Olympia – Across The Ocean


Watch out for hot prospect and rising up and comer Olympia (aka Olivia Bartley) who has delivered her outstanding debut album Self-Talk.

June will be a massive month of touring for Olympia and there is no doubt there will be a new legion of fans waiting on every stop on the tour when this album is launched. Olivia completes a quick Q&A with Across The Ocean ahead of the tour.


Congratulations on Self-Talk, are you happy it’s finally out there for the world to enjoy?

Thank you! I am. I did not anticipate the level of response I have received from the album – it’s been incredible. I have actually been incredibly sick during the release (bad timing), so I don’t know if it’s my weary immune system, but often I hear a track on the radio, or someone sends me a message about how they feel about a track – and I am quite emotional about it. Going into the album, and as an artist in general, I was really hoping to move people in some way. Like most goals, I didn’t actually expect to meet it – but it feels like we have and that’s a strange, overwhelming feeling.

I still struggle to put this into words. After so much work – and I’ve been playing for years to rather polarizing reactions – I feel very lucky for how the album has been received.

What was your reaction when you played the final version back for the first time?

It was a few weeks after we’d finished the recording and I’d put the album into its playlist that I kind of got the sense of what we’d really made. Up until that point I’d get hung up on individual songs. My computer tells me I’ve played Blue Light Disco two hundred and seventeen times.

When you wrote the single Smoke Signals was there the feeling that you nailed it?

Haha – we had a lot of fun pushing the song while we were in the studio. There are a lot of BVs in the song that got taken out – it was quite a lolly-shop of vocals, and so much fun to create. I think when I first heard it back – and when I hear it now, I still hear that sense of play in the song, I remember making an album and a great song with my mate, Burke, and it makes me happy.

What artists/bands inspired you during the creative process for Self Talk?

Musically, I took under my arm my love of bands like Timbre Timber, Suicide and My Disco, and a lot of 90’s hip hop. Some songs are direct responses to other artists’, for instance Tourists was a response to a Jenny Holzer piece, Fishing Knots/Blood Vessels takes its name from a Fiona Hall body of work and Somewhere To Disappear also takes its name from a documentary by photographer Alec Soth.

How was the process of making the album?

I spent a lot of time alone writing the album. I’m a nine to five writer (ok, not always those specific hours). But I don’t believe in waiting around for the perfect conditions: for the fairy godmother of inspiration, for the perfect studio, your ideal BMI, etc. I sat in my studio and wrote and re-wrote. It was tough. I also wanted to push my writing on this album (let’s be honest, I pushed all my skills). There is a Robert Frost quote which I can relate to in the making of this album: ‘No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader’.

Was the studio experience challenging?

Sure thing. The studio experience is challenging on multiple fronts, one of the most significant is you hear what you really sound like. Instead of how you think you sound. There’s nothing quite like trying to lay down a guitar track in the studio – all raw and up front. Trying to get this little sonic tattoo perfect. There’s no lying in the studio.

Was it hard letting go of the songs?

Also for me, the creative process is never-ending. I find it so hard to let go and say ‘that’s enough’. If I had my way, I’d still be kicking the songs into shape, evolution after evolution.

There are some things that are not ‘perfect’. Points were the voice is fatigued, or the guitar slides ever-so slightly out. And while you have to let go at some point (gosh, the bill would be insurmountable if you kept going), I really love listening back to the record as it is – it’s a living thing.

Were there many songs left over? Will the leftovers appear on something else?

There were a couple of songs abandoned in the process of making the album, some that didn’t quite fit. I will leave them be. The album was designed as a body of work. Even those that didn’t make it belonged to that thread. I look forward to starting from scratch for the next body of work.

Do you feel the weight of expectation now?

Yes. To be honest, I’m really used to people underestimating me. There’s no stepping off game now. *Cancels plans to go home and practice*.

What was the biggest thing you learnt during the recording of your album?

That’s a great question. Recording can be soul-destroying. It’s tough work. One thing I learnt is that when challenged, it’s better to respond from a place of self-security. Trust yourself. Trust the people who are working closely on the record. Once you start doubting yourself (easy to do), you just start sounding defensive. It’s a slippery slope.

Are you excited about this upcoming tour? Must be hard to kept a lid on the excitement building up to the tour?

I can’t wait to get on the road. There’s a lot of administration that goes into it logistically, advertising, organising supports – that helps pace my enthusiasm! But we’ve got a great team of artists coming with us, and we can’t wait.

Are you looking forward to playing in Adelaide?

We sure are – we love playing Adelaide.

Do you have a favourite Adelaide tour story?

Hmm…I’ve played Adelaide supporting Lanie Lane, Lamb, Paul Dempsey & most recently Holy Holy. One of my most memorable Adelaide moments was watching Lamb play Fowlers Live. Having toured the country with them (they are great!), Fowlers Live was the smallest venue we’d played on the run – maybe the most intimate show they’d played as well for a long while. The show had life. A whole new life than other shows. I don’t know if the audience quite knew how good they had it.

Are you tempted to play the album start to end? It is really, really, really great….

Haha – awesome! Well, we could actually do that if you’d like?!

What’s the plan beyond this tour, is heading overseas a big focus for you?

I’d love to go overseas and play. After our own tour, I’ll go on the road with the wonderful Paul Dempsey who is bringing out an awesome record. And then, who knows.

Rob Lyon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rob Lyon has been writing about all things music for well over ten years in Adelaide clocking up more live shows each year seeing the best going round.

Whether it is rummaging through vinyl at record stores such as Clarity and Title finding hidden gems to scouring the internet to find that album by the next big thing or chasing bands to get that elusive autograph and photo his passion is music all the way.
Rob Lyon

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