UK audiences respond viscerally to band-based music, says artist Olympia ahead of Electric Brixton show

Known on stage as Olympia, up-and-coming Australian singer/songwriter Olivia Bartley talks to us ahead of her gig at Electric Brixton on April 4.

Her UK gig will form part of a European tour with Julia Jacklin, a fellow Aussie musician. After the success of Olympia’s debut album ‘Self Talk’, her new single ‘Shoot to Forget’ is a snapshot of what is to come.

This new track reinforces the conceptual inspiration behind Olympia’s songwriting, synonymous with her first album.

“Songs for me start with an idea. I usually build a song around something personal, something conceptual, something real,” she said.

Olympia, 27, has found inspiration for her songs in various art forms including documentaries and photography such as the work of Adam Curtis.

“Something in his work has taught me that there is little point in presenting the world as it is- you need to present ideas up to people in a new way,” she said.

She explains that this concept has had a major influence on her new single ‘Shoot to Forget’ and her work in general.

Olympia explains that this song is about moving forward and forgetting through the eyes of a photographer who ‘shoots to forget’.

The song explores the idea of cultural amnesia in relation to photography and memory, influenced by American photographer Sally Mann and art critic, John Berger, who believe that photographs destroy memory.

Another source of inspiration for Olympia’s songwriting originates from her background in fashion.

She said: “My study of design has had the most significant influence on my songwriting. Designers including Hussein Chalayan; Commes Dec Garcons, and the filmmaker Pedro Amoldovar.

“Designers especially taught me to thread together multiple ideas, and that even something as ubiquitous as fashion can have strong social/cultural ideas underpinning it. There’s a lot to gain for a songwriter in this.”

Olympia’s music videos are artistic, abstract and visually intriguing which is echoed in her own appearance on stage.

She said: “Each artist is driven by a different force (that’s why they do what they do), but visual identity is important to me as an artist.”

Originally from Australia, Olympia expresses gratitude for the opportunity to travel around the world to perform for different people.

She said: “I find the audiences in UK very different to Australia. People in the UK tend to be listening to more bands – they seem to respond viscerally to band-based music.

“There feels like there is a real excitement about musicality, and the alchemy of musicians on a stage.”

Olympia is always writing new songs and hopes to release the album in full.

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