Even through her darkest moments, Olive Louise has always found a way to look on the sunny side of life. She enjoyed an idyllic childhood on the magical estate that inspired The Great Gatsby. Sadly, these memories would become wistfully poignant as both of her parents passed away before she graduated high school. In the depths of loss, her love of singing ignited. Still, Olive found herself less than enthusiastic about her self-image and hesitant to participate in her own creative collaborations. Her new single “Fool” casts off the shrinking apologies of her past and probably announces her liberation from needing everyone else’s approval. For the first time, she refused to be sorry about who she was or what she wanted to achieve in music and in life. Olive will be the first to tell you that despite her ups and downs, she is grateful and excited for what her new normal has in store for her moving forward. You can stream “Fool” HERE.
Cliché: What was it like growing up on the estate inspired by F Scott Fitzgerald‘s The Great
Olive Louise: I didn’t know it was the estate that inspired The Great Gatsby until I was in fourth grade, and
even once I knew it was, it didn’t change the way that I saw it. It was already magical, and it’s
own world outside of everything else. My family’s home was called “ The Pavilion” and was at
the very end of the estate. It used to be the pool house, and was made of mostly windows that
rattled and had to be taped up during storms so as not to blow into the dining room. I loved
when it stormed because you could hear and see everything so clearly with our home looking
out across the Long Island Sound. Many people think of a ginormous, elaborate, bedazzled
mansion when they think of The Great Gatsby, due to the movie. They picture elaborate cocktail
parties, expensive cars and ostentatious people. When in reality, my parents were humble
people who cared most about their family and my mom bought anything she wore at a thrift
shop. We took long walks together in the fall. My mom loved gardening and picking fresh peas
and mint in the summer. My dad loved horseback riding and taught me, my sister Emma, and
some of our close friends like Ashley and Sophia, to ride. In the winter, the snow was so heavy
we would slide off of the deep end of the pool, and make our way up the ladder to do it again.
There was a very tiny pond I called the wishing pond where we would drop pennies in to never
be seen again. My Grandma kept chocolate bars, and babybel cheese in the bottom of her
fridge, and we would mold the red wax and discard the cheese. We played soccer in the field
and basketball in front of the Boat House. We watched the birds pick the freshly shed hair from
the shetland pony and create a nest with it. We had pumpkin hunts and easter egg hunts and I
learned how to ride my bicycle there. To me it was home, and when I miss it, I don’t miss it for
the amount of land there was or for the fact that it was The Great Gatsby Estate. It was literally
its own world where all of my memories with my parents were formed, and where my sister and
I learned how to do everything. The only time I really thought about it having inspired the novel
was when people we didn’t know would drive down the road asking questions about it.
You have a particular affinity for jazz music. Would you say that jazz shaped your
perspective as an artist?
Jazz music played a major role in how I saw life and because of that it shaped my writing.
Everything I heard growing up was so beautiful and poetic, even when there were no vocals, or
when there was clearly deep hurt being conveyed. Everything was so sincere and raw and it
really spoke to me at a young age. They all in some way deal with the struggles of life, and the
uncertainty of everything but they’re honest about it, and I found that really comforting because
no one else had ever verbally acknowledged that to me, but the music did. The ending of the
song “Beyond The Sea,” “In a Sentimental Mood,” “I’ll be Seeing You,” were just a few songs that
really changed the way I viewed life. Jazz music made me more grateful to be able to be here,
and to be able to experience love and life.
Your mother was a lead pianist for the Long Island Philharmonic Orchestra. What did her
musical mentorship mean to you? How did she help cultivate your love of music from an
It meant everything to me, and it always will. I would wake up, we’d have toast with cinnamon
and sugar, and then I’d practice the violin for an hour before school, accompanied by my mom
on the piano. It was the same after school, I knew I would have time with her that was just ours.
She always made me feel like I could do anything. I used to get so upset when I came to a part
in a piece that I was having trouble playing, and she always reassured me that If I just slowed
down, and practiced that section over and over and over again, that I would get it and that it
would mean more to me because it was hard at first. That’s been a pretty good lesson in
general. I used to go with my dad and my sister Emma, and we’d sit in the front row at Tillis
Center and watch her play. The orchestra performed The Planets by Gustav Holst one time, and
when the audience stood up and roared, I realized it wasn’t just because of their amazing
technical ability, it was because the music was transcending. It had moved everyone. I always
felt that way watching her play the piano and watching her give piano lessons to her students.
She brought everyone together. She taught me that music really is the universal language and
as a really shy kid It felt like she gave me another way to communicate.
You tragically lost both your parents at a very young age. I don’t think most people can
truly grasp the devastation of such a loss. What did you hold onto during that time of
grief? Did your relationship to music change during that period?
Nothing was the same. The strangest things went through my head after my mom died. I didn’t
want anyone to touch the piano keys because she was the last one to play them and nobody
moved her cello, which was kept underneath the piano. The house went from being filled with
music, to unbearably quiet and still, even with all of the people that came in and out to leave
food and send their condolences. I didn’t play the violin and I avoided music class in school. Car
rides to school were quiet. I became a different person because my life as I knew it was gone. I
lost my parents separately, so I had a little bit more time with my dad. A while after my mom
passed, my dad started playing The Beatles again in the car. He would sing and tap the steering
wheel to the beat. I noticed that the songs that I gravitated to had changed. My favorite song
had been “A Hard Days Night,” and then I couldn’t stop singing “And I Love Her,” because the first
couple lines of the song felt like an escape, they literally felt other worldly to me. I started
writing after my mom passed, and when my dad noticed how happy it made me, he took me to
the library where there was a little recording studio called Levels, and I recorded the first song I
ever wrote. After my dad passed, I felt completely alone. But during that time, I wrote tons of
poetry. I spent a lot of time alone, and when I was with people I’d go from seemingly happy go
lucky to complete breakdown mode in seconds so the only time I felt safe was when I was
listening to The Kooks on my ipod and when I was writing poetry in my room. The only thing I held onto was the fact that I still had my sister, and I had extremely supportive friends that I’m still friends with today. I had this Chorus teacher at the highschool named Roger Ames, and he
really took me under his wing and made me feel like I could sing. It was my favorite part of the
week. The support was everything and music made me feel like life was bearable because it
gave me an escape and a way to show people how I was feeling without it being a pity party of
a conversation. I just wanted to make my parents proud of me and to use the life and the gift
that they gave me.
Talk about your new single, “Fool.”
“Fool” is the most “pop” sounding song I have, and I didn’t plan for it to be that way. I think it came
out that way because I had just found this new sense of independence and stability within
myself that I hadn’t experienced before. So when I came up with the lyrics, It came out so
bluntly because the way I was feeling was so straight forward and unapologetic. Before I wrote “
Fool” I would say sorry for literally everything. * Holds the door for someone walking into a diner
and says sorry* I felt like I didn’t truly belong anywhere and it came through in my physical body
during dance class, where I would literally be scared to take up room, and in the way I didn’t
speak up for myself. Fool really changed the game for me, and even though I don’t think every
song is going to follow in its lead, I know that the experience of creating something that wasn’t
as reserved and was more “ loud and proud” really made me feel better. It was FUN creating a
song that was about saying I want this, I’m going for it, call me what you want, see it how you
want, your opinion no longer makes or breaks me. I regained some control in my life and my
god, it felt good.
You said that you wrote “Fool” in response through a lot of negativity you were receiving
as well as anxiety you had about gaining some weight. Do you feel pressure as a woman
in the industry to maintain a certain image?
No one’s ever outright said I should look differently or dress differently, which I know does
happen to a lot of people. I think that that’s something I imposed on myself based on what I
always felt you had to look like to be taken seriously. I mean, even going into meetings I had to
remind myself to show up as myself, which was really strange, and something I wish I had had
the confidence to not worry about as much. The pressure as a woman in the industry showed
up in a different way for me, and that was feeling like I didn’t have a voice and that when I spoke
up, it was taken as rude, or ungrateful, rather than me just asking questions, learning, and
having the right to weigh in on a conversation. There’s a serious double standard because
when a woman speaks up about how she feels or what she thinks, she’s taken as sensitive or
written off, and when a man speaks up, people usually aren’t so quick to talk back or they take
the time to listen. I just wish I realized earlier on that I didn’t need to feel guilty. I wasn’t
outspoken I just needed people around me to show equal respect. A lot of people think that
they do, and they hands down just don’t. You can’t call people out when they don’t see what
they’re doing as wrong, it’s a waste of energy.
How did you go about rebuilding your body confidence?
I needed to embrace myself and want the best for myself. It became more about my health and
wanting to treat my body better. I started listening to motivational podcasts and speeches
before going to the gym or while on a walk outside! I think one of the best things I heard was
that, everyone’s ultimately going to a gym for the same reason, and people really aren’t thinking
about you as much as you’re worried they will be. People want to see other people doing well.
So I’d listen with my earpods right up to the door to get me to make it in. Aside from making the
effort to get healthier, I started wanting to find who I really was. I stopped wearing as much
makeup to let my skin breathe, because that’s what I wanted for so long. I was stopping me, no
one else was. At first it was scary going out and not wearing a ton of foundation to cover my
skin, and then I was like, WOW, this has been mostly in my head and I let it stop me from doing
things? I missed out on so many things and I just got sick of missing out. I think the journey is
different for everyone and It just helps to remember that it might be terrifying at first but after a
couple times, it gets a lot less scary and you’ll thank yourself for it in the end.
Were your insecurities also connected to the fear that your music would fail or that you
weren’t on the right path in life? How did you convince yourself that you were making the
right decisions or doing the right thing?
I never convinced myself, I just said I’m going to give it my all! I was definitely insecure about
people not liking it or picking my music apart like a pistachio, but then I got rejected a couple
times and got used to it. Which sounds bad but really isn’t. I also had people that loved what I
was creating, but not everyone’s going to love what you do, or think you “fit in”. Sometimes
people don’t see it ‘til later or they don’t see it at all but I’m cool with that. I’m proud of my art! It’s
a representation of me, and I’m happy with my journey.
I think that we’re not here for that long and that we should follow what we love and are
passionate about. Plus, the feeling I get when I sing is amazing. I genuinely get giddy when I
create something I’m happy with and then voicenote it to my sister like, “ CHECK THIS OUT
NOW!!” and she does the same with me. I love it, can’t see myself doing anything else.
What advice would you have for someone struggling with not liking how they look or
with a lack of life purpose?
My advice would be to first truly analyze where there ideas of purpose and beauty are rooted. I
think the important thing is to gain perspective and understand who you are outside of societal
and social constructs, because with that understanding will always come a sense of purpose
and a vision of what beauty truly is.
What are some strategies that you use to leave negativity behind, both from others and
from your own self doubt?
When other people are negative, I literally repeat in my head that it isn’t personal. I really
consciously try and step out of my own shoes. Everyone’s life experiences brought them to
where they are emotionally, and no one is in the same exact place. Once you realize that, you
have to acknowledge that even if someone has something negative to say about you, or even
on the smallest scale, texts you something that you take a certain kind of way, you have to
realize they’re not you, and it can mean something completely different. Even if it IS personal,
why should one person affect the way that you feel to the point where it ruins your day? When
I’m in my own way, I like to read “ The Power Of Now”. I also have this trick for when I don’t feel
fully present. I pick an object anywhere in front of me. In my head or out loud I describe what it
looks like, what it feels like and what the air smells like in the greatest detail I can. It forces me
to be present. I think that when we’re doubting ourselves or things feel chaotic it’s cause we’re
not living in the moment. In the moment, we always have possibilities to change, to grow, and to
find peace. We are a lot stronger than we give ourselves credit for.
I have this line chart that I drew years ago! I basically drew a chart of my life, and I saw that
even after this “ life line” plummeted with the death of my parents, it went back up. In ways I
couldn’t believe, my life did get better again, and even though it never went back to “normal” I
found a new normal. I know that life really is a roller coaster, and you can always count on it
going back up to a spot where you can enjoy the view.