Olivia Lane’s Radiance Critical to Her Success as an Independent
Olivia Lane's energy knows no borders. She's Red Bull and coffee mixed with Sara Evans and Jennifer Nettles. When she sings, her big country voice demands that you pay attention, but it does so politely, promising sugar and sprinkles from behind a sweet smile.
Dig through her catalog. You won't find that big, heart-wrenching breakup song because it hasn't been written yet. Her current single "You Part 2" comes closest, but that's more of a "Get lost loser!" song than anything that resembles self-pity. How many women that run their own record label spend time wallowing in muddy misery?
“Like literally I tell people I don’t know what I would be like angry,” Lane tells Taste of Country near the end of a conversation at 2nd Ave. bar in Nashville. For 20 minutes she poured sunshine on everything from moving away from home at 16 to consultant Keith Hill's comments, a.k.a. #SaladGate.
“I think I got really angry at a boyfriend once and I blacked out, so I really don’t remember being angry," she says.
"It’s weird. My body rejects anger.”
Lane has been in Nashville two years, coming straight out of college and finding herself at a writing appointment on Day 1. She's a doer. Next summer she'll organize and host the third annual Diva Jam, an event that celebrates female country artists and songwriters. She says it was started on a whim in response to Bro Country, a style that doesn't offend her.
"I made a joke like 'Watch out Bro-Country, Diva Country is coming on the rise.' And then I was like ... maybe we should create an event called Diva Jam? A female empowerment kind of thing and do it every year at CMA Fest, and just literally put it all together, prayed and hoped that people would show up and they did."
Lane eagerly accepted an invite to make a guest appearance at a recent Song Suffragettes #LetTheGirlsPlay round. She wants to be part of the movement that changes Hill's rules on how many females can be played on the radio.
“The thing is, it’s not what he said because what he said is true," Lane says, sipping a glass of red wine. "It’s true, 100 percent true. But the fact is we need positivity. We need someone to say ‘Hey, rules are meant to be broken.’”
Lane's Heart Unlocked mixtape is a strong collection of empowering pop-country songs that rely on her soaring vocals and modern production. Ilya Toshinskiy produced the project, and it's clear from the songs released thus far (and others released elsewhere) that Lane has a clear vision of who she is as an artist. For this she credits college and her father. He's the businessman in the family, while her mom is the artist. Lane is releasing the entire album, one song at a time, for free through her website. Fans can keep up at her Facebook page.
Lane is an independent artist, and the president of her independant record label. She also runs her own publishing company, handles social media and hires help as needed. She's a one-stop-shop looking to build organically before potentially partnering with the right record label down the road. She makes it look kind of easy honestly, but that might just be the sunshine she's breathing. The Houston native admits she is endlessly positive, comparing her enthusiasm to that of a 4-year-old's.
Her theater background helps her tremendously, she says. She learned how to project on stage and in conversation, as well as how to engage an audience and how to amp up her personality on stage. She got a theater degree from University of Southern California after moving to Los Angeles at age 16 to finish high school. Mom came with, but she had to beg. There were PowerPoint presentations explaining why it was a good idea before her parents got on board. Dad would commute back and forth between L.A. and Houston.
“I think that theater really prepared me to really dive into who I am as a person and figure out … ‘What’s my story?’”
"Mama Raised Hell" tells part of her story. It's her most personal song, written about her parents and her childhood. It's also very reflective of the direction her music is headed in. No heartbreak or anger, but maybe a little bittersweetness. She told of the first time she played it for her parents.
“The lights, it was kind of bright so I couldn’t see their faces very well but I saw their eyes and I saw their eyes start to glisten over with tears and I was like ‘Oh my God. This is a horrible idea to play this for the first time.’ She was kind of speechless.”
Clouds could soon block her sunshine, something she realizes which makes this wonderful state of empowerment so much more satisfying. Lane was a guest artist for the Sept. 14, 2016 #LetTheGirlsPlay show at the Listening Room. Visit her official website to keep track of all her tour dates and for more information on Diva Jam.