Olympia is an artist who continues to grow. Fresh from creating on keys and guitar in Paul Dempsey’s band to curating her own visual and sonic storytelling, Olivia Bartley is readying herself for the drop of her latest LP, Self Talk. Crystallised through a series  series of live dates that will see her play around the country, Olivia continues to hallmark her moniker with glittering energy and attitude; breaking down her mentality, writing and feelings into a killer one-fell-swoop.

Often interested in the internal and unseen chaos of people, Small Talk is set to turn heads. Recorded with Burke Reid (Courtney Barnett, Jack Ladder, the Drones, DZ Deathrays, Sarah Blasko), it’s an album that’s laden with brilliant metaphors, filmic soundscapes and a weight that belies its writer’s ethereal voice. Caught in the hype of the release, I chatted with Olivia to talk process and conscious decisions, all of which influenced Self Talk


Your new track ‘Smoke Signals’ is inspired by the life of a reality TV star, is it easier to write songs from another person’s perspective? And do you then relate that back to your own experiences?

I do definitely relate it back to myself. I mean that’s part of the inspiration, I kinda like to get a visual representation and something personal and then something sonic and tie it all together which makes the song. I thought that the idea of Nasabi from Sweepstakes Life, I just thought that was such a visual portrayal of somebody’s internal and external chaos. Somebody who can’t tell fantasy from real life anymore. I guess that’s kind of what the whole album is about, those stories we tell each other or those stories we tell ourselves about who we are, that self talk.

The film clip for that track is soon to be released. What was it like working with someone who’s collaborated with people like Coldplay and Peaches?

It’s nuts! And I told him he’s too experienced to do this but he wanted to.

 That’s so nice! That must have been a great feeling.

Honestly, it is a good feeling but it just takes so much work to do a film clip. It’s 95% love, you know, there’s really no money in it. I’m so humbled that Alex wanted to be involved. And you know, he was like, “would you do this? would you wear masks?” I was just like “Alex, I’d do anything for you.” It’s nice to have that working relationship where you do respect each other and decisions are made as a result of that. It’s ridiculously ridiculous – I’m so lucky.


A photo posted by @Olympiamusic (@olympiamusic) on

“I’m really interested in working what I call “process driven”; which is just put the work in, follow the ideas and see what happens at the end.”


Do you produce any of the tracks yourself?

 I write on my own. I sort of write by pulling all these ideas apart and then drawing and then writing and making a mess in the studio. And then I worked with Burke Reid who produced Courtney Barnett and Sarah Blasko. I really feel like it’s been collaboration between the two of us just throwing mud at the wall and seeing what sticks. We recorded the same way that I wrote, you know pulling ideas apart and seeing what would happen and just sort of pushing each other.

Is the final product usually something similar to what you had in mind or does it change over time?

No, that’s what’s so terrifying when you go into the studio. I find the same thing even when I buy a brand new notebook, you’ve got all these blank pages, it’s like, what’s gonna happen? I’m really interested in working what I call “process driven“; which is just put the work in, follow the ideas and see what happens at the end. That’s how I like to work and that way at the end I’m surprised!

Yeah it keeps you on your toes! So do you have your own little studio space?

I have my own little writing studio space and I’ve got all my equipment set up in there as well so I can practice.

Oh cool! Can you describe your writing space in three words?

Yep. Umm messy, post-it notes and couch.

Lovely! It sounds very homely. And do you ever get writers block? What’s one thing you do when this happens?

Oh, all the time, it’s terrifying! I go for a walk around the block, I call all my family members. I guess that’s just procrastinating. But really I work 9-5. I sit down, I don’t really wait for inspiration I just work through it plus I just write pages and pages of crap. I just think it’s important to keep working.

Yeah that’s good too because it get’s rid of all the crap stuff and makes way for the good stuff.
I hope so!

Nice, where are you performing next?

I’m performing in New Zealand and then I’m going to be on the Paul Dempsey tour. And we’re doing our own album launch tour around the country too.


Thurs 26th May – Newton Social Club, Sydney
Avail via www.newtownsocialclub.com

Fri 3rd Jun – Black Bear Lounge, Brisbane  
Avail via www.oztix.com.au

Sat 4th Jun – SOL BAR, Maroochydore
Avail via www.oztix.com.au

Sat 11th Jun – Producers Bar, Adelaide
Avail via www.oztix.com.au

Sat 18th Jun – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne 
Avail via www.northcotesocialclub.com

Fri 24th Jun – Amplifier Bar, Perth
Avail via www.oztix.com.au

Sat 25th Jun – Odd Fellow, Fremantle
Avail via www.oztix.com.au