An Interview with Shelby Olive

Written by on February 19, 2018

All photos by Nate Manley

Shelby Olive is a singer/songwriter and a Kent State University ‘17 Music Education major alumna. Feb. 9 she held an release party for her debut solo album, “Make Sound” at Standing Rock Cultural Arts Center in downtown Kent. Olive’s music is infused with folk, pop and jazz influences, and her soothing voice captivates her audience. After finding success as one half of the touring ukulele band, Recipe of Life, Olive decided to pursue a solo career. I had the chance to talk with her at her release party:

What was your biggest inspiration from this album?

“I really wanted to branch off and start something solo, and something that was mine. I was in a band for five years prior to doing a solo project and it was really important to me to tell my side of the story. The song that really kickstarted it for me was “More Than Ink” that’s on the album. It’s about putting ourselves in other people’s shoes, and being more cautious of how we treat each other and what we say to other people. I think a lot of times we shift blame so that was the inspiration for a lot of the music on the album.”

What do you hope people take away from it?

“We should be the ones to stand up for something if we think something’s not right or something should be changed. We have to speak up and we have to be the ones to make sound, which is the title [of the album].”

When you write songs, do you create the music or the lyrics first?

“Most of the time I create the melody along with the lyrics. I’ve never really written freeform words without having a rhythm and cadence in mind. Writing the chords underneath usually comes along with it too. It’s usually an altogether process, but again it depends on the songs. Sometimes I think of a cool melody and never have words to put to it until way later.”

What was the easiest song for you to write?

“My very first song I ever wrote called “Forever Yours”. It’s on my band’s first album. I was like, ‘I’m gonna write a song’, and it just came to me in a matter of seconds. I thought it would always be that easy and it never was again.”

Are there songs that have been harder to write?

“A lot of the songs on the album actually took two or three years to finish writing.”

Are you nervous for tonight?

“I feel more comfortable than I thought I would. I feel ready and the band came together, so I’m excited.”

What was it like being in a collaborative setting while making your album?

“The album was recorded by a guy named Wes McCraw who runs a studio in Norton. I worked with him before on my band’s old album, but what was really cool was, because these were all my songs, I could make all the shots. Wes did a lot of playing on the record. He played bass and guitar and drums for pretty much everything. I got to invite my friend Cameron to play cello…and my friend Matt to play piano. As I was writing, [I would be] thinking of people who would feature well on the songs. It was really cool to collaborate and be in charge.

Who would you say some of your influences are artistically?

“Probably my number one influence is Sara Bareilles. I was into her a lot before I dappled into music. When I dug deeper into her music, she does everything, every genre: jazz, folk, pop, musical theatre. So she was a big one. Other people would be Damien Rice, I love his music and his songwriting. Orla Gartland, she’s an Irish singer/songwriter.

You can find Shelby Olive on YouTube here and can purchase her album and other merchandise here.




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