The purple world of powerhouse pop princess Olivia O’Brien

“I live in a purple world/ Lavender highs and violet lows/ I started seeing purple all around me, everywhere I go/ It once was just a pretty colour, and then it reminded me of you/ Now it reminds me of something much bigger/ Of the things that I can do/ A fresh start, a new meaning/ A strong vibration, a light beaming/ In everything that I keep seeing/ In a purple world, a purple feeling.”

Whisking us away into the dreamy purple world of powerful pop princess Olivia O’Brien, the end of her debut album’s opening track “purpleworld” explains why she loves the colour so much. “It also represents creativity, royalty, spirituality, and is the highest vibrational colour of light other than white light. It’s a special colour and has been my favourite since I was a child.”

Olivia O'brien

Delivering commanding messages of empowerment, self-discovery, and emotional strength, Olivia O’Brien is bringing us a (very much appreciated) fresh new take on pop music. Straight off the back of her debut album release Was It Even Real?, a collection of ten magical tracks exploring relationships, loss, recovery and self-love, we caught up with the L.A. based powerhouse to talk about where it all began, and where it’s heading. After a sudden jumpstart to her music career back in 2016 when she made the beautiful decision to collaborate with gnash on the huge track “i hate u, i love u,” she’s spent the last few years homing in her musical style and discovering new avenues for lyrical expression. “I wrote the song one night in my room on my Yamaha keyboard. I still have the same one in my room today. I didn’t think anyone would ever hear it and I definitely didn’t think it would become what it did.”

“I write whenever and wherever I am inspired. My room at night is probably the place I write the most though.”

In 2017 Olivia went on to release the five delicious dark-pop tracks that formed her debut EP It’s Not That Deep, basing the songs on what she felt, experience and observed whilst spending the year in L.A. It’s Not That Deep discusses love-sickness, unwanted emotion, alienation and reckless social-climbing through hard-hitting lyrics and empowering visuals. “I don’t really think the songs fully resonate with me anymore unfortunately. Each of my songs represents a specific feeling at a certain time in my life, so it’s kind of like a time capsule. There are definitely moments when those feelings will creep back in briefly, but I feel like because I’m constantly changing and evolving, very few of my older songs represent where I currently am in my life. All the songs are special to me in different ways.”


Fast forward to 2019, and the songs representing this moment in time are the ten tracks from Was It Even Real? Teasing us with what’s to come through her release of the confident and sassy “UDK,” Olivia was able to clap back at her critics and put the know-it-all haters back in their place, whilst still clinging onto her bouncy upbeat production we all love. “I wrote this song with this producer and writer duo Anton and Tobias with whom I wrote the entire album. It was one of the more fun and less emotional songs to write. We mainly just messed around with different sounds I liked inspired by artists like Fleetwood Mac, SZA and Drake.”

Her next teaser came in the form of “I Don’t Exist.” With deep, soulful vocals and stunning accompanying visuals, Olivia movingly captured the feelings on an outsider looking in. ““I Don’t Exist” is inspired by my experiences in L.A. and feeling like I don’t belong or that no one cares about my existence. It’s pretty straightforward, I feel like the lyrics kind of speak for themselves and there is not really any hidden meanings as with most of my songs. I’ve never been one for metaphors or beating around the bush, my songs are genuinely how I let my emotions out and I kind of have to just say it how it is. Sometimes, being around beautiful, rich, and famous people every day can make you feel like you don’t exist, especially when it feels like no one cares about what’s real and focuses on the shallow, material aspects of life.”

Olivia O'Brien

“I definitely have a lot of control, but I like to have people who know what they’re doing in charge when it comes to the visuals. I love to give my feedback and suggestions and help as much as I can with ideas, but I’ve realised that I really don’t know what I’m doing when it comes to that side of things, so it’s nice to have directors, creative directors, stylists etc to help me out and inspire me. What’s nice is that I always have options to choose from and I am always allowed to say no or change something to be exactly what I want.”

With more messages of self-love and personal growth, Olivia collaborated with The Neighbourhood frontman Jesse Rutherford (Jesse) on the empowering “Love Myself,” spreading the important advice: “Before I love anyone else I need to love myself.” “I honestly don’t think much about collaborations, probably because a lot of my dream collaborations seem unrealistic to me. I’d love to work with Kevin Parker (Tame Impala) but I am also so in awe of his talent that I’d probably be so star-struck if I met him, I doubt I would ever be able to write with him and keep my cool. Right now, I’m just doing my own thing and if an artist I like reaches out to me and likes what I’m doing, I’d love to collaborate. It’s all about the right situations and the right fit.”

“There are so many artists I listen to. My all-time favourites can be found in a playlist on my Spotify called ‘This is how random my music taste is’. As far as what I’m loving at the moment: Still Woozy, Omar Apollo, Yellow Days, Jesse, Dijon, Gus Dapperton, Cage the Elephant, Duckwrth and much much more.”

Olivia O'Brien

Photographer: Niklas Haze

Stylist: Rachel Williams

MUAH: Reve Ryu

Writer: Lily Major

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