Clarkie of the Week: Olivia Schwartz
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Olivia Schwartz (‘19), or as her fans know her, Olivia Frances, hails from Cincinnati, Ohio. She is a global environmental studies major and a music minor. She is a part of the Nashville Singer/Songwriter Association, and participates in several clubs on campus.
Scarlet: Did you find your music scene in Cincinnati?
Olivia: No, actually, I would say that I found it in Loveland (Ohio). One time when I was twelve, my family and I went out for dinner, and I performed at an open mic. We were at dinner, and there happened to be an open mic, and I was like, “Ok cool, I’m going to sing a song!” I sang the first song I had ever written. Then these three guys in cowboy boots came up to me and they were like, “We really think you should join our group, The Nashville Singer/Songwriter Association, we have a chapter in Cincinnati.” That was sort of the first big part. I started writing more songs, and that’s when I started using the downtown scene in Cincinnati. Places like Rohs Street Cafe, Bogarts, Barnes and Noble, just different coffee houses and stuff.
Scarlet: What is the Nashville Singer/Songwriter Association?
Olivia: We are basically a group of singer/songwriters, and we listen to and critique each other’s songs. We play out together at different shows that we organize together.
Scarlet: What’s your favorite part about performing?
Olivia: I love connecting with people. I love meeting with people after the show, before the show, and just talking about the music. I find that so rewarding, and I think that’s why I do it,really.
Scarlet: I heard you took a gap year to record your own album, what was that like?
Olivia: Yeah, so I went to a really competitive high school, and throughout high school, I really didn’t feel like I had the proper time to commit to my music. I wanted to take that time, so I deferred from Clark. I wanted to go to Nashville just to work on it. Originally, I had just wanted to write more, play more, just do it all more. I started out working at Barnes and Noble, and interning at this cool record label, Infinity Cat Recordings. That was a really great experience, and it really showed me behind the scenes. Through my year I realized I should record an album while I was there. That year I released “Evergreen.” It worked out really great. I call it my “dream year.”
Scarlet: Are you looking to release another album?
Olivia: I do want to. Right now, I’ve been writing a lot, so I want to release a single in the next like 3 or 4 months, but I’m also playing with the idea of an EP.
Scarlet: How else have you continued to pursue music at Clark?
Olivia: I love sitting in my bed, honestly, and writing music. That’s kind of where it all started, just writing songs while laying in my bed, and I still love to do that, even here. Performing-wise, in January I played at the PEC/ROCU show in The Grind with a couple of other bands. I’ve been playing a lot of shows! This past month, just February, I’ve been in New York City, I’ve been in Providence, I’ve been in Waltham, and this past weekend I was in Worcester and Medfield. I’ve been pretty busy. I just try to get a lot of sleep to stay on top of things.
Scarlet: Do you have time for other things on campus, or are you just doing music and school right now?
Olivia: I’m actually a part of three clubs. I do Clark Sustainability Collaborative. For a while I was a communication director for that. Now I’m transitioning out of that position because I’m studying abroad in the fall. I’m also in NARAL and Local Root.
Scarlet: Where will you be studying abroad?
Olivia: I’m going to SOAS at the University of London. They have a big music department, which is why I wanted to go. Hopefully I’ll be taking a class called The World of Cuban Music and I’m really excited about that. I specifically decided on London because of music, since it is such a music mecca. Hopefully I’ll be out as much as possible.
Scarlet: What interesting classes are you taking right now?
Olivia: I’m in Ethics of Aesthetics right now which is really cool. It’s counting toward my music minor. It’s a really small class, there are only like eight or ten of us. We all sit in a circle and discuss things like does art have value. It’s really fun. One of my favorite classes though is Writing for Modern Media, shout out to Morris Collins, he is just so great. It’s a three hour class on a Friday afternoon, but he is just so engaging and so funny.
Scarlet: If you’re minoring in music, and are clearly passionate about that, what do you like about global environmental studies?
Olivia: I like to combine my two passions: the environment and music. I want to be a sustainable artist and promote environmentalism. I just want to have that environmental platform. I don’t think that any other artist is really doing that right now, and I think that now more than ever we really need that. I try to write a lot of songs about nature. Music can be so political, you know? I guess I’m not outwardly political in my songwriting about it, but my songs do kind of revolve around that central theme of environmentalism, and I think I am headed in that direction.
Scarlet: Any shoutouts?
Olivia: Shout out Joe D’Angelo for teaching me guitar at Clark. He makes me so happy!
Chiara White-Mink (‘17), who I met during the May term in Luxembourg, is so intelligent and thoughtful! She is a fantastic human being, and a great role-model.
Scarlet: When’s your next show?
Olivia: Saturday, March 18 in Worcester. I’m playing opening act for Cozy Sheridan. She’s a pretty big folk artist. It’s on 90 Main Street, and it starts at 7 p.m. It’s in the Unitarian Church, and has a coffee-house live music vibe. I really hope people can make it!
Thanks for the interview, Olivia!