Walthamstow’s Olivia Dean wears her heart on her sleeve; every tune an introspective masterclass in storytelling.
Words. Sam Taylor. Photo: Fil Mawi.
While most of us may have spent the summer missing live music, Olivia Dean took matters into her own hands. Packing out a custom yellow van, she took to the road playing socially distanced shows. It’s that kind of commitment that marks out an artist dedicated to make things better, with emotionally rich, powerful music that has genuine soul. That, and she was also featured on Blue Peter. That’s one up on everyone else.
Hi Olivia, how’s it going? What are you up to today?
Hi! It’s going well! Keeping on keeping on, you know? Today I’m giving myself a manicure, playing some guitar and trying not to worry about the US election.
It’s exciting your new EP is coming. You started working on it before lockdown kicked in, right? Did that impact how it turned out?
Yes and no. I had the meat of it done before lockdown. If anything, it allowed me to focus on it more without any distraction. I’m so happy with how it’s turned out, and I can’t wait for people to hear it.
How have you found working around all the restrictions this year?
Obviously, it’s been a tricky year for everyone, but it has pushed me to find new ways of doing things. I like to find the positives in a negative situation. I converted my big yellow van and toured that throughout the summer. I also managed to shoot my own music video in my back garden for ‘Baby Come Home’. I feel like I’ve learnt a lot!
“I focused on myself a lot more and feel like I know myself so much better for it”Olivia Dean
Has the isolation impacted your songwriting at all? Did it help you focus in on yourself?
I tried to take the pressure off myself and focused more on finishing ideas rather than writing new ones. It was nice to have a creative break. I focused on myself a lot more and feel like I know myself so much better for it.
Do you think people have wanted different things from music this year to normal?
Yes, I think people are looking for comfort in music more so than ever before. Me and my friends have really been looking back to old music.
Is this collection a precursor to your debut album, or is it still a bit early for all that?
An album is certainly on its way. I’ve got something in the works for next year, just watch this space.
Do you have much in the diary for 2021?
Yes! Two sold-out shows at Jazz Cafe, which I’m so gassed about. And hoping to get the truck out of hibernation so I can do some more regional shows.
It feels like a brave move to be booking in gigs at the moment, have you had to plan your touring with social-distancing in mind?
Yeah, the whole idea with the truck was that it allowed me to perform in safe spaces where the audience were able to social distance. It is totally self-contained and self-sufficient, so we can really just rock up and perform without creating too much of a crowd or disturbance.
What do you hope to have achieved come this time next year?
Really good question, I’d love to have done some more shows around the UK and put some more music out into the world. I just really hope we are back to some kind of normality by the end of next year. Stay safe, peoples. Sending love!
Taken from the December 2020 / January 2021 issue of Dork.