INTERVIEW: Olive Louise refuses to be destroyed by the difficulties she has faced

Olive Louise’s dazzling dreamy single “Undefined” is the perfect example of a song that makes you feel something deep in your core; that express so much conviction and courage that you cannot help but be completely moved.

The pensive pop artist’s gentle offering lulls you in with graceful vocals and soft, soothing strings. Losing her parents at a young age, she refuses to be characterized by her misfortune and “Undefined” is a bold statement of strength.

Passionately singing, “I am a phoenix from ashes I’ll erupt. I am a phoenix, I can fly,” she empowers others who have dealt with tragedy to rise from the pain and start anew.

The Brooklyn-based pop talent possesses angelic, emotive qualities reminiscent of Ellie Goulding and Florence Welch while also displaying a unique style all her own. A classically trained singer, listeners are drawn to her musical poise and intricate arrangements. Her other singles “Fool” and “Bad Things” display a more vibrant electro sound while “Undefined” is a lighter faraway feel.

COLLiDE spoke with Olive Louise about her poignant new release, creative process and more.


Your powerful new single “Undefined” is a poignant narration of the painful adversities you experienced throughout your life, a major one being the loss of your parents. What was it like bringing those intense emotions to the surface?   

 It felt bittersweet and like a long time coming. I have other songs I’ve written about my parents but this one felt like waving hello to them, if that makes any sense. It felt like seeing them without feeling sad for the first time in years and telling them that I’m going to be okay.

Your meditative, wistful track has so much deep meaning. What was your process like when crafting the stunning soundscapes and profound lyrics?  

Harrison and I wanted it to sound really ethereal, like soaring above clouds or standing in an open field for the first time and feeling wind between your fingers before running.  We had the physical movements in our head with these visualizations, and that dictated what the strings would be doing.

The strings propelled the feeling to move. The lyrics changed form over time until I felt I was ready to put them down.

You titled the track “Undefined” as you found a way to not let your struggles define you. What advice can you provide for those overcome by their hardships?   

My advice would be to not bottle it in. Don’t pretend that everything’s okay.

Force yourself to let your guard down and open up to people you trust. If there’s no one you feel comfortable with there are so many platforms where you can reach out to talk to  someone totally removed from your circle so that you can still get the support you  deserve.

And secondly, I would say to give yourself the permission to heal and grow.  When you feel a moment of happiness, lean into it.

Growing up studying piano and violin from your mother, who was the lead pianist of the Long Island Philharmonic Orchestra, I’m sure has taught you a lot. How has that tutelage shaped you as an artist?  

I think I write like I’m writing a vocal part for a violin because that’s really how it all started. My mom and I used to improvise together, she on the piano and I on the violin, and it really helped me to not think so technically about music. She taught me to feel what I was playing.

Seeing her passion and the release she got from playing transferred over to me and I just hope that she’d like the music I’m making now.

On the topic of childhood, yours was a very unique one as you were raised in Kings Point, New York (the estate that inspired F Scott Fitzgerald‘s novel The Great Gatsby). Can you explain your childhood experiences and how they have influenced you today?  

I grew up really isolated, but not in a bad way. I wasn’t allowed to be on the computer or to watch typical TV. I grew up watching My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, movies about classical composers, and Antiques Roadshow.

I spent the summers practicing the violin and the piano and gardening and sailing with my parents. We spent a lot of time outdoors as a family doing things together. We never had interruptions when we were together. There was no texting.

My parents were also huge on family meals! My mom was an incredible cook, so I learned from her. I finally figured out a couple of her recipes this year. I also had a wild imagination and used to walk around creating stories out loud about dragons in the chimney, and tooth fairies that lived in the tall trees, and my parents just let me explore that. A lot of that came from the Estate I lived on looking so magical.

I’m so grateful that they never shut that down and that I was able to feel comfortable enough to use that, it definitely shaped my writing. The way I grew up really made me value family and quality time, and it taught me the importance of really being there while you’re there.

Speaking of influences, who are some artists or musicians that really inspire you?

I love Oren Lavie’s “Her Morning Elegance.” It always gets me. I’m also listening to Florence and The Machine’s song “Delilah” on repeat even though it’s not a new song. They’re both such beautiful storytellers in their videos and in their music.

What has been your favorite musical collaboration and whom would you like to collaborate with in the future?

I feel extremely lucky to be collaborating with all the artists I’m working with right now and each experience is special in it’s own way. I’m loving working with Jonny Shor. He has some truly incredible ideas and it’s just been a real blast creating with him. He also brought a couple really talented musicians in to play, and I really missed hearing live  instruments in music so needless to say, I’m very happy!

Lastly, what’s next for Olive Louise?

More music! A new song toward the end of January! The video’s finished and all. I’m truly excited about it. I think more and more I’m finding the acceptance to express myself without feeling insanely awkward or embarrassed!