The other day, someone asked if I had checked out Olivia’s new single. Instead of “vampire” by Olivia Rodrigo, I thought of “Mr. Ego Boy” by Olivia Hellman. In either scenario, I can answer in the affirmative. As far as which I like more, however, I would have to go with the latter. Both tracks have a similar vibe surrounding someone who can drain the life out of you, but whether it’s the sassy lyrics or Olivia Hellman’s playful pop-rock attitude, “Mr. Ego Boy” has a phenomenal energy from start to finish. It also piques your curiosity about the rising singer-songwriter. She may have just turned 21, but Olivia knows what she is doing and is well-aware of all that lies ahead. A certified triple-threat, as seen in the “Mr. Ego Boy” music video, she has what it takes to shake up the music industry, and we are honored to come along for the ride. I recently caught up with Olivia to chat about the fiery debut single, the inspiration behind its music video, and what more we can expect from her in the future – egotistical monsters and all.
Hey Olivia, it’s nice to meet you. Thanks for taking the time out to do this. You just released your debut single, “Mr. Ego Boy.” I read that it was two years in the making, so how does it feel now that the song is out in the world?
A lot of my songs I’ve kept tucked under my belt for all these years until I actually had the opportunity to share them with people. Being able to release my own written work is a little scary at first – I was definitely scared of being a little vulnerable with people. But I knew that it was time, and I was ready to share it because I think back when I wrote them, I didn’t have the confidence yet to do so. But now, I think I’m at a right place in my life where I’m ready to share these with other people.
There’s a lot of good lines in the single, so are there any in particular that are your favorite?
My favorite is definitely the “self-absorbed conceited man-slut” line because that was a line where I just didn’t even think – I kind of just wrote it down, and then I looked at it and I was like, “Wait can I say this? Is this wrong?” But then I was like, “You know what, no, I’m just gonna go for it.” So, I just left it there, and it kind of just stayed. And I like the ring that it has to it.
So, because the lyrics are more specific like that, I’m assuming you wrote it about a certain someone or someone you knew? If so, are you now over that person?
Yes and no. I definitely pulled from different influences, and because I’m a theater kid as well, I’d like to say I just pulled from theater guys I’ve interacted with or that I have dated or that some of my friends have dated and I’ve witnessed. I kind of just took all these tropes and these different characteristics that I thought really made them an ego boy and made this façade of who Mr. Ego Boy was from these different influences. But my experience with boys, I’ve grown from that. I think I am over who the Mr. Ego Boy is that I’ve created.
In the music video, you can kind of see the different types of ego boys in there, so do you know if the guys had a good time portraying that character?
Yeah, I think it was something different for them because I think a lot of them just do normal modeling. So going into it, they were totally on board and totally into it. Even when we would do scenes together and I would interact with them, I’d be like, “Can I grab your face or grab your arm right here?” And they’d be like, “Totally, do whatever you want.” I think the great thing was working with our director, Paul Boyd. It wasn’t a video about me; [the guys] were featured as well, and [Paul] gave them the opportunity to shine. And from there, they had their own little solo shots where they were able to show their own personalities and do their own thing, which is really cool. And I think at the end of the day, we all had a lot of fun. [Laughs]
There’s a few similarities between that video and the “Blurred Lines” music video. How did the idea come about to pull from that?
So, Paul Boyd did a music video with Shania Twain – “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” It was basically the same thing that he did with me with “Blurred Lines;” he took Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love” video and switched the gender roles, so it was like he was doing the same concept with me however many years later. I think that that was his first instinct when doing the video. When he first listened to the song, he was like, “I immediately thought of “Blurred Lines”.” And at the beginning, I was a little skeptical because I know that there’s so much controversy around “Blurred Lines,” and I wasn’t sure if people would appreciate that or if I would get a lot of flak for that. But at the end of the day, I ended up being on board with Paul’s vision because he was like, “You’re not going to be sexualizing the guys, it’s gonna be you owning your power, and it’s gonna be a feminist reinterpretation.” So, that really set me into the idea.
And I mean the video, no matter what you do, some people are gonna love it, some people are gonna hate it, and it’s definitely been hard to see that there is still a little negative energy towards it. But I knew that going into the video, and I wanted to take that risk. But it’s really funny to see all of the hate comments are coming from straight men whose egos are hurt. I was talking about it with my friends, and it’s kind of similar to Barbie and how a lot of men think that Barbie is anti-women when it’s really just anti-patriarchy. In no way in the video or in the song am I trying to say that I hate men, men suck. I just want to take back my power, and I think it’s interesting that when a woman is doing this, she gets more hate. With “Blurred Lines,” even though there was some controversy, at the end of the day, it is an iconic video and people love it, but then it’s interesting to see that when a woman is doing it, she’s put more in the spot and is kind of torn down for it. It’s interesting to see both sides.
Going forward, I heard that you are working on your debut album…?
It’s an EP.
Oh, it’s an EP! Okay! Cool, so is there a theme for that EP, or are the songs a little different from this single?
Yeah! I think what I love about my EP is that there are no two songs that sound the same. And I like that I have the opportunity to be able to play into different genres. Some of them have influences of country, some are more rock, some have a little bit of EDM, reggae… I get to pull from all these different styles and kind of make this whole mosh pit of the perfect song that I want to release. So yeah, every single song is different. Every single song tells a different story, which is what I love so much about it.
Do you have any more singles coming out this year or in the near future before the EP?
Yeah, I did a cover of “Babooshka” back in October, and I have some more covers that I’m planning on releasing aside from the EP, as well as releasing more singles until the eventual release of the EP. I just want to keep getting my music out there, keep sharing it with people.
Along those lines of sharing your music, you have an event coming up – Sad Girl Hours on August 24 at 3 Dollar Bill. It’s such a great name, it sets us up for Sad Girl Autumn… What can people expect when they go to it?
Yeah, a lot of the songs are gonna be on my EP. So, I’m really excited to share those as well as “Mr. Ego Boy.” But yeah, the event I’m really excited for just because of the whole idea behind it. It’s an all women line up, and especially going into “Mr. Ego Boy” and this feminist anthem, I’m really excited to share that with people and share the stage with Rozzi and rlyblonde. It’s a really great opportunity, and this is my first time playing “Mr. Ego Boy” live since the release, so that’s gonna be really fun.
Hopefully people will be singing along, and they’ll be really familiar with it. Would this event help you conceptualize what a tour may look like in the future?
Yeah, hopefully in the future. I’m still in school; I’m gonna be a senior in college, so it’s gonna take a little time. But I do want to keep continuing to play locally in New York and even more in the Tri-state area. I’m originally from California, so I’d love to do some stuff in California as well. Only time will tell. [Laughs]
You can listen to “Mr. Ego Boy” on platforms like Apple Music, Spotify, and SoundCloud.
Find out more about Sad Girl Hours here.