Olivia Hellman talks “Spoiler Alert” and starting her next chapter in the ‘real world’

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Credit: Sara Bouwman

Last summer, rising singer-songwriter Olivia Hellman unleashed her debut single, “Mr. Ego Boy.” Its witty lyrics and anthemic energy made it a compelling listen, and its music video is just as engaging – so much so that it has reached over 200K views. Since then, Olivia has gone on to drop more singles that show other sides of her artistry. Earlier this year, she gave us “Prove It!” an edgier rock-leaning track that warned listeners not to underestimate her. In March, she followed up the release with “Girl Friend,” a more stripped-back single that found Olivia in a vulnerable place. As she graduates from NYU Tisch, Olivia is ready to begin the next phase of her life and career. We caught up with her during this exciting time, finding out more about her new single and how she plans to begin this new chapter.

Hi, Olivia! How are you doing?
I’m good, it’s been a really busy week. It was my decision to release a song the same week I’m graduating, which is a little crazy, but I think it’s worth it.

It’s crazy because the last time we spoke, you were starting your last year of college, and now it’s over. What were some highlights of your senior year?
I feel like my junior year of college, I was having a hard time finding a balance between working on my music and doing school because I’m a drama major and it’s very time consuming and it’s very exhausting, but so is making music and finding time to go into the studio and all of that stuff. I think I was really glad that this semester, even though I’ve still been working on music, I’ve been able to focus more on my work at school just because it was my last year and I really wanted to make it count. I still found time to do music, it was just more of like I wanted to enjoy my last year of college as much as I could.

Are there any words of advice or words of wisdom that you got from your whole experience in college that you’re going to take with you going into the future?
I think this next year, transitioning from not being in school anymore to being in the quote unquote real world is going to be a challenge and very new to me. I think the biggest advice I’ve gotten is, ‘Give yourself grace,’ especially because I put a lot of pressure on myself and I am a hard worker. If I’m not working or if I’m just taking a break, I’m very hard on myself because I’m like, ‘Well I should be doing something, I should be more productive right now.’ But I think the biggest advice I’ve gotten is just to give yourself grace because you’ve been through four years of really exhausting training, and now is the time where you kind of have to get your life in order. I think I’m gonna allow myself to be more kind to myself this next year. Obviously still working hard, but not being so stressed out all the time.

And you’re still working hard because you do have a new single coming out! So, listening to “Spoiler Alert,” it kind of fits right in the middle of “Prove It!” And “Girl Friend” where it’s not as high energy as “Prove It!” but not as mellow as “Girl Friend.”
Yeah, some people have said it sounds a little country just because I am a big Taylor Swift fan. She influences me a lot. So, I can totally see where there’s hints of that. I would not call myself a country artist and I wouldn’t call this a country song, but I can see elements of that there just with the storytelling, which I think is a lot different than my more rockier songs.

Credit: Sara Bouwman

I was wondering what your creative process is because with your singles so far, they all sound different but they all showcase your versatility. I wasn’t sure if you write them all at the same time or if you space them out and write them as they come.
Yeah, it’s kind of just as they come. With “Spoiler Alert,” it really was just like spur-of-the-moment. I have a notes app on my phone, as I’m sure most writers and songwriters do, where every time they get an idea, they just write it down. It’s just like a whole word vomit of a bunch of different quotes and stuff I’ve heard. But with “Spoiler Alert,” I didn’t get the influence for it as some people would probably think. It wasn’t like I had a heartbreak and this, this, and this. It was literally like my dad and I, we were talking about a movie that he had just watched, and he was telling me the plot of it. He told me the end and I was like, ‘Woah, spoiler alert!’ and he was like, ‘Hey, that’s a cool name for a song!’

The whole idea was like… So, “The Story Of Us” by Taylor Swift is one of my favorites of her songs just because I love the element of the storybook and the next chapter and the end. I was like, ‘What if I did that but with a movie?’ [My dad] had given me this idea for “Spoiler Alert,” and I was like, ‘That’s the perfect kind of genre, this movie-themed song,’ so I have to thank my dad for that.

So, did this all come quickly to you or did it take a while to get “Spoiler Alert” together?
Honestly, this one, the words kind of just flew out. I also, especially this song, I had to cut it down because I had so many verses and so many extra little moments I wanted to have in it, but I had to eventually cut them because it would have been a really long song. So, I think with this one, I was just so inspired with the theme. I like when my songs have a theme because sometimes, if they don’t, then I kind of get lost in the artistry of it. With this, it’s clear, it’s based on the world of film and movies. And also, having that kind of early 2000s rom-com kind of playlist in my head to influence the sound of it as well… This one really just came easy to me.

With the parts that were cut out of the song, do you ever hold onto things that you cut and recycle them into new songs?
I think it really depends. For “Spoiler Alert,” I probably won’t because it’s so specific to the movie theme. But I do sometimes have metaphors or just very poetic lyrics that I’m like, ‘Oh, maybe it’s not right for this song but because I love it so much, I’ll find something for it one day.’

What do you want fans to take from “Spoiler Alert” when they listen to it?
Because I’m SUCH a lyrics person first, I just love when songs paint the picture and really tell the story. I really want my fans to be able to listen to this song and picture their movie being played out and picture their own stories and be able to relate to the story in it and just feel like they’re in a movie. When I now listen to it, I just feel like this is the soundtrack to my movie, and I want people to relate to that.

 

 

Yeah, it is very visual. With your songs so far, you’ve had some strong music videos that go along with them and enhance what you hear, so are you planning on releasing a video for this one?
This one is probably one of my favorite video shoots I’ve had so far. It took a while to really hone what we were doing because I originally wanted to recreate clips from famous rom-coms like Ariana Grande did in “thank u, next,” like I wanted to do something similar to that but with Pretty Woman and She’s All That, just kind of movies in those genres. I think thematically, it just ultimately didn’t end up working out, but honestly, I’m so fine with that. So, the actual concept for this video came when I was watching the new season of Black Mirror. I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but the first episode is called “Joan Is Awful,” and it’s basically about this woman who is watching the events of her day being unfolded on a streaming service, and Salma Hayek is playing her. So, she’s like watching her life on screen and it’s very creepy and she doesn’t know how this happening. So, that was how the concept for the “Spoiler Alert” video came. I was like, ‘Well what if we basically take that concept but it’s me and I kind of know that this is happening, but it’s me using it as a way to dump my boyfriend?’

I’m from San Francisco, and we were so fortunate to film this in the Bay Area in Oakland, California. There’s a very beautiful old movie theater called the Grand Lake Theater in Oakland, and it’s very historic. The owner of it has a bunch of older movie theaters that he owns, but a lot of them closed down because of the pandemic. Luckily, this one stayed open. It’s so beautiful and massive, and we were lucky enough to film in there, which just made my dreams come true because it was like this is my song coming to life. We got to film after hours for it, so from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., we were just running around an empty movie theater. They gave us free popcorn to eat in the shoot. It was like the best experience ever. So, I am really, really passionate about this video. I’m really excited for it!

The last time we talked, you were working on your debut EP. How is that coming along?
So I’ve kind of pivoted just because I feel like back when I was first releasing “Mr. Ego Boy,” I was still kind of getting a sense of how I wanted my music career to move forward. And because I’m still kind of in the early stages and I’m really enjoying making singles and filming music videos, I want to continue to keep making music videos and singles. I feel like all of my songs are so different in style, so I think that each of them deserve their own spotlight and their own special era.

Aside from “Spoiler Alert,” and the rest of the singles this year, what are fans gonna hear next from you?
Honestly, my next few are a little bit darker. I feel like I kinda switched that up with “Girl Friend” just because I’ve been releasing so many upbeat poppy songs, but at the end of the day, I’m also a very emotional person. I love to sing ballads and I love to write ballads, especially because I think they show a whole different side of me that my other songs don’t really show. So, I’m really looking forward to at least the next two that I have being a little darker and a little bit more emotional. A little along the lines of “Girl Friend,” but also a little different as well.

That was mostly everything that I had. Do you have anything else you want to add, any comments?
I don’t think so! I’m just so excited about this new song.
Yeah, it’s coming at a good time. It’s like a good way to celebrate graduating.
It really is. It’s kind of like a full circle moment, just because I’m celebrating such a monumental moment in my life. It’s also a way for me to open up the next chapter, even though I have been working on music throughout my time in college. Releasing a song on the day I graduate is kind of like, ‘Oh this is what’s happening next for me,’ and it’s kind of just a way to show that I’m continuing to move forward and continuing my artistic journey.

Credit: Sara Bouwman

You can listen to “Spoiler Alert” on platforms like Spotify and Apple Music.

Keep up with Olivia Hellman: Instagram // YouTube // TikTok // Website

Christine Sloman
Christine Slomanhttps://linktr.ee/christine.sloman
Writer for Melodic Mag since 2018. Music lover since always.

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