Olivia King just released her new single and visual for “20 Something,” and we’re in love! Hailing from Rhode Island, the pop/soul singer-songwriter has been doing music for four years now, making the conscious decision to go full-on indie in 2017 with the release of “In My Head”—and she’s been going strong ever since.
Here to take the throne in all facets of the music industry, Olivia is the definition of your sweet girl-next-door, with an undeniable charm and hypnotizing vocals. A true definition of a 20-year-old if there ever was one, she sings about real-life experiences and events, allowing listeners into her mind as she navigates this thing called life.
Following the release of her 2019 debut project D.I.Y., Olivia continues to grind independently, priding herself in creative control over her music, visuals, and all content. Flaunt caught up with Olivia via Zoom, who was in high spirits as she approached her wedding date with her fiancé. Read below as we discuss her mom’s influence on her soul sound, love for Lauryn Hill, her independent journey, what inspired “20 Something, celebrating her 27th birthday in Covid, studio essentials, her ex hitting her after hearing “Wasted Time,” her fashion inspired by the early 2000’s, and more!
How would you describe your sound?
My sound is definitely pop, with a sprinkle of soul. Ever since I was little, I was always drawn to R&B/soul music. My audience is that young girl audience, so I always want to cater to them with the pop stuff but staying true to myself. I need to always sprinkle in that soul sound.
You’re from Rhode Island, how does that play into your life and career?
My household is very sports-oriented. I was just telling David Duane [her publicist] my brother plays on the Yankees so that’s where we spent our Easter: in the Yankee stadium. [laughs] My household was always very sports-oriented, but my parents were always super supportive with my music career. It was never like, “Oh, we’re all about sports here.” They’re always super supportive. My mom was always playing soulful music in the house, that’s where I found my love for it. She played Lauryn Hill, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, those were the staple songs and artists in my house. Even at Christmas, she wouldn’t just play Christmas music. It’d be Soulful R&B Christmas Music, this Pandora station that she had on. She’s the reason I fell in love with that music.
Fondest memories with your mom when it comes to music?
Whenever I was looking for songs to perform at talent shows, or at school and school functions, anything when I was little, she’s always on Youtube trying to find the best songs for me to sing. She always came across soul artists. The first ones she introduced me to were Lauryn Hill and Joss Stone, those were two that stuck out to me. I’ve really stayed true to both of those artists’ styles. My tone is very similar to Joss Stone, and Lauryn Hill has such a cool swag about her. I saw her in concert with my mom actually, I took her. It was a full-circle moment. She introduced me to Lauryn Hill, then I took her for her birthday or Mother’s Day to a Lauryn Hill concert. She’s the epitome of cool. She stands there at the mic: she doesn’t have to dance, she doesn’t have to do anything, she’s amazingly cool. Lauryn Hill’s definitely my icon that I look up to.
At what point did you realize this music thing was forreal?
2017, I got burned in a bad deal. I was always chasing after the major label deals, even indie label deals. I was always interested in label deals. To me, independent had a bad ring to it. Ever since I was little, it was like “ah, I don’t want to be indie. Indie? Ugh, I want to be a major label artist.” In 2017 when I got burned in a deal and it didn’t go through, I said, “You know what? Let me stop waiting on other people and try to give this a good run on my own.” Me and my now-fiancé in our house, we had a whole wall of sticky notes of marketing ideas. Every time, we came up with a new marketing idea, we’d stick it on the wall.
We implemented every single one of those strategies for my first single, and it got over 500K streams. Alright, I think we can do this. It was the two of us, we wouldn’t go out on the weekends. We’d sit on the couch together and look up who curated Spotify playlists, find them on Facebook and message them. It was a lot of detective work, a lot of hustling, but that’s what it takes when you’re independent. I’ve seen that being independent is no longer a bad thing. People are looking at independent as a really cool thing now. I saw people like Chance the Rapper do it. “Wow this can be done, and this can be done well and successfully? Let me give this a try.” 2017, I gave that a real go and here I am.
Is Olivia King your real name?
It is. Until I get married, then it’ll be a little different. I think I’m going to switch my middle name to King. I love my real name, and people ask me, “Is your real last name King?” It is, so it’s nice I still get to have my artist name and I can still be my name. My official name will be my married name once I tie the knot.
What were you going through recording “20 Something”?
I wrote “20 Something” right before getting engaged. All of my friends were either engaged, married, pregnant… I guess that’s what you’re getting in your 20’s. That’s where we are. On Facebook, every post I saw: “oh, I’m engaged! Oh, I’m pregnant! Oh, I just got married!” It gets to you sometimes. Ah damn, should I be there? Should I be doing this? Not that I was comparing myself to others, but it’s hard not to sometimes. Even career-wise, ah dang I’m getting into my later 20’s. Am I where I should be? I’ve always been harder on myself, obviously the hardest person on yourself is always yourself.
When I wrote “20 Something,” one of the lines in the chorus is “let me have my moment.” There’s two meanings to that line. It let me have my moment in my misery of feeling like “oh god, I’m in my 20’s and I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.” It’s also “let me have my moment, I’m in my 20’s. Let me thrive, let me live. Let me do my thing.” I’m going back and forth in that song with myself. I’m hard on myself, but also I should be living and enjoying the moment in my 20’s. I wanted that song to be for anyone in their 20’s to listen to and understand that I’m right there with you. I understand what it feels like to put the pressure on yourself and feel the pressures of the world in that decade, and you have to let that go. I put so much pressure on my age ever since I was little because of the industry I’m in, they put such a heavy weight on being young. I’ve tried to learn to let go of that and be trying to do my best at whatever age I’m at. It was very freeing to write that song. That’s one of the ones I’m most proud of writing.
How was it celebrating your 27th birthday?
It was interesting because that’s the COVID birthday for me. You can see in the lyric video, I’ve put together the highlights of my 20’s. My family came and did a little drive-by birthday celebration for me, playing 50 Cent’s “In The Club.” “Go shawty, it’s your birthday!” They’re bumping that song, driving right into my cul-de-sac, condo, complex, whatever this is here. [laughs] I wasn’t expecting to have an amazing 27th birthday with it being during COVID, but honestly it’s one of the best birthdays I’ve had. It was with my family from a distance, they made it special even during a pandemic.
How has the pandemic affected you?
I have a lot of artist friends — whether they’re producers, songwriters, whatever — say, “Hey, I need a break. I’m not in a space mentally to really create right now. I need to take a few weeks, few months off.” I said “yeah, totally understand.” With me, it was a time that I knew I wasn’t going to have again to be forced to be at home. I’m fortunate enough to have a home studio. I already had a whole home setup, so I was able to crank out as much music as possible. Music is therapy to me, so it felt therapeutic to write about my anxiety during the pandemic. Whenever I was feeling stressed, I’d literally come right down to my studio and bang out some new songs.
3 things you need in the studio?
I definitely need water. This might be a weird one but one thing that helps with recording-- someone gave it to me in the studio one time: original Lays potato chips. They’re super greasy so when your throat gets dry from singing, it coats your throat. That’s actually a good thing. Grapes are also a good thing to record with. Those 3 things are strange, but they’re essentials for recording.
One thing you want fans to get from your debut project, D.I.Y.?
That you can do it yourself. I always wanted my debut album to be called D.I.Y. because when I went independent, I realized I could do damn near everything myself. From creating the cover art myself to doing the production myself, I literally taught myself how to do everything on my own so that I didn’t have to rely on anyone anymore. I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad way to be, but it helped me move along quicker than waiting around for other people. It’s important to know how to do things on your own.
Who or what inspired “Wasted Time”?
Hmm, an old boyfriend. [laughs] People always ask me if my fiancé asks who songs are about, or if he feels any sort of way when I write about past relationships. Honestly, he’s never said anything. Definitely very secure in our relationship, which is good. This was about an old relationship back in high school. He left for college, I thought he was the one. I was so smitten, [he] left for college and ditched me. I thought everything was good. He was only going to college 20 minutes down the road, and poof! He was gone.
I didn’t hear from him for a month. I couldn’t get in touch with him, his mom couldn’t even get in touch with him. Is he even alive? Oh my god, was he using me for a summer fling? Was this a complete waste of my time? Sometimes when you’ve been in such a healthy relationship, he doesn’t give me much content so I have to go back to old relationships and tap into those feelings. So “Wasted Time” was about a relationship 10 years ago, which is crazy to say.
That’s super relatable though.
I put up an Instagram Reel about the song, and he DM'd me about it. I was so caught off guard, we hadn’t talked in 10 years. He for the first time apologized and said “I’m so sorry that I was childish.” I didn’t even know he looked at my Instagram or watched my stuff, listened to my music. I was so caught off guard, but it was honestly nice to have that apology. 10 years later or not, it’s cool how music can do that.
How would you describe your fashion sense?
Girly swag. I’ve always been super girly. When the whole early 2000’s came back around last year, I hopped on that train kind of early. I’m sure you can tell, even by my hairstyle right now, it’s very early 2000’s. I was obsessed with that era, with the butterfly clips and everything like that. I take bits and pieces from early 2000’s fashion right now, put a little bit of modern-day swag with the chain. Still make it girly, but have a little bit of street style in there still.
What can we look forward to next? What’re you most excited for?
I’m excited for the world to open up. Since I’ve grown my following on social media, I haven’t done live shows. I’m really excited to finally be able to meet all these people that I’ve seen on my Instagram livestreams. I try to go live on my Instagram everyday for at least an hour. I started doing that in November. When I got off of my first livestream, I gained all these followers. I told my fiancé that and he said “Liv if you don’t livestream everyday, you’re an idiot.” I said “Yeah you’re probably right.” I’ve been livestreaming everyday for an hour since November, and it’s really helped me grow my following. It helps me gain the superfans because they see what I’m doing everyday, whether it’s creating music, folding my laundry, cooking my dinner. It’s me living, and they like to see that. It helps me connect with them on a more personal level.
I’m excited to maybe be able to meet some of those people that I’ve connected with online. I have so much music coming out this year. My next couple releases, I have a trifecta of covers coming out that are all early 2000’s music. It goes with my style I’ve been going with. I have a Britney Spears song, a Destiny’s Child song, and a Justin Timberlake cover. They’re all piano versions, and they’re all being released on Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, all that jazz. I’m excited for those. I’ve never released official covers before, I’m excited. I have a bunch of originals coming up. I’m trying to release at least one song per month for the rest of the year.
Anything else you’d like to let us know?
Just come hang out with me on my livestream. I love getting to know people. Instagram is such a cool place because I get to meet people from all around the world that I wouldn’t get to know in regular life usually. Come hang out with me on my livestream, @OliviaKingMusic across the board on all my socials. All of my music is under my name, Olivia King.