August 4, 2022
Words by: Arthur Cross
Olive Featherstone has been one to watch in Bristol for quite sometime and with debut album ‘I Was Wondering, Lost’ being released this month it feels that now is the time for her project to fully blossom. The album as a whole is contextualized by Olive’s dips in mental health, and it is these experiences that she revisits in her music. A sort of archeological process of re-discovery through the creation of her music allows a deeper sense of understanding and clarity. As a listener you are brought on this journey which flits from chaotic rushes of guitar to introspective quieter ballads. A deeply arresting piece of work which never fails to keep you entranced. In this interview we discuss this overarching theme as well as beginnings, collaboration and the wonders of the Bristol music community.
When did you first start playing music and what drew you to it?
I first started playing music when I was twelve-years-old. Every other weekend I’d be in my Dad’s van driving between his in Cambridge and my Mum’s in Tunbridge Wells – we’d listen to artists like Bob Marley, The Levellers and Public Enemy. So many hours dedicated to listening and appreciating music just made me so excited; the minute I was asked for my Christmas list I asked for a pink electric guitar.
Have you felt Bristol as a city had inspired you at all in your writing?
As a city, I’ve felt the effects the most in terms of playing live – I’ve been so inspired by how busy and welcoming everyone is and has been.
What have your interactions been like with the music community here?
Unbelievably positive. I moved here during the pandemic and thought it would be a long while to feel like a part of the Bristol tapestry, but at my first gig – supporting Oliver Wilde at The Exchange back in July 2021 – I immediately felt welcome and before long I felt comfortable walking into venues like The Louisiana on my own, knowing I’d probably see familiar and friendly faces.
I saw you played with another Bristol Artist Mary Waters on their live session, this feels like a lovely example of the cross pollination that can occur in music communities. I was wondering if there are more permanent song collaborations on their way with other artists?
I loved working with Mary! At the moment, I’ve been and continue to play with other Bristol artists live – such as Emily Isherwood and Mary. I am definitely open to the idea of writing with other artists in the future.
I’m interested in the style of artwork you have gone for with collages of people in quite contrasting and surreal settings. What do you think drew you to using these images for your music and how do you think they further the narrative of your songs?
It’s gorgeous, my amazing friend Abby designed the four single artworks and a New York artist @color_me_lurid designed the album artwork. I feel a real balance between retro and the now; for me, the record is a good blend of that. Visually, I wanted feminine, floral, other worldly collages and I think that brief was definitely met! The record is all about a feeling of emotional detachment and isolation. The surreal visuals definitely depict that for me.
One of your singles for this upcoming debut album ‘Lie Down’ explores your feeling about dissociation and came out of a down part in your mental health. It must be really tricky to have the courage to come forward like that and express those feelings you were having. What do you think it is about music which helps this expression?
It definitely isn’t an approach that feels comfortable for a lot of artists. I never wanted to deny my experiences especially when it’s a topic like depersonalisation – which was something I couldn’t find a diagnosis for until two years after my first attack due to the lack of information out there – then it would be so useful for me to be able to talk about the motive for the track.
Talking of your upcoming album, how did it feel to make a larger body of work and did it change your creative process at all or attitude to your songwriting having that extra room on a release?
Totally. Totally! Ahah. It felt unbelievable to see this enormous project through from start to finish. It was really tough to stay motivated when you don’t have a record label breathing down your neck and you’re taking it all out of your own wallet. But the journey was incredible, and now I’m just super excited to make the next long length project!
If there is one thing you want people to take away from the album – what would it be?
The record, for me, was a cathartic release and comfort to a very isolating part of my life. In whatever form it may take, I would love for it to be the same for anyone listening. The record is available to pre-save through the link in my bio – ‘I Was Wondering, Lost’ is out 26 Aug 2022.
What is next after the album release, any shows coming up? Please plug away!
At the moment there’s nothing in the diary but I may be working away to put an album release show together…