Olivier may be one of the “first ladies of hip-hop,” but in the span of nearly two decades, she’s proven to have one of the most diverse lineups of female talent in the industry. This week she released her new single, “No Permission”, from her upcoming album, Under pressure. Olivia sat down with The Source to talk about her upcoming album, film projects, music and fashion inspirations, and how she’s dealing with her mental health.
The Source: What can fans expect to be different on this album compared to previous albums?
Olivier : They can expect something totally different because the first album I did was on J Records – and that’s when I came out, it was when I was 21. And then on G-Unit, we didn’t make an album. We just did a bunch of singles and features and everything. They can clearly hear how my sound has evolved.
I’m a big boy Brandy fan, so you get a lot of those tones and we have similar tones, but I always listened to his harmonies and stuff. One of my favorite early songs I recorded, she was actually in session with me because she was married to Bert (Robert ‘Big Bert’ Smith) at the time. She walked in and I was stunned because again, I’m 22 and I’m like, ‘Oh my God, Brandy is actually in the shoot.’
She’s really one of my inspirations when it comes to the R&B side, but everyone knows I love hip-hop, so it’s infused into that as well. I have a lot of different mixes in there because I don’t like to stick to one genre, but the album totally follows. You can play each track in sequence and you get the same vibe.
The Source: You worked with several producers on this album. What do you think each of them brought to the album, in addition to your talents?
Olivier : Of course, everyone brings something different, but I have a particular producer called HV, which stands for high volume. His tracks just grab you when you hear them, like the tracks alone, you can tell they’re smashes. So you have to automatically write something that matches the smash he made. I feel like his tracks make me write even better and I try to make sure that I have producers who can come with the same kind of energy, kind of winning mentality in the tracks that I want .
Source: Of course, setting the bar high. So, are there any guest artists on your new album?
Olivier : I keep the secret. I don’t want it out again until we’re ready for the album [release].
Source: Ok, so your album is called Under pressure and May is Mental Health Awareness Month. How do you deal with pressure, anxiety, stress, all the things we all go through?
Olivier : One main thing I try to do since I live in Florida now and we’re close to the beach, I try to take long walks. We will also go for a walk at night in any city or state where we are. Stuff like that calms you down or relaxes you. I like flowers and sometimes I will have flowers in the house. They always raise your energy. Also, simple things like sitting alone and with everything turned off, no TV, no music, just try to relax. You know, those are really the simplest things. It seems so difficult, but the simple things are what will calm you down and lower your anxiety.
Source: Well, you’ve already mentioned Brandy, but who are some other musical artists who have inspired you?
Olivier : Joe is also one of my favorite male R&B singers. I had the pleasure of meeting him when I came out. Also, he was with my production team, so he was teaching me his runs and I was watching him and playing guitar. He’s actually the reason I tried to learn to play guitar. That’s probably why I like Lenny Kravitz. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a huge Lenny fan. My genre is everywhere, but there is always good music. That’s all that matters, as long as he’s a great artist and makes good music.
The Source: If you could collaborate with any artist (past present, dead, alive, whatever), who would it be?
Olivier : One would obviously be Lenny Kravitz and the other would be Luther Vandross. Some of my fans know this story since I was signed to J Records. Luther was basically my godfather. He took me on my very first shopping spree when I signed up, he took me to lunch at the Ivy, like every two weeks. I remember going to the studio with him and he was wearing this long trench coat with one of these big sweaters. We’re in California and it’s 80 degrees in the studio and his engineer is sweating and I’m like, “Uncle Lou, why is it so hot in here?” He says, “that’s how I keep my voice so warm. And then I started doing it too because I realized it opened up your voice so much more. Luther and I used to walk down the street and sing together and with such amazing harmonies, and I always wanted to make a record with him if I could.
Source: Besides being a talented musical artist, as we all know, you’re also kind of a fashionista. We’ve seen your Instagram, your nails, and you’ve been featured in several fashion magazines. Who are some of your fashion icons or where do you get your fashion inspiration from?
Olivier : It’s difficult because I like a lot of different things. Sometimes I like to be a very girly girl and other times I’m very tomboyish. I love color, so if I go for color types, it will probably be Missoni, but if I go for clean lines and color, it could also be Versace.
I like the simple, but always the classic. It’s a plethora of things. It depends on the day or how you feel like dressing.
In addition to her upcoming album, Olivia is also starring in “Better than My Last,” an action thriller film directed by Shawn Baker slated for nationwide release later this year.
“No Permission” is available on most streaming platforms. More information can be found here: https://unitedmasters.com/m/625daffb4269dc24e93a1165.