By Sydne Wheeler Larsen
“Why do you think you’re here?” Olivver asks himself, posing a question a friend once asked him. His answer? “To help.” It’s rare to find a musician who has such humility as Olivver. He’s bringing something to pop music that is woefully lacking: pure, so-honest-it-hurts humanity.
Who is this guy? That’s what I marveled about while we spent the morning on a park bench in Central Park, watching school kids skip by, petting Buster the dog, and fielding the odd glance from older couples who were intrigued by Olivver’s colorful, full-sleeve tattoos. I quickly learned that this Olivver, an L.A. transplant with pink hair and lax overalls, is as sincere as the man in the music who sings: “I did it for you, and I’d do it again”. This lyric comes from the bridge of his latest single, “World on Fire”, where he offers to burn down his friend’s prison of vice in order to save them from their own destruction. Olivver the Kid has “many fucks” to give about life, and here’s why.
This is an interview for a college radio station. You’re here for CMJ [College Music Journal’s Music Marathon]. Do you want to talk about college for a bit? Mhm, yeah! I love college, and I think that college is very necessary. I think that it’s really where I found myself. I was a different person before I went in and after I went in—I was an English major for three years, and then I went to New Orleans and I was a music business major. I dropped out with three weeks left. [To tour with The Neighbourhood.] I actually went back last year and taught four classes—guest-taught four classes for music business.
Do you think that having that time off, getting into the music biz with The Neighbourhood and then being able to reel it back in and have reflection time, do you think that’s been helpful too with how you go further with Olivver?Yeah that’s one of the reality checks for sure. That was a big one. Even going back, I grew up in hardcore bands and punk bands. I played a thousand shows before I was ever in The Neighbourhood. To nobody—To go from that, to a massively successful band, and come back down from it?...It’s humbling. But it tastes better—the minimal success that I have in this project tastes better. Because it’s mine. You know what I mean?
How did you work out the “Purge” Video? Either the video itself or the personalities, the subconscious people. There’s six of me, and all those people in the “Purge” video are all parts of my subconscious. Lucy is the feminine part of my subconscious. Harvey is like my dad basically. It’s all just how I viewed myself at different points in time. My friend has a tattoo on him that I love—it’s intense—but it says “I hate myself” on his stomach. And whenever anybody goes, “Why do you have that tattoo?” He says, “Cuz sometimes I hate myself.” All those people were how I felt about myself and you can see throughout it that not all those people are negative. “Purge” was about me, all the negative things that I think about myself, I’m purging them. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0iOaHbkIWoM] We were talking in one of my classes the other day that for women, it might be easier for them to navigate all these different niches and personalities than men. I’m very self-aware. Like I walk into a room and immediately, I’ve looked at everybody in the room already. I know exactly where I am, I know where the fire exit is. And I’m very aware of, like, I don’t want to ever be rude or imposing, or have my body language be wrong, or look at someone the wrong way.
Even that far? Yeah. That’s different than most males I feel like. Typically. Going to high school, for me at least, I played football, but all the other guys on the football team didn’t give a fuck. “I don’t give a fuck, I have no fucks to give,” that’s a popular saying. And I’m like, “Oh I have A LOT of fucks to give, I give many fucks. I care. I care about everything.”...That level of intensity about giving a shit, that’s what I feel like separates me from other people. You know what I mean? Yeah, I care.
Your next EP is called The Boy Who Cried Wolf, which is a reference to the Aesop fable. You said that it’s also a storyline - you like story writing and poetry. How are you using the Aesop fable, or not using it? The whole EP is about—it’s very literal talking about this fantasy world: these woods and these two people in the woods. But it’s a metaphor for whatever your fear is, or your addiction. If you’re a drug addict, “the woods” is your addiction.The main character is in the woods—and then he gets out. As the story progresses, he sees a friend, somebody that he cares about, go in. And so “World on Fire” is right around the time where he’s like, “I’m gonna go back in and try to help my friend and try and save my friend so that they do not succumb to being a wolf”— to whatever their fear is, whatever their vice is. It ends on a bittersweet note; it ends on a, “I can’t help you, you need to help yourself,” kind of thing.
The Boy Who Cried Wolfis out now! Go rep my bud Olivver the Kid over on your select music services
Full audio interview available on The Giggs.
Syd is a music enthusiast, cookie monster, and knitter of lumpy socks. She’s booking an all-women’s music festival on Barnard’s campus in December calledGigg On, Girl Festival. Join the Girl Gang @giggongirl.
Photos by Adam T. Powell, Travis Keaster