes that can be painful.
I have learned collaboration is key, it challenges you in different ways so it definitely improves your work musically.
Would you change anything now it’s finished?
I think as an artist you can always look for areas to work on when you look back, but I am happy with it. I know at the time we discussed whether it would be better as a piano or guitar track and decided on piano for the recording, but when I play live acoustically I use the guitar, so it’s a win both ways really. For this song, I think the lyrics and message are strong and really hope it resonates with people to encourage them to reach out and talk.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
I have some gigs coming up and would love for people to come along. Some of them are for Charities so it would be great to see everyone there.
Also, more music coming soon, so give me a follow and you will hear all about it! I think you’re going to like it!