ReverbNation Winner ~ Olivia Thai
Singer-songwriter and comedian Olivia Thai is a breath of fresh air on the Hollywood scene. She says what she means and she walks her talk. We picked Olivia Thai as this month’s ReverbNation contest winner because we love her honesty, her lyrics and her moving single #WhyIStayed.
Of course the first question that I asked Olivia Thai was to tell me more about #WhyIStayed. Olivia explained: “That song was inspired by domestic violence cases, and it was heavily inspired by the hashtag #WhyIStayed. That was one of the biggest hashtags on Twitter, and women were talking about why they stayed in those relationships. I tried to capture the essence of a victim of domestic violence. That song, in particular, has brought me to the most tears out of all the songs I’ve written.”
Olivia Thai records the raw versions of songs while they’re still a work in progress and posts them on YouTube. I love that Olivia brings us along with her on the songwriting journey. I especially adore the single and video for Straight Shooter, so I asked her to tell me the song’s back story. Olivia Thai laughed and told me: “I always introduce this song at my live shows as the song about people who beat around the bush. I don’t understand them, because I’ve always been blatantly honest. I wrote it for people who just can’t figure out how to say things straight on, be straight shooters. What’s funny is, I was having a conversation with a standup comedian and he was telling me a joke about Gabby Giffords. I don’t remember the whole joke, but the punchline is ‘somebody should have been a straight shooter.’ I was like, ‘Huh!’ And then I wrote the song.”
I wondered if Olivia Thai planned to record any of the wonderful songs in her videos, because I’d love to hear them professionally produced. Olivia admitted: “Actually, a lot of them have already been recorded in the studio. They are unreleased. Nobody has heard them but me, the producer and people who come by the studio. The only fully recorded track of my originals that I’ve released is #WhyIStayed. We looking to release in the fall, but I’m not sure yet, because some of the songs might be going to other artists.”
Before becoming a songwriter, Olivia Thai was one of the main cast members and sketch writers for a comedy team with over two million fans. I asked Olivia to shed some light about those days. She smiled and told me: “Those days were so awesome and so fun and lovely. It’s great that I can look back and see that all happened so organically. I was always a music artist. During that time, I was in a phase where I was questioning whether I wanted to be a music artist ever again. There was a point where I thought just screw it! I’m going to do this comedy thing and it’s all for fun. Then, it got more serious. I was taking writing classes with them, writing sketches for them and doing so many more things in the company. I’m so glad and grateful that I got to be part of it. Now, my brand has extended beyond music and I’m also a YouTube personality, which is something I couldn’t have done by myself.”
The call of her music muse never left Olivia Thai. “The entire time I was doing comedy, I was still running my music academy. My income and my life has always been surrounding music. Now, I have time to focus on my own channel and do what I’ve wanted to do, which is write. I really didn’t come back to music, because it never left me.”
Olivia Thai’s vlogs are so much fun! I love how she answers fans questions, talks about makeup and looks like she’s having a fabulous time. Why did she start the vlog? Olivia told me: “Going back to the Straight Shooter concept, I don’t have anything to hide and I just want to connect with people on a different level than I had before. When I worked on the comedy channel, it was not aligned with what I believe in. We are all people. We all bleed the same blood. We are all in this together. I personally respond to as many comments as I can. I have such a strong relationship with the people that support me. I feel like that’s the least I can do for the people that believe in me. I want to interact with them, so we can become friends and connect, human to human. That’s the most important thing about these vlogs.”
The vlogs also serve another purpose for Olivia Thai: “I have issues with expressing anger or sadness through my speaking persona. When I do my music, it’s a lot easier for me to have my emotions come out genuinely than when I film my talking videos. My music brings the dorky, quirky and weird social media persona full circle. It gets real when I do my music. Those are some real feelings that I put on there.”
The success of Olivia Thai’s video strategy is confirmed by the fact that her YouTube channel has over 10,000 subscribers. What’s her secret? Olivia’s not quite sure: “I don’t know if there’s really a secret. Maybe the secret is that I’ve been on social media for over 10 years now. It’s evolved. I started in the Myspace days as a music artist, and I was 16 or 17-years-old at the time. Now, it’s a totally different animal, but I’ve adjusted, stayed relevant and still wanted to connect with people.”
What advice does Olivia Thai have for other singer-songwriters who want to pursue music full-time? “The main question that I ask fellow musicians that are still trying to do music and have a day job is: What’s stopping you? Sort of like the Office Space concept. You know how he just wanted to sit at home and do nothing? I know there’s a survival thing going on. But, I feel like if you’re not putting in the same amount of time in your music that you’re putting into the day job, where do you think that’s going to lead you in music? Music and social media are literally my entire life. Sometimes, I sleep on problems and wake up with the solution.”
Olivia Thai acknowledges that music is a big part of her life: “If it’s not something you’re that passionate about and it doesn’t feel like breathing, then work until it feels like breathing or maybe consider music as a hobby. I don’t want to be discouraging, but that’s really what it is. If you put 40 hours into your day job, then maybe you should put 40 hours into your music and you will see it for yourself. Your music will immediately improve, because you are focusing on it. I tell people that being a musician is who I am. It’s not a choice.”
What’s up next for Olivia Thai? “I just made a sad announcement last week, because I was sad about my last show. I’d been playing a lot of small shows and secret shows for about 9 months now, after I discovered that I could write songs. I played all over LA, doing my singer-songwriter life and performing as many originals as I could. I feel that’s over and done with. I don’t think that I can do the shows where I play to zero people any more. So, that was my last show. I do have a few festivals booked. I have daily videos coming to my YouTube channel, which is absolutely new. I posted a video every single day in the month of June. That’s what I’m going to be doing for July too. I hope that I can keep it up. I feel it’s a very important part of being an independent artist. I want to keep engaged with my audience.”
I wish Olivia Thai all the best and I’m going to watch her daily videos as often as I can.
Amused Now ReverbNation Contest Winners