“Stop and smell the roses.”
The age old cliche we all forget to listen to. Especially in America; fast paced, the world’s stage. Brooklyn based producer and songwriter Oliva Reid is slowing things down a bit. Not in terms of the music, it’s actually a rather exhilarating production, but in terms of mantra. Inspired by the fast-paced life she became a part of after moving to New York City to enroll in NYU’s notorious Clive Davis recorded music program, “Take in the View” is a reminder to just be human once in a while. It’s the second single Olivia’s released so far in 2020, and is part of her forthcoming Earth Water EP. C-Heads just recently caught up with her to talk about her new single, being a female producer, and more in this exclusive Q & A.
“I think in a lot of ways a ‘view’ isn’t always something that you see but it’s more of a feeling. Taking in the view means to remember it, to soak it up, and save the memory for a rainy day.”
How has your creative process changed with the restrictions from the current pandemic?
I’m back home outside Sacramento and I find myself going back to the basics, writing with just me and my guitar. It’s how I wrote songs growing up before I could produce beats at all, so I think being at home has really re-centered that. I brought home a mic, some headphones, and a tiny MIDI keyboard so it challenged my production process to work outside of the awesome studios I had access to in New York. It’s definitely made for some interesting vibes, which I’m sure will lead to a whole new energy in the next project.
“Take in the View” is part of a batch of singles you’re rolling out in 2020. What makes this collection of songs linear and how do they play off each other?
Yes! TITV is off the Earth Water EP. I landed on the name because my production and lyrical metaphors kept leaning towards these same environmental elements. The two elements that spoke to me the most were the floating, dreamy energy of water, and the grounded, organic feel of the earth. Often I think of the electronic elements like analog synths and muted bass as the water, and the earthy drum tones and acoustic instruments as earth. The songs are very introspective and a lot of times a little imaginative – I love taking everyday mundane feelings and turning them into grand narratives or romanticized poetry.
What inspired writing “Take in the View”?
In middle school, I was always listening to songs from bands like Empire of the Sun and MGMT. I wanted to make a song that gave you that same epic, windows down, vibin’ in the sunshine feel… just with my own stamp on it. The lyrical concepts came a lot from always being on the go and working all the time in NYC or LA and needing a pause. I grew up in nature in Northern California so I’ve always realigned by taking in the view, whether real or imagined.
You co-produced this track with Jack Laboz. What was your process like working together on this record?
Jack and I are really good pals who met our freshman year of college at NYU. We’ve done co-writing sessions together for other artists often and just vibe on a friendship level, so when I was like “I want to make a windows-down” song, he was all for it. I knew he would value my role as a producer while also bringing in a different flavor, and we started the beat together when both working down in LA (though it sounded so different then!). I ended up taking it home to engineer some of my own sounds, add acoustic guitar, and coming back in with all the lyrics and melody. My production style is a little experimental so it was awesome to work with someone who let me vibe with it on my own, and also made the final song super tight and high energy. I added the sax arrangements with player Morgan Guerin later on, and Jack is a great energy to have in the studio. We’re always joking around and having fun- so I think that big smile energy comes through in the vibes of the song.
You’re in the minority by being a female producer. Were there any role model producers (of any gender) you’ve looked up to, and what do you have to say to any young girls who have aspirations to become a professional producer?
When I first started producing a few years ago, I thought that all the condescension and flat out bias meant I had to do it all on my own in order to be taken seriously as a producer. I needed to be able to point to something and say “I did all of that”. The industry is built on the male producer stereotype – where some people see a male name as a co-producer and they assume he’s the one who produced it all- even if I did 70% of the production. It helped my confidence a lot to learn production by working alone, but I missed collaborating and knew there were producers like Jack or my friend Jae Luna who would respect me and help grow my work. I’ve always looked up to Björk for speaking about this topic, and artists like Florence Welch who have a lot of agency in their sound even when they aren’t always given the production credit they’re very well entitled to. To young girls with aspirations to produce, know that your ideas are just as valuable as a man’s and that the tides are changing! It takes a lot of pioneers to break a stereotype down, and it’s important to not be discouraged. Though it can be discouraging at times, connecting with other woman producers will help; by lifting each other up and creating a safe space to grow in your craft.