Performing since she was five years old in Elk Point, now-Edmonton-based Olivia Rose can't wait to rock out on the the Together Again stage... preferably with no giant bugs
By Cory Schachtel | August 18, 2022
What is the first concert you played?
I’ve been performing since I was about five years old, so probably the first time I was ever on stage was most likely at a vocal recital. But the first actual performance that really stuck with me was when I won the Global Country contest in 2009 in Edmonton, and I got to perform in front of a full Winspear Centre with a full band, which was absolutely amazing.
My mom was with me backstage, and she was like a nervous wreck, but I remember not even being nervous to perform to a sold out Winspear Center, which is more people than live in my hometown. It was just exciting and I was so happy.
What is the first song you wrote?
It was a song called “15 Minutes,” and it was about telling a boy why he has 15 minutes to tell me why I should stay with him. And of course, me — at nine years old — I had tons of experience with love.
Was there a specific boy you were writing that about?
No, I think it was all based off TV shows and movies.
Is love and heartbreak a common topic for your songs?
Yeah, probably. Breakups are a theme that a lot of songwriters gravitate towards, because that’s such a strong emotion, and grief and sadness are emotions that many people can connect with very easily. So I definitely gravitate towards writing breakup songs. But I also love writing songs about finding new love, too.
Fill in the blanks: You wish you could write songs like BLANK, because BLANK.
Miranda Lambert or Taylor Swift, because they’re such incredibly storytellers. But I’m getting there!
What was the toughest guitar chord for you to learn?
I’m not the best at barre chords. I don’t know why, my wrist just isn’t strong enough. So I will play them but they’re not my favourite. They take a lot of practice.
Any advice on playing a B chord? It makes my dainty fingers feel weak.
Make sure you have a guitar that fits your hands because I can definitely play it on certain guitars, but other guitars are a lot bigger and a lot harder to play it on. And make sure that your strings are new, because if you have older strings, it makes it so much harder to press down. That also reminds me that the frets are starting to wear down on my guitar, and I need to replace them, because that does make it a little bit harder to get a good sound.
Yes! I have a Taylor 910 custom. Her name is Penny, and I bought her when I was 16 years old. My mom actually made me take out the money in cash, so that I could hand it over and see exactly how much I was paying for this beautiful guitar. It’s a custom guitar — I got it on consignment — with gorgeous mother of pearl inlay. It’s a very bright sounding guitar, and it’s absolutely gorgeous.
Did you perform much in bars before you were 18?
Well, actually, when I was growing up, Alberta had a law where underage musicians couldn’t play in bars, no matter what, even though it used to be that they could play as long as all they did was go on stage, backstage or be at a merch booth. But they changed that, so as a teenager performing country music, I felt very strongly about the fact that I should be able to perform in these bars. And so with my mom’s help, I wrote letters to my MLA pushing to change it.
Then, about a week before I turned 18, they invited me out to the Station On Jasper, for the signing of the new law saying teenagers could perform in bars again, and I got to shake hands with my MLA on the news as they signed it.
Did they at least name it the Olivia Rose law?
Haha, no, I was just happy that that I helped get it changed for the younger generation of musicians.
Your current single is “Truck Boi.” Is that anything like a “Sk8er Boi” or are you too young to get that reference?
First of all, Avril Lavigne is one of my favourite artists. But no, a truck boy is like… a fuck boy. They don’t care about anything but themselves and their trucks. They buy very fancy, very shiny, souped-up trucks — not to do any work in, just to pick up the ladies. And that’s really all their personality is: their truck. It’s all they want to talk about. They don’t really care about what you like, as long as you’re getting in their truck at the end of the night.
You’ll be performing outside for Together Again. Any funny moments on an outdoor stage?
Actually, just last week I was performing — luckily, it was just a solo performance — but as I was singing, I saw this huge-ass beetle flying towards me. And I thought that it would just fly away but it didn’t — it landed directly on my chest, mid-chorus. I screamed and hit it off me, then I got back on the mic and was like was like, I’m so sorry!
So, assuming there are no bug attacks, what can people expect from your show this weekend?
It’s definitely a mixture of upbeat and slower stuff. There will be some of their favourite covers with some of my original music. I like to think there’s a very nice arc. I really like to make my setlist have some really high energy at the beginning, down to a little bit more of a connect-with-the-audience, slower song in the middle, and it ends on a really great high energy note.