“Temptation can be exciting and thrilling but can lead us to make destructive decisions with serious consequences,” says Olivia Penalva. With her new song “Ex’s,” co-written with and produced by Tavish Crowe (Carly Rae Jepsen) and Ryan Stewart, the Kelowna-based singer-songwriter takes on the role of narrator to impart a story ripe for a soap opera.
Tonight i’m kissing my ex-best friend’s ex-boyfriend, ex-boyfriend, sings Penalva. Tonight, you’ll both be saying my name like I’m to blame, and it’s a shame / Ex, ex, oh, I’m not sorry / Her text won’t, won’t stop me.
“[This] was such a fun song to write. It is about stealing something that does not belong to you,” Penalva tells American Songwriter. “In this case, it’s about taking your best friend’s boyfriend. Although I can not personally relate to it, I know so many people who have been in this situation. It sheds light on what it’s like to be the person hurting someone they care about while falling for someone they didn’t know they ever wanted.
“It is one of those special songs to me. It’s fun and unapologetic. Life can be hard and imperfect at times, and this song talks about what it’s like to make mistakes,” she adds. “I wrote this song to show that side of the person causing the pain rather than the person enduring it.”
Originally from Vernon, British Columbia, Penalva recently struck it big with her song “Love Me,” a bonafide streaming hit (nearing the one-million mark) and Top 20 radio hit. “Ex’s” serves as a stepping stone and prime example of her ability to tell real human stories through the gloss of pop music. It’s certainly a far cry from her country-flecked 2018 debut, Covers, but her hunger for songwriting remains the same. “I love songwriting for so many reasons. The fact that you can share your stories in a way to connect with listeners who can relate to them is an incredible feeling ─ to be able to make someone feel heard and understood. I love the people I get to connect with while writing. I’ve made so many great relationships. Music brings people together and I find that so amazing.
“The best writing advice I was ever given was to just throw all your ideas out there. Be venerable and open. There are no bad ideas,” she adds. “You just have to get it all out there, and once it’s out, you can clean up and make something amazing. You can’t be afraid to take risks; sometimes it’s necessary in order to create something beautiful.”