Trained as a jazz musician and now immersed in the indie-pop scene of L.A., Olivia Morreale knows a thing or two about blending genres. Her latest single PARASOMNIA is no different. Taking the distinct sounds of 80s pop and putting her own experimental spin to it, Olivia manages to create something that feels nostalgic but completely fresh at the same time. To celebrate the release of her new single, we had a chat to her about her music, the creation of her EP and the difference between New York and L.A.
RC: Hi Olivia! Can you describe the music you make in three words?
OM: Weird sparkly pop!
RC: You said that you wanted your latest single PARASOMNIA to reflect the innermost psyche. How did this idea come about and how did you develop it into your music?
OM: The lyrics started as an exploration of the dichotomy between what you want to do and what you know you should do. When we had finished writing the verse and chorus, we hit the bridge section and decided to use experimental vocal production instead of lyrics in that section to try and emulate the feelings and voices that we feel in our sleep and in our subconscious beneath an emotional section of music.
RC: Your music has a synth-pop sound very reminiscent of the 80s. Was it a deliberate choice to evoke the sound of this decade or did it happen organically as you were developing your music?
OM: It definitely happened organically. We wrote the last song on the EP “Matter of Time” first, and it has no synths, but after Eli got a REV-2 we started playing around with just recording in audio from the sounds we were creating on the synth, and so the rest of the songs definitely ended up having that feel. We also started getting more experimental with the vocals and harmonies after we expanded to using more synths.
RC: You grew up with a lot of jazz-influences at home such as Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. How does this reflect in your music?
OM: I’m primarily a jazz singer when it comes to phrasing and altering the shape of a repeated melody — it’s hard for me to sing the same melody twice, which can sometimes be problematic but also contributes to a lot of the individuality to my sound and is a large part of what I have to offer as a musician. I also think listening to big band arrangements and strings helped my arranging chops down the line and gave me a sense of how melodic hooks can support the overall melody and enhance the song on a variety of levels.
RC: You moved from New York to LA which each have very different music scenes. How do you think each city helped influence and develop your sound? Do you feel more connected to New York or LA?
OM: Such a hard question! I was just discovering the jazz scene and starting to learn about jazz on a professional level when I lived in New York. I don’t think I would be a professional musician if I hadn’t lived there and explored the jazz scene and the tradition of the city, and so much of my family is there so I’m definitely tied to the city in many ways. But I also think that because so much of the session and touring work in the pop world happens or is booked in Los Angeles, musicians in LA are maybe more attuned to what types of music people are connecting with on a larger scale currently. I think it’s really important to be aware of the current music scene, even if you only want to play bebop for the rest of your career. Even if it isn’t music you would sit down and listen to, if there is an audience for it, it’s an indication that the music currently serves as a medium for connecting people to one another and to themselves more deeply. That has always been one of the most valuable aspects of music in my opinion, and to be a well-rounded artist I think it’s important to pay attention to what is popular and to analyze why, even if that leads to the decision to go in a different direction. I’ve found a lot more of a balance and awareness of those aspects of music in Los Angeles than in New York, but I definitely miss the city and want to live there for a little while sometime soon and learn more.
RC: PARASOMNIA is the second single of your EP Space Dreams. How did the EP come about? Do you feel the events of the past year have helped or hindered the making process?
OM: The EP was written over the course of about a year and a half with my friend Eli Koskoff. We really just used it as a setting to improve our songwriting and producing skills, and we work well together so what started as just one session evolved into an EP over time. This year actually helped me to get together the materials and release the project because it had been basically finished for a while – so even though it was difficult to continue working as a musician in other areas and I lost all of my jobs doing side work and touring, the EP was one of the things that I probably would not be releasing right now if I hadn’t taken the time to finish and develop the project further.
RC: What are your hopes and goals for the coming year?
OM: I have releases lined up for most of the rest of the year and am working on the best way to plan out the material currently! I’m working towards building an authentic world and brand for people who vibe with my music to enter into when they check out the project, and when touring resumes I’m looking at landing an opener slot as I continue to release music throughout the year.
RC: If you could perform at any venue in the world, where would it be and why?
OM: Venue-wise I really don’t know! Somewhere big but not too big, where the audience could get absolutely lit but I could still see their faces and be equally as lit. I feel like somewhere in Spain would be great for that very specific scenario I just described.
RC: Lastly, if you could perform with any musician, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
OM: My answer to this is different every time but today it’s Freddie Mercury. He’s a legend and knew how to party!
PARASOMNIA is out now.