Olivver The Kid
ØLIVVER THE KID
A few months ago we sat down on our patio with Bryan Sammis to chat about his project Olivver The Kid. What are usually 30 minute sit-downs turned into 2 hours with him as he revealed so much we didn't know or expect. He's an incredibly hard worker, has a genuine vision for his project, and is just at the start of what we know will be a long lasting and inspiring career.
And then it was only fitting that the friend who intro'd us to Bryan in the first place, LYKA alum Daniel Iglesias Jr. of ENDS crashed the party.
It was lit.
Olivver The Kid is the solo alias and project of Bryan Sammis. Former drummer of The Neighbourhood, Bryan is now the singer/songwriter mastermind behind Olivver’s infectious 80’s-tinged pop-songs laced with nostalgia and R&B sentiments. We’ve followed his musical career for years by this point, and have witnessed the growth and progression he’s manifested while transitioning into a solo artist. He is a natural. His latest release The Boy Who Cried Wolf EP is a step-up from his debut release Freak EP, and his maturity is evident in its five songs. TBWCW is a product of genre defying electro-rock-pop influence intertwined with lyrics that are unapologetically sincere. What draws us to the project most, however, is Bryan’s approach to being an artist - from writing music, to his visual aesthetics to writing in general - and his thought process during a time where the music industry is evolving, unpredictable, and at times uninspiring.
Trained in the Loyola University of New Orleans music business program, Bryan had years of free reign over a fully functional recording studio and was able to practice and play for hours on end, honing his craft. "I would record and just put stuff out for fun. I always did it, and eventually I just decided to keep going." Back in LA after school, Bryan teamed up with his songwriting partner Daniel Braunstein and the two have created a production duo. Along with frequent collaborations with Jake Lopez and other songwriters they’ve curated a solid team under the Olivver The Kid moniker. The latest TBWCW EP was a more streamlined process involving fewer writers (as opposed to Freak), making it a more intimate showcase of their work.
Always interested in literature, Bryan had actually intended on becoming an English teacher before pursuing music full time. Fittingly, the five songs of TBWCW EP were actually based on a short story he wrote, written in consecutive order to go along with the story. The majority of the album is only Bryan, Jake and Daniel, but for the last track they teamed up with brainchild of LA-based project Dark Waves, Nick Long. Bryan was drawn to working with Nick after seeing one of his shows at Dirty Laundry, and to us he is a perfect fit musically and aesthetically for the Olivver project. Due to the origin of the EP the well-rounded record embodies a cinematic quality from start to end, painting a picture for its audience, while still maintaining open interpretation from the listener’s standpoint.
"A friend who's a recovering addict hit me up and asked if it was about drugs. And I was like, 'Well, not to me, but I'm glad that it can be for you.' That's the point, you know what I mean?"
As a solo artist, Bryan is firmly coming into his brand and we’re starting to understand what Olivver The Kid truly is. Even though he is still figuring it out, each release has revealed to his audiences another layer of his evolvement and poise as as solo artist, and ultimately what makes him stand out among the rest. The music scene today is inundated with content, and with the technology to create and discover, it has changed the art’s priorities as it stands. It has become a world of fast food music, where a band can put out a hit but maybe can’t create something of long-lasting quality, and music consumers with short attention spans are only capable of consuming in bytes. In addition, the standard in which we consume music, and the mentality that we’ll accept whatever’s trendy without thinking critically, takes away from its meaning.
"I've just been in this place where music is funny to me. The idolization of it - because nowadays anyone can make music. But for what purpose? Cool, you can open up GarageBand in your house alone and write a full-fledged hit. But for what? It's just become confusing to me. I'll listen to songs and a lot of bands pick such random, meaningless things to write about, and it's just like, why? Why does this matter, who cares?"
Rather than letting his success define his self-worth, Bryan now looks at the communities he is surrounded by, and the role he plays in each of them. He handpicks his collaborators, has an incredible support system that believes in the project, and is involved in several aspects of his art, allowing him to have the control that every artist deserves.
"One of the realizations I had is that music is like a person to me. It's so much of my happiness - for a long time, at least until recently - I was dependent on it. At times I loved music, and at other times I fucking hated it. It's like a drug, it's an addiction. You need it. Especially a lot of bands that have success early on... You had that success, so you want it again. It becomes like you're chasing it the whole time, and if you don't get it, you're bummed out. It affects your mood. And so for me, much like a drug or much like an addiction to anything else, I didn't want that to rule my emotions."
Bryan is refreshing to us because he is mindful of all of these things. Rather than relying on the potential fame and/or money to fuel a project, he takes the time to interact with his fans and create something long-lasting and meaningful to those who connect with and support his art. He claims it’s important for him to feel accessible to his fans, online and off, and that going to a show just to watch is cool, but it can also be a passive experience. Bryan wants to create a deeper community and experience through his music.
"There's a good quote that's been circling the Internet lately - it's 'Be the person you needed when you were younger.' So I think that's what I'm kind of trying to do. Also kind of that, 'do as I say, not as I do.' I think that this project is such a good outlet for me to be a positive influence on kids who are in similar boats as I was. And by no means does that mean I have it figured out, I still mess up. But if Ølivver can be this person who's better than Bryan is, that can be something positive, which is really all I want from this project."
Olivver The Kid are back with a revamped live show opening for Kitten and LYKA alum HUNNY at the Fonda Theatre on Saturday, 1/30. Tickets still avail here: http://www.axs.com/events/297179/kitten-tickets?skin=thefonda
See you there. x
What's it like to have such devoted fans who are making fan art, getting your lyrics tattooed on them etc.?
That’s all I’ve ever really wanted, you know? I think that one of the perks of doing this project so grassroots initially is that we’ve built a backbone of people who are just down for the whole ride. Wherever it goes, they’re in. Kids will send me their poetry or something they’ve painted or photography or they’re getting stuff tattooed, and that’s the kind of people that I like... not even just as fan base, I wanna hang out with those people. Those are the kinds of people I want to surround myself with. People who have ambitions and are so creative.
Where did the name Olivver come from?
I was going to legally change my name to Olivver. I was just being a young kid, it sounded cool like, ‘I’m gonna change my name.’ I went to the courthouse and they were all, “That’ll be $450,” and I was like ‘yeah, I’m not gonna do that, I don’t have any money,’ haha. I put myself through college and I used to give blood before I had a lot of tattoos, and they couldn’t pay me but they’d give me these Jack In The Box cards. You’d get two free tacos with whatever you bought. So at the height of my poverty in college, I would go there and get two tacos for a dollar then get two more free, and have two for lunch, two for dinner. Or they had 69 cent gas station burritos, I would get those sometimes, too. But yeah, I didn’t change my name.
What can we expect from Olivver The Kid in 2016?
A possible tour. Probably won’t be too extensive. I really wanna hit the Northwest. There are kids in Seattle, San Francisco and Portland who’ve reached out about wanting to see a show, so we’ll see. And just working on a lot of the business side of things. That’s why working with a manager has been helpful. He’s really helping me take a step back and shape things more. Get a booking agent, get a label… and I’m doing videos for BBBlue and World On Fire.
Who are you listening to now, and who are your guilty pleasures?
My joke answer is podcasts. Talk radio… that’s what I listen to, that’s what I listened to on my way over here. But actual albums, Ghost Stories by Coldplay, that album’s so good. I like the Japanese House, she’s really good... you know that’s produced by the drummer of The 1975?
*whispers* Yes... plus Matty...
George, who knew right? [We knew.] She’s great. The new MuteMath album… that’s all my pleasure music, and then podcasts, I listen to HarmonTown, Doug Loves Movies. Guilty pleasure music, I guess I like some of Justin Bieber’s new album, I think half the singles are really good and then I like Company. The rest of them were a little skippable to me. So that for sure.
// ENTER LYKA ALUM DANIEL IGLESIAS JR. //
B: Hey buddy - are those my headphones? Were they just sitting in your car?
D: Yea. haha.
L: Nice pants and shoes, ooh....
B: I just saw the end of Mad Men and your outfit’s very on point.
D: Why thank you. Can I have water? I got pretty *LIT* last night. I need to hydrate.
J: Yea, I saw the snapchats, haha.
Sorry Dan, we only have like, three more questions - What do you like to do outside of music?
B: Write. I really want to get a typewriter but I don’t know where to get one.
D: Why do you want one? Just because you like the tactile feeling?
B: Yea, I feel like it would make me be more productive than a laptop. Like a laptop, every time I try to write on it it’s so distracting. But yea, I like writing a lot. And basketball. Ping-pong. I challenge anyone at ping-pong. I challenged Drake on Instagram to a $10 million game of ping-pong. He always posts pictures of him playing, and he has his own paddle - like OF COURSE you have your own paddle. But you’re just rich, that doesn't mean you’re good. I take it seriously - like I went to The Standard for a birthday party, and everyone was having fun but every game I would take my cardigan off, take my necklace off… like, LET'S GO. Like I was playing a girl who’s in heels, hahahaha.
You should look up OM writer - it's a program you download for writing that takes over your whole screen and plays really ambient music - really nice to write with.
D: YO - you gotta try this shit. Hackertype.net. Go to it.
B: Daniel just taking us to the deep web. Lillie, you’re gonna get a call from the government tomorrow…
D: Yo , let me see? If I’m ever shooting a scene where I need someone to be hacking…. You guys don’t mind if I hack into the mainframe really quick?
[DANIEL HACKS - SEE LYKA TWITTER]
D: How good is that bro? No eyes, I’m just hacking. The most fun in the world. There’s another one - this is my other favorite one. Touch Pianist. So you can pick a composition and all you have to do is hit the buttons in rhythm to make it seem like you’re playing the song. It’s so much fun, there are so many compositions!
B: Is it possible to mess up on it?
D: Well yea, you can play it unrhythmically and it’ll sound lame. You have to keep the rhythm! Chopin? You like Chopin? Also a fan of the Moonlight Sonata. Wait, I’ll go back to Chopin, I’m a Chopin fan.
J: Daniel, I like how you spend your time.
D: I’m a hacker, I’m a pianist…
OK - two more questions: favorite brunch spot?
B: Brunch spots... Larchmont Bungalow.
D: Oh dude , I live two minutes from there.
B: That place is tight. And then I don’t know… I’m not really a breakfast guy. Or lunch really… Dinner is my meal.
Bloody Marys or mimosas?
B: Oh, mimosas for sure. See I want to like bloody marys. I want so bad to like them.
D: I just recently got into them!
B: I just can’t do it, dude…
D: YO so my philosophy on them for so long was like… this drink’s just fucking dumb. Like a three year old got a hold of a blender when mom wasn’t looking and was like ‘...and some spaghetti and some broccoli and some celery...’ and I’m like 'In my DRINK!?'
B: Well see I don’t like tomato juice, so I tried one that had something else not tomato juice and I still didn’t like it. It might be the pepper for me. I also don’t like vodka.
D: You ever not like shit for your entire life, and then one day be like, ‘I think I’m going to like this now…” Know what I mean? It happened to me with that shit, I was in vegas and one morning I was just in the mood, we were all going down day drinking and I had one and it was like yep, I knew it was time. So I fuck with em now.
B: You ever heard that party song SLS…
D: It’s my favorite party song.
B: So the beginning of that song is Jamil, and he’s like ‘I lahv mimosas. I lahv champagne.’
D: I love champagne!