Melbourne based singer / songwriter Olivia Bartley, who goes under the moniker Olympia, brings us a sound that is from a totally different world. Reminiscent of 80s electro-pop, Bartley’s silk smooth vocals glide over minimal yet punchy and twangy guitar rhythms, creating a euphoric, infectious sound. The light tones of her songs are perfectly balanced with the deep and cleverly constructed lyrics that will be imprinted in your mind after one listen.
Sophisticated, mature and gorgeous, Olympia weaves together an intriguing electro-pop tapestry with her latest single Tourists.
Olympia, who has been a musician since her early childhood, first came to light in 2011, drawing listeners in with rich rhythms and layers upon layers of delicate vocals and harmonies. Although she’d played in various other msuical projects, it was actually Bartley’s design degree that inspired her to focus on Olympia. “I’m really interested in artists where there is a strong link between their concept, their materials and the outcome” she says. “This isn’t restricted to the visual arts – you see this (or hear, rather) in the recordings of artists including Glenn Gould, or any of the early synth pioneers. This process-led approach led me to creating and producing my own music “.
Through her early singles like This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things and Honey, Olympia introduced her unique sound that once you start listening to, you’ll never want to stop. Although relatively new in the music world and still on her way up, the songstress has already shared the stage with the likes of Paul Dempsey, Josh Pyke and City and Colour, proving that she is the real deal.
She has curated a sound that, while being perplex and busy, is quite approachable. The numerous layers that appear in her songs work their way individually into your ears, and once they meet, come together to carefully wrap themselves around your brain, leaving you mesmerised from the stunning aural encounter. Similarly, the instrumentation, although reserved and once again, minimal, is executed in such a clear cut and precise way that is still manages to work it’s way into the foreground and beautifully complement the vocals.
Her latest single Tourists is all this electro-pop goodness and more. Speaking of the single Bartley says”Our latest single, Tourists was written in response to Jenny Holzer’s work: ‘In a dream you saw a way to survive and you were full of joy’, in addition to the work of photographer Lucia Nimcova who explores the contradiction between women’s dreams and the realities they live in”. While it harbours all the qualities Olympia boasts, there is a sense of maturity that looms throughout the entirety of the track. Teamed with thoughtful and carefully constructed lyrics such as, “He’s the kind that keeps his rear windows open, talk to him I’m not falling, love breaks to moments of summer, drowning delta waves again,” there is an element of melancholy imagery that is pained by Tourists. In a nice change of pace from a lot of lyrics that are floating around pop culture, this track is thought provoking, and tells an emotional tale of love and loss.
Currently Bartley is working with Burke Reid (The Drones, Courtney Barnett) to put the finishing touches on her debut album which is due out in early 2016. Olympia will be taking her dreamy tunes to Sydney and Melbourne, where Tourists will be officially launched in a night of 80s inspired keyboards, razor sharp guitars and angelic vocals.
Tuesday 24 November – Shebeen, Melbourne
Thursday 3 December- Oxford Circus, Darlinghurst