Hey Shelby Olive! Welcome to BuzzMusic! What does your song “Spin Me Around” represent for you, and how did you come to write it?
Spin Me Around tells the story of meeting someone for the first time and knowing they're going to bad for you but you want them anyway. There are all kinds of signs telling you to stop and turn around...but you're like "Nah, I'mma do this!" It's fun, it's flirty, but it's also a little bit cautious.
It's the first track off of my new EP, Bad for Me, and the EP as a whole tells the story of a broken relationship from beginning to end. Spin Me Around is the launching pad for the rest of the record. Funny enough, it was actually the final song I wrote for the project. It just barely made it onto the EP! I had scheduled my final studio session before having the song finished (rookie mistake) and after multiple writing attempts that didn't pan out, I woke up at 5am the day of the session and started writing SOMETHING. I came up with the piano melody pretty quickly, but lyrics took longer. I ended up finishing the song in the car on the way over to the studio-- literally sending my husband voice memos of me singing while driving asking for his feedback on the lyrics. I totally procrastinated it and wasn't sure how it would pan out, but it's honestly one of my favorite ones on the record! I guess I work well under pressure!
What’s the songwriting process like for you? Where do you begin, and how do you know when a song is truly finished and ready to share?
What a tricky question! My songwriting process varies from song to song, but typically my process looks like this: I come up with a chord progression I really like and then I sing some nonsense melodies over top of it until something sticks. Then come the lyrics! My lyrics tend to take longer for me because I'm really picky! Sometimes I start with a lyric and elaborate on that, and sometimes the lyrics come at the same time as the chord progressions!
I really enjoyed the process of collaboration with this new record in particular. My producer, Wes McCraw, and I got to work together to bring these songs to life (a lot of them started with just a basic piano loop) and it was truly a blast bouncing ideas off of each other and building these songs.
Knowing when a song is truly finished and ready to be shared is really difficult! I tend to believe that no song is TRULY finished or 100% ready. There are always going to be things I could change or adjust and I know it'll never be perfect. I think it's really a matter of 'ripping off the bandaid' so to speak. I obviously want the music I release to be the highest quality, but I try not to put pressure on myself. Ideally, with every new release I'm getting better at what I do. Having that perspective helps me with letting go. It's really therapeutic letting a song out into the wild and looking forward to what comes next.
What can you tell us about your EP “Bad For Me”? What’s the underlying concept?
The songs on 'Bad for Me' were inspired by a friendship of mine. There are a lot of complexities within our relationship and in recent years this friend and I have had quite a lot of ups and downs. I was finding that even in the worst situations, there was something about this person that I just couldn't let go. I guess I was holding on to versions of ourselves that didn't even exist anymore.
This kind of thing happens so often in relationships. We know someone is toxic for us but we want to feel the burn anyway. That's where the idea of 'Bad for Me' came about. I decided to twist my vulnerable situation into a story about this very thing. Why do we as humans want things that are bad for us? It's self-sabotage at it's finest.
Who in your life would you say has had a great effect on your music and your direction as an artist?
My dad is a songwriter and performer and growing up I got to watch him do his thing. I was always surrounded by music-- at church, at home, and at school-- but I wasn't really interested in music until 5th grade. I started playing the saxophone in 5th grade and joined a show choir that same year. That's when thing really changed for me. Show choir introduced me to musical theatre and quickly I fell head over heels in love with the music of Wicked, Wizard of Oz, Little Shop of Horrors, and more. My show choir director, Cheryl Boigegrain, believed in me when pretty much no one else did. She really set me on the path towards performing. I wanted to be on Broadway when I grew up. As I entered my teenage years, I started recording covers for Youtube. My parents got me a ukulele for Christmas in 2009 and that's when songwriting became a very natural progression for me. I wrote music about things any 16-year-old girl would write about...cheesy love songs about my first long term boyfriend!
Finding my 'sound' took a long time. I started a ukulele band with my high school best friend, Ariel McCleary, and we performed together for a good five years. I loved collaborating with her but there came a time when we entered college that it just felt natural to go our separate ways. I started writing more and more and playing live every chance I got. I released my debut solo album, Make Sound, in February of 2018 and that's when I began figuring out the direction I wanted to go. Make Sound is kind of a hodge-podge of all the things that influenced me as an artist from the time I started songwriting to the time of its release. It's a really diverse blend of genres and topics from so many parts of my life.
In 2018, I began playing live with a full band. Playing with a band taught me so much not only about collaboration, but about who I was as an artist. It gave me the opportunity to lead and really make these songs sound like me. With the release of Bad for Me in 2019, I feel like I've crafted a sound that is honest to me. I've always loved pop music and I know it gets a bad rap, but in my opinion there's NOTHING quite like a good pop song! I'm forever influenced by artists like Sara Bareilles and Emily King-- who can perfectly craft songs that are catchy (aka the pop 'hook') but are also flooded with honesty and vulnerability. There's a fine line you walk when you're making pop music but what these ladies do is what I hope to do. <3
What’s the bigger picture for you? What are your hopes for the future as an artist?
NEW MUSIC IS COMING! I will be releasing a string of singles in the fall that I am really excited about. I've been working with new producers and new musicians on these songs and it really feels like things are headed in the right direction.
My hope is to reach more people with each new song I release. I don't know where this life is going to take me, but I'm gonna continue writing about things that I feel and hope that other people can relate. That's why I do what I do, really. Human connection is a beautiful thing and I think music connects us in a way no other art form can. If I can make just one person feel something honest and real, I've done my job as an artist.
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