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Radar: Laura Olivia

xxi-6-m-lauraoliviaDublin singer-songwriter Laura Olivia talks to Kate Cleary about on-stage nerves and covering Miley Cyrus

The words tranquil, hushed and serene come to mind when listening to the sounds of Laura Olivia. Few musicians today are capable of capturing the unique style that flows through each of her songs.

It wasn’t always so easy for the Dublin based singer-songwriter, who came from a non-musical background. “I always assumed I couldn’t sing. I’d go out of my house belting out songs. I probably sounded like a bag of strangled cats but I did it anyway. I remember my mom telling me not to go into music because none of us had been musical before.” Despite this discouragement Laura is now in the process of recording her latest EP and has supported bands such as The Weathermen.

Having a more established writing process than when she first began recording at the age of 15, Laura sums up this process as something that is constantly growing. “Usually I’ll accidentally write some sort of guitar riff and I’ll add some lyrics to that then, but I try to do it all as I go, it’s more organic.” Still unsure of how to fully use her software, she has been experimenting with “more computerised instruments”, heard in her latest recording of ‘Paradis Perdus’. “I’ve just been messing around with it, it’s more fun”.

These more electronic sounds differ greatly from her previous recordings, influenced largely by the sounds of Laura Marling, Mumford and Sons and The National. “My writing style has changed a lot recently, but Laura Marling is definitely the biggest influence of my earlier songs, just from having listened to her so much. It’s the same kind of style, a guitar and a female voice.”

In the last four days alone Laura has recorded three songs, but her process isn’t always so efficient. “The last month or so I haven’t written much. Sometimes I’ll go weeks without even picking up my guitar and other times I can’t put it down, I’ll do tonnes of stuff at once.” This system is clearly one that works. Along with her own original songs, Laura has recorded several covers such as ‘The Boxer’, ‘Take Me to Church’ and ‘Wrecking Ball’. “Once my dad bet me €50 that I wouldn’t cover a Miley Cyrus song, so I did”, she smirks.

Whilst recording her latest EP, Laura has attempted to collaborate with various artists. “I’ve decided to go ahead and record it myself, I’ve tried to record it with several different people which has been fun because each person has brought something new to the song but I’ve never been happy with the overall result.” Deciding to remain a solo act is a decision Laura has been forced to make before “it’s much easier to write and record on your own. You don’t have to organise much, and you can just do it when you get the chance.” Despite this, she often collaborates with other artists, “I’m pretty annoying about asking people to do songs with me, I’m always asking.” As for the EP, a solo decision is the right one for Laura. “There are certain aspects that people brought to the songs we worked on that I really did like. I need to just pick all the aspects that I like from each and just settle on something final and record it myself.”

In spite of this, Laura prefers preforming with a band. “With a band it’s different because you can chat to them right up until you’re on, but when I’m on my own I’m just sitting back stage by myself trying not to forget the words”, nerve-wracking for any artist, especially when it’s happened to you before. “I’ve forgotten all the lyrics to my own songs which is sort of traumatic when you’ve been working on them for six months.”

Despite a somewhat slow start, and a few on stage mishaps, Laura Olivia is set to only grow as both a writer and performer, captivating listeners with her gentle, almost ethereal, sound.