We Had An Awesome Chat With Olympia’s Oh, Rose

Oh, Rose are a band born in the awesome, influential music city of Olympia, and together they make music that gives you the goosebumps. Olivia, Liam and Sarah chatted with us, while Kevin was taking a nap. Between goofing around and sharing their thoughts about their debut album Seven, the band let us know a little bit more about themselves and the essence of their band.

You are currently on your album release summer tour. How is it going?
Liam: Yeah, we are now taking a few days off in San Francisco, in the Bay Area.
Olivia: Yeah, we’re staying in Oakland and San Francisco. We played a show last night in a place called Hemlock Tavern and stayed up until 5 in the morning, so it’s pretty nice not having a show tonight because we’re tired. Our bass player, Kevin, is basically sleeping right now. [laughs]

Let’s talk a little bit about you guys. How did you get together?
Olivia: We’ve been friends for the past three years from living in Olympia, but we started playing music together about a year ago. It started with me and Liam playing and recording the EP and then we planned a two month tour last summer. I got Kevin to come playing bass with us and Sarah started to play synth and jumped on. This is kind of how it evolved.
Liam: It evolved really fast because we started the band and then a few months later we were on a two month tour, so we kind of had to get all of our stuff figured out pretty quick.
Sarah: Kevin, Liam and I had only been in one or two shows by the time we left for the tour, so there was a lot of getting to know each other and getting the feel of what our dynamic was like emotion on the road every night, and getting to know each other really well also. It was super organic.

Are you all from Olympia?
Olivia: Sarah and I are both from Nashville, North Carolina.
Liam: And I’m from a small town in Washington called White Salmon. Kevin is from New York. We all met in Olympia and we all live there now, but we’re all from different places.

What did lead you guys to go to Olympia in the first place?
Liam: I went to Olympia to go to college at Evergreen.
Sarah: Me too!
Olivia: I wanted to leave North Carolina and I’ve been travelling around the U.S. for a few months. I visited Olympia before and I was just ready to settle down somewhere and I made some good connections. Sarah had a room opened at her house and so I moved in with her. Just travelling and stuff… And then Kevin also was just travelling like a road trip and ended up in Olympia too, but he’s in school and he’s gonna take some time off. They both just graduated.

How is it like to live in a city with such an influential music scene like Olympia’s?
Sarah: It’s pretty awesome!
Kevin: It’s really awesome! The music scene in Olympia is really diverse and really thriving kind of in the underground. It’s exciting to be part of a scene that has so many different kinds of bands that are really good and really different from each other, and for the most part super supportive of everyone. Like everyone is just stoked that so many people are playing music that it doesn’t even matter what kind of music it is. People are just excited to go see the bands and support them.
Olivia: It’s really cool. It’s like a great place to live and that’s a really small, but it’s right between Seattle and Portland. It’s really close to other cities, but it doesn’t feel like a small town and a really tighten community.

Which bands were a major influence in shaping your music?
Liam: We all come from pretty different backgrounds musically, I think. Each of us have probably a pretty huge list of inspirations and music that really moves us. I think we’re all audio heads.
Olivia: But it’s cool because Liam and Kevin, even in our recording process, they listen to music and play music like they know what they’re playing, like the chords or whatever. It’s interesting for practicing because me and Sarah really just go off with a feeling, but we just don’t really know what we’re doing a lot of the time… But it’s an interesting way of communication between the males and females and the band, because we’re like learning from one another. I’m like “I don’t know, what am I playing? What’s this chord right now?” and they’re like “It’s bla bla bla.” [laughs]
Liam: I think we’re all like doing a really good job, although of figuring out how to communicate when we all kind of have different vocabularies when it comes to
writing music together. Practice isn’t always easy because of that, but I think we’re really doing a good job communicating and staying calm. We always get to where we wanna be with the music.
Olivia: When I listen to music, I listen for vocals. I listen to anyone who has a voice and makes my hair stand up because that’s probably my biggest influence.


“… the lyrics are about the idea of being a phoenix in a way but being kind of pushed into fire but coming back.”

Since you mentioned that, your voice is really unique and strong. How do you find the perfect melody to fit in your voice for the songs?
Olivia: The perfect melody… I think it just feeling-based, just a mood or something and words kind of come up… It might be something that someone said to me and create some idea of a mood or maybe an image. For example, right before we left for tour we were playing a song together and we’re gonna work on it when we come back, but the lyrics are about the idea of being a phoenix in a way but being kind of pushed into fire but coming back. I like to write songs about pain, but like resurrection, so it’s like feeling confident and feeling intense about a certain feeling or situation or scenario…
Liam: I would say that a lot of your vocal melodies are very emotionally-driven.
Olivia: Yeah, definitely!
Sarah: It’s important to not to take act on it like when you feel like it. I found Olivia in a bathroom at a bar singing and just recording it. She was just following that urge when it comes.
Olivia: Anywhere that I can. When I get a little melody in my head, I’m just like “Oh! I need to record this on my phone or something!” The song “Seven” came about in two different bathrooms: one was in a small apartment in New York City last summer and that’s when I got the lyrics stuck in my head and there’s a recording of me singing on that bathroom; the other recording was six months later of me finding that singing in a bathroom and I kind of got back to it and realizing it.

“Seven” is probably the most intense and heavy song on your debut record. What more can you tell me about that song?
Sarah: That song came up really organically in practice. Sometimes we’re writing a song and have trouble working through it. I remember the first time we played that and all of it just came together super well. We all knew exactly what we were gonna play. There have been a couple of songs like that and yet it all just melt together, like super fluidly.
Olivia: And performing that song is always the most intense song for me to perform, because I just feel like it’s the fullest spectrum of the emotion. All I’m saying in the song is “It’s been a lot of standing up, but I’ve been down before” and I think it’s just in my past and where I’ve come from it becomes like a mantra of overcome struggle and feeling empowered, you know, get back up. That’s pretty much all that is. In order to heal from something, you have to constantly revisit it and that can be really frustrating and I think that’s what the song tries to convey, especially at the end where it’s just like screaming because it’s this sense of release and letting go, but being so angry that it happened all of it… Being angry because you have to feel it again or feel it for the last time ever. Just feelings. [laughs]

Your album is called Seven, it has seven songs and its cover has seven roses. What’s the meaning behind the number seven?
Sarah: When we talked about what we should call that song [“Seven”] we tossed around a couple of different ideas. It wasn’t originally called “Seven” for a while, usually we called the new song until we thought of a name and then it had a couple of different names, and then Seven came up… Olivia and I were outside talking and she was like “Maybe we should call it ‘Seven’” and we talked about how it would never be the number 7, it will always be written as if seven were a word that could stand alone and in this context removed from a numeric association, like out of the context of numbers… Just seven as a word. If numbers are words, what does this word mean?
Olivia: I think with that song – titling that song – it does stand alone, but also I think the whole album in general, and that’s why I knew the album was going to be called Seven. It couldn’t be anything else, and then we had seven songs and those were the songs that we’ve been playing together and learning as a band over the past year. The EP was pretty much “pre-ohrose” and Seven is how we came to know one another as musicians and no more no less. We didn’t need any more songs, because each one of those songs can stand alone and together they make an awesome album that we’re all really proud of.

Seven was recorded between the winter of 2014 and spring 2015. How was that process for you guys?
Liam: Kevin has been putting together a studio and this album is the first thing that we recorded there. Basically, we just have a garage and our backyard with a bunch of sound treatment and we recorded all the instrumentation together in January and February.
Olivia: It’s just like a project and it was fun.
Liam: Kevin and I are getting really excited about putting together the studio, because both he and I are engineers and we record music outside playing music, so we decided we wanted this album to be the first thing we recorded there.
Olivia: It’s like having our hands all over it.
Sarah: We had done some vocals, but then my parents came in to tell that they rented this place. We were staying in this really old house near downtown and we ended up redoing all the vocals in the staircase of that house.
Liam: It had a beautiful decoration.
Olivia: It was in the middle of the day and we were just having fun. I was just alone in this staircase and they had run all these cables down to the living room in order to record, so that was really cool. Oh! The reason we thought that we should record the vocals in the studio was because there was this weird frequency that was like “Kchhhh” on the song “Seven” and we were like “Maybe it’s this room, like the way that you’re singing it doesn’t work.” And then we recorded in the stairwell and it kept happening. We realized that it was this weird sound that I was doing with my mouth…
Liam: Yeah, it was something in her voice that was like vibrating in this way that made that really strange noise. [all laugh] But, with anything, it helped her growl. [laughs]


“We didn’t need any more songs, because each one of those songs can stand alone and together they make an awesome album that we’re all really proud of.”

What’s next for Oh, Rose in 2015? Any plans to tour in Europe anytime soon?
Liam: Sure! [laughs]
Sarah: I really daydream about going on a European tour. That would be so insane! [laughs]
Olivia: That’s other thing, at this point we’ve done everything ourselves. We booked this tour ourselves with help from people, networking and stuff. We’re using our own money until we fund it and get to place to place. We’re not attached to a label or anything like that and I think for the next year it will still be just constantly playing shows, making more connections and writing new material. I would definitely like in the next year release another album. We already have a bunch of songs in the works that I’m so excited to go back home and start working on them, because they’re gonna be great.

What do you guys like to do besides making music?
Sarah: We love karaoke!
Olivia: And bowling!
Sarah: We love swimming and get a sun tan. [all laugh]
Liam: We definitely love swimming.
Sarah: We like pizza. [laughs]
Olivia: We just like to have fun and pretty much just be total weirdos with our friends. Just laughing.
Liam: Yeah, I think one of the most important things about this band for me is that before we were a band we were all best friends and I feel really lucky to start a band with my best friends. It feels so good.
Sarah: Before this interview, we were all just laying on the bed like passing our phones around and talking about people we knew from high school and just goofing off. [laughs]
Liam: Right after this interview, we’re going back to do that. [all laugh]
Olivia: Yeah, I’m excited to back lay down. [laughs]

Words by Andreia Alves
You can also read the interview here:

No Comments Yet

Comments are closed