Burgeoning rock star Olivia Jean released her newest record this month, Raving Ghost. As of now, the noir performer is on a U.S. tour, gallivanting through cities like New York, Philadelphia and Boston.
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Jean, who is also known for her work in her previous band The Black Belles, creates music that rattles the chambers of your heart. Her titular single is below.
American Songwriter caught up with Jean to ask her about her career, her new music, working with her husband Jack White’s Third Man Records and more.
American Songwriter: When did you first find music and what impact did it make on you initially?
Olivia Jean: I bought my first guitar at an early age. I was listening to good music from the start, thanks to my parents allowing the kids to shuffle through their record collection. A couple of my first musical loves were The Cars and The B-52’s. As I grew, I became educated on the history of Detroit garage rock and I became enamored by its sound and attitude. I’m lucky to have grown as an artist surrounded by the Detroit music scene. The Detroit music scene I grew up with was very open-minded and experimental. When it comes to garage rock, Detroit pays homage to garage of the 1960s but adds its own twist and flavor. It’s an exciting scene.
AS: What was it about rock ‘n’ roll and surf rock that made you fall in love with it?
OJ: I can’t explain in words why my body and soul gravitate towards rock and surf. It simply moves and inspires me.
AS: What made you want to dive in and create music seriously, and professionally?
OJ: I’ve always taken music seriously. Regular life is boring. I have been writing little ditties since I was seven. I don’t know how I got “good at it,” I’m just doing what I love.
AS: You’re obviously close to Third Man Records, signed to it and married to its founder, Jack White. Can you speak about the label as a home for artists and what’s special about it to you?
OJ: Third Man is a label that puts art before business. They are supportive, they are family, they take every aspect of the art seriously. Even pressing their own records, having an in-house mastering studio, photography department, video department, graphic design department, etcetera. It’s incredible what Jack’s created. They follow a vision and allow their artist to follow theirs too. It’s a great label.
AS: What was the genesis of your new solo album, Raving Ghost?
OJ: The songs came to me without rhyme or reason. It was a natural flow. One thing I did try to incorporate into the process was making my songs a bit heavier because I tend to want to play heavier live. I don’t like when bands remodel their songs too much during a live set.
AS: Do you have a favorite moment on the album or from making it – something that surprised you or has especially stuck with you since?
OJ: I wrote the instrumentation on the record but having amazing session players bring their own style to the songs was magical. I’m not used to recording with session players because I tend to be very attached and controlling with my music. Putting my guard down and inviting others to bring the songs to life was a great experience. It opened my mind.
AS: How are you thinking about the future?
OJ: I’m taking life as it comes. Obviously there’s a lot of work that goes into this career. It’s not a nine to five job that you can clock out of, it’s a twenty-four-seven job. I am my own boss and if I’m not keeping the train rolling, no one else will. So I suppose there is some nerve-wracking moments—but I’m very grateful for this life.
AS: What do you love most about music?
Photo credit: Jada & David Parrish / Courtesy Big Hassle