Q&A: Olive B Is A New Voice In Toronto’s R&B Scene

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R&B has been in a weird place as of late. With Hip-Hop becoming the world's most popular genre, R&B is still trying to reclaim its prominence from the 90s. It is well on it's way with the help of artists like Solange, Bryson Tiller, H.E.R., and Khalid making great music and greater impacts on all the necessary charts. But for R&B to continue to rise, new voices have to constantly be included in the mix. During one of my recent Soundcloud dives, I came across the "no (w) here" EP from Toronto-based artist Olive B.

The seven-track "no (w) here" EP is a melting pot of the various emotions of a young woman in transition. Discovering who you are and who you want to be while falling in and out of love is a big theme in the project and in a lot of people's lives. Relatable music with soothing production is a winning combination ten times out of ten. I recently talked to Olive about her concept behind the EP, the music scene in Toronto, her approach to songwriting, and more. Read the full interview and stream "no (w) here" below.

OTW: Where did the name Olive B come from?

Olive B: My middle name is Olivia and my grandma used to call me Olive. B is for Balsom my last name. At first I wasn’t sure about it, but it kind of sounds like you’re saying all of me, which I like.

What moment in your life did you decide you wanted to make music?

I always wanted to, when I was 7 my mom got me a karaoke machine and I would perform for my parents and their company that they had over for dinner, but I started writing my own music and taking it more seriously in college.

What is your approach to songwriting? Do you have a big imagination or do you pull stories mostly from your own life?

The easiest thing for me to do is freestyle, I have a bunch of voice notes in my phone that I constantly keep adding to and refer back on. For my EP I actually started sitting down and writing more, Kevin (my producer) helped me sit down and write down lyrics in a cohesive way.

What is the local music scene like in Toronto for up and coming artists?

The Toronto music community is very supportive, it’s interesting because there are so many pockets of different genres and it’s good for up and coming artists, lots of open mics and influence. Toronto has so many associations with hip hop and r n b with so many strong artists in the genre, I see myself fitting with the UK sound in a certain way.

What does the name no (w) here mean?

No where & now here. I was in a stage in my life where I didn’t know where I was personally within myself. I knew I wanted this to be the name before I even started writing the project.

What song meant the most to you on the project?

Stay the night’ is my all time favorite song to jam to but might not mean the most to me, it changes with what’s happening to me at the time. Right now, ‘swings’ means the most, I feel its an empowering song to forget about someone's BS and focus on yourself.

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You describe a lot of your music as ambient - who are some other artists you like that make "ambient" music?

Imogen Heap is definitely my number one favorite ambient artist, but my other favorite artists span from different genres. (Sade, Alina Baraz, Yuna, SZA)

What's up next for you this year?

A lot of collabs, some covers and new music. I’ve been working with some new producers, I am stoked about it.

Stream Olive's no (w) here EP below.

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