From "Permission" to "Justice," Olya's Evolution as an Artist Shines Through Her Discography
Olya © 2023
Today we have Olya here on Goathead for an amazing Q&A.
GH: Can you take us back to the time when you released your debut single "Permission" in 2016? How did that experience shape you as an artist, and what did you learn from that early release?
Olya: "Permission" was both the first time I wrote something a bit more risque AND the first time I took to my orchestral roots more seriously. When writing the song, I put a lot of effort into making it sound like part of a full orchestra, resembling my early years as a violist from elementary school to college. Previously, I had not put so many instruments into my songs. This changed me as an artist and showed me that my love for classical music didn't have to stop because I wanted to write popular music. I could simply find a mix and that is what I try to do now while also experimenting with other sounds. As far as what the release helped me learn, I feel that the song constantly reminds me of my own talent when I start to feel like I fall short. It really painted a starting point for my more orchestral sounding songs and will be rerecorded in time with my updated equipment. Ah, that reminds me. A funny thing I learned that all new artists should know is to SAVE YOUR WORK. I trashed the whole album after its release because I did not understand that I would want to come back later to redo it. For any artists reading this, you will want to keep those files.
GH: "Catwalk," "Things That Don't Work Out," "Not Moving On," and your latest single "Justice" have all left an impact on your discography. Can you talk about how each of these singles represents a distinct chapter in your musical career and personal growth?
Olya: Of course! I think my favorite part about writing my own music is seeing my growth whether it's about how I produce my music or what I write about. "Catwalk" was my first real try at mixing something that I thought sounded similar enough to popular music to be liked but still had the dark style I tend to enjoy. My inspiration was actually the Weeknd for this track. This was also the first time I directed, shot, edited, and completed the entire project on my own. Though the project doesn't measure up to my current standards, I have to be proud of the work that went into "Catwalk" as a whole. The song itself is about self confidence and was written as if it was a song playing during a runway show. Personally around this time I was just trying to build self confidence. I will talk next about "Not Moving On". This song was actually written years before it came out. I tend to release my favorite songs later than they are written because I overthink too much. I am working on getting better at that, though, as can be seen with my latest releases. Career wise, this song has been a crowd favorite no matter who listened. I think the significance of this song is partially in that it is so memorable to others, but also in that it marked a very important growth milestone for me. When I wrote this song, I was learning how to prioritize myself in a situationship I was in and heal from trauma. I was far from where I am now, but I was at a point where I could know I deserved better than what I was getting AND acknowledge the pain of letting go. Looking back on the song, I see it being written more about moving on from a past version of me rather than the relationship it was originally written about. "Things That Don't Work Out" is a beautiful song. I remember when I wrote it in my apartment and it was very emotional. I find the best songs are written with feeling, as they can communicate well to others. Career wise, this is a song that surprised me with its popularity. When releasing an acoustic live version, I thought it would be boring to others as I tended to focus on what the top charts showed, but I was wrong. I have had people ask to cover the song and it is still one of my most popular songs on Spotify. I must say that feels really good to see because that recording is not at all produced. It's raw. I am so thankful it showed me that my raw, live, music could be shared and loved just as much as something produced on a computer. Personally, this signified a point in my growth yet again. Without going into too much detail, I grew up in a very toxic environment after being adopted internationally. This caused me to develop difficulties in relationships and other areas of my life for a long time. You can hear in the song towards the end where I say "now I'm spiraling and I'm flipping out cause my trauma is winning now so I'll forget...". That has to be my favorite part of the song. "Things That Don't Work Out" itself was an acceptance song. It was a fight with the part of me I knew was trying desperately to be seen / loved and the part that was growing and learning. It was a milestone because it was around this time that I was becoming aware of how my inner experience was affecting my relationships. And the final one, "Justice". This song is also a favorite. It has a catchy beat AND talks about a very important topic. As a career milestone, this song was one of the ones I brought to San Marino to be on Una Voce Per San Marino in Jan of 2023. One of the best things that happened there was that this song made one of the judges dance. I also, for the first time, allowed myself to move more on stage while performing. I am usually very self conscious, so this was huge for me! This song also taught me a lot production wise. The release that is currently out, although better than my previous releases, is not what I wanted it to sound like. I have since learned from my production mistakes and am currently working on the re-release. Once I do this, I will be re-releasing all my other songs with the same production workflow as "Justice".
GH: Among your singles released between 2016 and 2023, is there one that you feel had the most significant influence on your artistic development? What made it stand out to you?
Olya: I am going to say "Justice" holds that title right now because it shaped my artistic development in so many ways. It has shaped my production style, my vocal style, and what I want to write about. I already spoke on how it has shaped my production skills and still is, but I didn't mention the others. In terms of my vocal style, I am doing vocal coaching, something I have never truly done. It is because of this that I learned that the darkness I love using in my voice is a healthy way to sing. Previously, I thought I had to use whatever comes out. I now know I can stylize my own vocals in a healthy way and "Justice" is the first time I am doing that. It is interesting hearing the difference from other releases as well. I am very excited for this change in my vocal quality.
This song also shaped how I want to write and what kind of artist I want to be. It was in this song and really the entire Una Voce Per San Marino experience that I realized I wanted to do more than just release songs. I want to release experiences and put on experiences for people. I see artists like Taylor Swift or Halsey with how amazing their performances are and I think "Yes that is how fantastical I want to be".
GH: Your latest single, "Justice," was released recently and has already been well-received. Can you share the story or inspiration behind this particular track and what you hope listeners take away from it?
Olya: "Justice" itself was written to be an upbeat song about a serious topic. Right before it was written, I was thinking about how many survivors of childhood trauma don't see their abusers apprehended. As I was thinking about this, I thought about what it might be like if there was a movie about adult survivors banding together to save children in toxic environments. "Justice" is the speech I would give in that movie to my fellow survivors. I want this song to not only stand on its own, but to be a meaningful project for people to experience and be a part of. I really hope this song and its project inspire millions of survivors to feel strong and that it reminds them that they can take their power back. Currently, I am running a trend on Tik Tok where I want people to tell their story with the song. I have had some very inspiring entries already from cancer survivors to fellow survivors of trauma. If you care to join, feel free to follow me @olyavmusic on IG and Tik Tok.
GH: Looking ahead from 2023, what exciting projects or future releases can your fans anticipate? Are there any specific themes or musical directions you are eager to explore in your upcoming works?
Olya: Oh, I am SO excited for future releases. My most exciting one is the other song I brought to Una Voce Per San Marino. I wrote it specifically to be sung at Eurovision and it is my best work so far. The song is called "We Could Have Peace" and is in English and Ukrainian. The song itself is completely cinematic and ideally would be played with a live orchestra. This song will also be a project just like "Justice" but I have more ambitious goals for it as well. Every once in a while in the world, a song comes out that makes everybody stop and think. For a moment we all get along and think of our humanity. I want "We could Have Peace" to be that kind of song. Another release I am excited about is "I Imagine". This song is already acoustically live on youtube, but is not yet on Spotify. The song is for fellow adoptees and paints how it feels to not know your birth family. I look forward to giving a song to fellow adoptees that I have not been able to find otherwise. Lastly, I have a song that has been in Logic Pro (my DAW) for years called "Static". I hadn't released it because the song was actually too hard for me to sing when I was younger. I can do it now and am very excited about it. The song itself talks about what it is like to have intimacy anxiety and fear in relationships. The song is more rock alternative than pop, but I love mixing it up a little!