by CA Marshall
Happy New Year! We can\t think of a better way to begin the Starlight Music Chronicles year other than showcasing our January 2016 Artist of the Month (AOM) Winner, Olivia Penalva. This young lady hails from Vernon, British Columbia with strong French (father) and German (mother) roots. In fact, at the time of this interview, she was in Lyon, France celebrating New Years Eve with her Father’s Family there.
Since discovering Olivia via the Reverbnation Contest hosted by Bongo Boy TV (www.bongotboytv.com) and sponsored by Starlight Music Chronicles, it has been a steady uphill climb for this young Recording Artist. She won a spot on the Television show in October 2015 and then participated in our December 2015 AOM competition. After her defeat for the December competition, Olivia applied again for the January 2016 AOM and won. We have to say that it is a testament to this young lady’s already positive and sunny outlook for her to have gotten right back up on that success train and give it another go. To see her win was even more thrilling as we have had Artists compete more than once and not make the cut as AOM. Suffice to say, Olivia is more than a winner, she is a leader in many respects, paving the path for other Artists in her demonstration of sheer determination and belief in herself.
Here’s the scoop:
SMC - Wow Olivia! You are truly a remarkable story and everyone is talking about your win for this month's Artist of the Month(AOM) spot. We are happy to host you as our First Ever AOM of the Year! How do you feel about this win as compared to other contests that you have participated in?
Olivia - Thank you so much Candice. I am super happy to have won Artist of the Month for January 2016.!!! I was already excited to participate last month and was up against some great talent, so I was definitely not disappointed to have come in 4th. I have been fortunate to have been part of several music competitions over the last few years and of course it is always great to win, but I have learnt early on to enjoy the process and that not coming first does not mean I did not gain something from the competition. Last month, contributor Randy Wayne Belt, interviewed me for Starlight Music Chronicles magazine and he was so supportive and complimentary about my music, that new fans started to discover me and communicate with me. So I really think part of why I won this time was thanks to your support of me and these new amazing fans. It sure feels great to win and for so many reasons. It is nice to see my fan base growing and have my music liked and appreciated by new people, and it is also super cool to be part of Starlight Music Chronicles blog and website that comes from winning this competition.
SMC - Olivia, can you tell us a little bit about your musical timeline to give our readers a fresh perspective on what made you the Artist you are today?
Olivia - Well I always loved singing and dancing but it wasn't until I started singing lessons at age 11 that I realized how much I loved music. I loved it so much I took lessons a couple times a week and then entered a local music talent competition. After placing in the top 12, I started to get little gigs around my community, and fell in love with performing as well. I did not want to just be good at singing other people's music, and so decided I should try to write my own. It was pretty hard at first, but by age 12 I released my first two singles, and by age 13 I released my first album called Rainfall. It felt amazing, one of the songs on that album even won top 15 in the Teen category of the International Song Writing Competition. I decided to host a CD release concert here in Vernon to introduce my album and myself to my community, and was blown away when it sold out! I was hooked. By then I was so lucky to have caught the attention of Sony/ATV writer Andrew Allen and his wife Julia Allen, who became my managers. They are amazing and thanks to their guidance over the last 2 years, I have been fortunate to work with and song write with so many amazing musicians like Brian West (Maroon 5, Nelly Furtado) who produced my last single, Ferris Wheel in LA, and Josh Cumbee (Madonna, Janet Jackson) with whom I co wrote a song called Forgettable which was released by Canadian DJ duo DJ Project 46 on their album Beautiful. I am very grateful for each and every opportunity that is put in front of me and I know how fortunate I am able to be where I am doing what I do.
SMC - When I congratulated you on the 28th of December, you mentioned you are in Paris! What's happening there?
Olivia - Right now I am actually in a beautiful city called Lyon in France. My dad is from here and all of his family still lives here so I love coming back here and visiting with everyone and eating all the amazing food and looking at all the old buildings and pretty things. Just before we arrived in France, we made a week long pit stop in Edinburgh, Scotland to spend Christmas with my cousins who live there. So needless to say it has been a truly wonderful holiday!!
SMC - How old are you?
Olivia - I am now 15 and soon to be 16 in April, which I am pretty excited about because I can get my learners license and start driving!! Not sure if my parents are excited about that though!!
SMC - Do you have any wishes for your future you'd like to personally achieve before your next Birthday?
Olivia - Yes!! I always have goals I am setting for myself whether it is with music or school. This winter I have lots of cool music stuff happening.... So stay tuned because there just may be the most awesome single coming out before my birthday.
SMC - How about your Music Career in the next 6 months? What’s happening in that time?
Olivia - I have a bunch of cool music stuff happening this winter which includes producing and releasing some new singles. I am very excited about that. I will be working and song writing with my amazingly talented friend Robin Ghosh who co-wrote on Ferris Wheel and my Christmas singles, Christmas for Two. I also have some cool gigs coming up including a francophone festival and working in a super cool studio on the island with a Grammy winning producer. I also have some cool video and photo shoots coming up.
SMC - How about the next Year?
Olivia - Well I am pretty sure I know what I am up to in the next 6 months, as for after that, I guess I can say that I will continue working and go where the music and opportunities take me. I love making music and performing music, so whether it be making new covers for my YouTube page, or singing at private events, concerts, or festivals, I am sure you can find me somewhere!!
SMC - What is your long - term goals for you personally and in your career say, 5 and 10 years from now?
Olivia - I could answer and say music, music, music, as that is the future I see for myself. I would love to make a living writing songs and performing. If I could do that I would be set. I am excited to see where my music takes me.
SMC - Speaking of travel, what places have you traveled to and which are your most favorite and why?
Olivia - I love travel, but I also love coming home to Vernon. I have been super lucky to have a dad from France and a mom whose family comes from Germany, so I grew up spending a lot of time in Europe. My parents love to travel, so they dragged my sister and brother and I all over. We all love going to Hawaii as well as it feels great to put your feet in the sand and smell that sweet Hawaiian air. Hard to say where I love it the most as each destination offers sow thing different. I guess I love the food and culture of Europe and the hot beautiful weather of Hawaii. Music has brought me to new places in Canada which has been really cool as well as a lot of people don't purposefully travel in Canada. Everyone seems to want to elsewhere. But last year I was invited to perform in Ottawa and had so much fun, and then went to Toronto and around BC on a radio tour and loved that too.
SMC - What song of your own is your favorite and why?
Olivia - I really really love the song Forgettable that I co wrote last year in LA, which was released in July by DJ Project 46. It is a very emotional and uplifting song that I think is really relevant to people and especially teens who feel a little lost and alone. Everyone matters and I think this song makes people feel that. I am also crazy about one of my new ones that are coming out this winter. It has such an uplifting message as well. It just makes you feel important.
SMC - This AOM competition is now in its 6th month and we will be competing for Artist of the Year with all of the winners from Last August 2015 until July 2016. You are placed halfway through the competition at this point. What are your thoughts on, say, an Artist from the beginning of these competitions to the winner in July 2016 as far as advantage for winning the Artist of the Year title?
Olivia - Hard to say but I think it is awesome that we all get to be in a competition together! At this point it probably won't matter who comes out on top.
SMC - There has been a string of successes that have followed you as of late. Can you tell us a little about those achievements and what they mean to you?
Olivia - I have been so very lucky. I am so aware of all of that. I have songs that have been recognized by song writing competitions, songs that have been added to albums being released by well established musicians, worked with amazing musicians, been nominated for several competitions such as radio emerging artist for my song Ferris Wheel, YouTube artists of the month by an Australian magazine, top 10 female in she's the one Competition at the Ottawa Blues Fest, top 20 song on the Canadian Radio charts for Christmas For Two, Ferris Wheel being chosen do by Bongo Boy TV to air on NBC TV in the US... So many amazing things!!! I am especially proud of my team of supporters which include my managers Andrew and Julia Allen, my Publicist Sera Roadnight of MT Press, my radio tracker Oscar Furtado, my parents...
SMC - As you know we have affiliations with Morgan`s Mission (www.morgansmission.ca) and we see that you have also joined the Page on Facebook for Morgan`s Mission. What are your thoughts on combining the Music Industry with a sensitive subject like Morgan`s Mission and what it stands for (Here is the Page`s Mission Statement from the Dunbar Family: Morgan's Mission was created after we lost our daughter to the effects of cyber bullying. We are bringing awareness to bullying, mental health and suicide.`)
Olivia - I think Music is a great way to bring attention and awareness to these issues. Music brings people together, makes people feel better, and can uplift you when you feel down. It is already hard enough to be a teen, let alone struggle with cyber bullying, mental health issues, and suicide. So if music can have a place in helping people, then definitely I am all for it and being a part of that process.
SMC - We are also hosting a Starlight Music Concert in June of 2016 where many Artists from all over the globe will be participating. We hope to help raise money to brighten and strengthen the talent that many youth and teens suffering with depression, PTSD, mental illness, and suicidal thoughts by channeling through the Arts as a means to cope. What are your thoughts on this?
Olivia - I think this is wonderful. Art is such a great way for us to express ourselves and our emotions, and I think it is awesome that SMC is hosting a concert to support that. If I can be there and help out, I will definitely make that happen.
SMC - What organizations, if any, do you support and why?
Olivia - When I wrote Fight For You I was thinking about some struggles that people must be going through in their lives. I was only 13 but remember seeing homeless people in my city during a really cold spell and was really affected by that. I checked around my community to see who was helping provide food and shelter and approached the Salvation Army of BC. So 100% of the proceeds of the sale of Fight For You on iTunes go to the Salvation Army of BC. I have being doing this for two years now and will continue to help as much as I can.
SMC - What do you believe to be the biggest accomplishment a Recording Artist can make in their Career. Meaning: what is most important to you? (other than the obvious: getting signed by a label)
Olivia - Getting signed by a label is definitely an achievement for any artists for sure. And of course that would be pretty awesome, but if I can make a living making and performing music, then I think I will be pretty happy.
SMC - Which leads to our next question: Do you prefer to remain an Indie Artist or would you prefer to be signed to a label? We have heard positives and negatives from Artists on both sides of the spectrum...
Olivia - I am pretty happy with the progress I have made so far without the help of a label. I have an amazingly supportive family, super awesome managers, an amazing publicist and radio promoter, and have so many talented and wonderful people who believe in me. So for now I can say that being an indie artist has been great for me. I am sure it would be great to have a label back your career, but that could be pretty stressful too as then it would feel like I had to live up to goals that I did not set for myself and not sure how I would feel about losing some control over my own career. I am being patient and enjoying each stage of this industry and at 15 am pretty content right now with the balance between music, school, family and friends. Fun to see what the future holds!
SMC - What is a most recent `Greatest Moment` from one of your fans?
Olivia - I love getting messages from my fans!!! It is always so nice to get positive and supportive comments from them. I have some really great fans. I guess some cool moments recently came from people who heard Christmas For Two on the radio and looked me up or shazamed me then messaged me on YouTube to tell me they loved it and became a fan!! It feels so good to have your music get out there and affect people in a way that makes them want more of it.
SMC - Are you originally from British Columbia, Canada?
Olivia - Yes I was born in Vancouver BC and moved to Vernon BC when I was 9. I love living here. It is so beautiful, especially in the summer.
SMC - Last Question: We always like to ask this one - What advice would you give one of your peers or a youth entering the Music Industry and hoping for a fruitful career?
Olivia - Well from my very short lived experiences so far, the best I can say is shoot for the moon but have a couple back up plans. Be prepared to work hard and don't quit when things don't go your way. You can't please everyone and you may not always get what you want, but often you get other cool things instead. If you love it, do it!
SMC- Thank you Olivia and Congratulations again!
Olivia - Thank you so much Candice and SMC for these opportunities, for this competition, and for all your support!
For Olivia Penalva's Social Media click on the links and it will redirect you: