Introducing Olivia Devine, our very first “Featured Artist”
1. Name: Olivia Devine
2. Age: 17
3. Location: Mr Lynch, Jesmond
4. How long have you been performing?
I’ve been performing just over a year now. I started gigging and posting online in February of last year.
5. Who were your musical influences growing up?
I have so many! To name a few though, Billy Joel, Marvin Gaye, Jeff Buckley and, obviously, Michael Jackson!
6. What have been your biggest achievements to date?
My biggest achievement to date is probably just how far I’ve come performance-wise. Only a few months ago I still got horrendously nervous before I’d play, so the fact I can play in front of audiences so comfortably and with more confidence now is a big achievement for me.
7. What do you hope to achieve in the next year?
I would really like to release some music, maybe an EP or something. I want to just keep gigging, and play larger audiences and bigger venues.
8. What was the best gig you have performed at?
Probably the first gig I ever played, which was at the Surf Cafe in Tynemouth. That one always sticks with me because I’d never felt anything like it before. I was absolutely buzzing!
9. When is your next gig?
I’m doing a set at a mini festival in central station on the 27th of March, which will be really cool. Then on the 12th of July I’m playing the Mouth of the Tyne festival, which I’m super excited about!
10. What are your social media links?
AS an acoustic artist, it’s always encouraging to see a healthy sized crowd. However, Mr Lynch’s on St Paddy’s Day— a day condoning copious pints before lunch— took the word ‘crowd’ to an inexplicable level. What had been the smoking terrace a few hours prior had become bullied into submission by armies of green-clad students who, by 5:30 in the afternoon, had firmly waved farewell to both their dignity and livers; I could see this was going to be an interesting gig.
Having checked out 17 year old Olivia Devine’s YouTube page, I was majorly impressed with the confidence she had when performing, which certainly surpassed her years. Her song ‘Bring me Down’, which she performed second in her setlist, was stuck in my head all week, with its catchy chorus and surprising melody. However, after being sufficiently bashed en route to the bar by hordes of football chants and gaggles of inebriated screeching, I realised that this crowd was probably more suited to an ‘NTrance-fuelled’ rave than an accomplished acoustic artist with an almost entirely original set list.
However, when Olivia began playing ‘Devoted’— a beautifully sweet-sounding track— there was a definite hush that spread through the Jaeger-Bomb necking, slut-dropping mob that stood before her. She took the chaos in her stride, running up and down her vocal register flawlessly and hitting every sporadic jump in the melody line on point.
Her music had an aged feel to it. It took me back to the days of Hanson and Destiny’s Child or the wave of early 00s artists like Jo-Jo— encompassing that vocally demanding, upbeat and catchy style with an attitude, all rolled into one (and minus the cheese).
It was the kind of music that you’d listen to on a hot summers evening in the garden with a bottle of wine; a ‘Jack Johnson’ meets ‘Beyonce’ cocktail. Her voice had an adaptable tone which seemed to know no boundaries and suited the surprising vocal twists in her songs perfectly, meaning that it never became monotonous.
The other thing that really set Olivia apart was her guitar playing. As a pianist primarily, I become extremely judgemental with that repetitive, ‘musical-esque’ banging that plagues a lot of ‘pianist-vocalist’ sets. In the same way, incessant, on-beat guitar strumming whilst singing over the top really becomes a bore to listen to. What I loved about Olivia’s playing was her attention to the guitar as an instrument as opposed to something just to accompany her voice. Each song had its own individual rhythm and ‘staccato’ed beat which was really refreshing to listen to.
All in all, it was a huge success and Olivia really held her own — despite having a drunken guy take a seat next to her on the stage to ring his mate as she played her final song, 040612. She was totally unfazed, even having a chuckle to herself at his expense. Her willingness to roll with the punches of gigging showed real musicianship, in addition to having almost an album’s worth of well-crafted and recordable tracks. If you want to hear for yourself, check out her YouTube page (details above) where there’s a mixture of unique covers and her own tracks. I look forward to her future ventures and watching her develop as an imaginative and distinctive new artist!