On Olivia Jean’s latest release Raving Ghost the artist directly taps into the feeling of somehow being hunted by spirits on track after track of her feverish album. Olivia Jean will be performing in Houston on Friday, June 2 at The House Of Blues Bronze Peacock Room.
“I wanted to write things that are a little bit more intense and heavier because that's what I tend to want to do live,” says Jean of her album. “Then I won’t be changing anything live, the songs will remain the same because I tend to take my older songs and kind of beef them up a little.”
Though Jean has always had a garage and surf rock sound, Raving Ghost definitely brings out the artist’s more in-depth side with layers of arrangements and lyrics combined with an eerie kind of rock and roll filled with intrigue and high energy.
For this album Jean, who has written all of the instrumentation on her last two albums Bathtub Love Killings and Night Owl, again wrote all of the musical parts herself. Unlike her previous two albums, this time she brought what she had to the studio with session players playing and contributing to the tracks.
Raving Ghost was recorded at the famed Valentine Recording Studios in Los Angeles and then taking her tracks. back home to Nashville to mix with Third Man's Bill Skibbe.
“I was kind of giving up a little bit of control which is spooky,” says the artist. “It all turned out really cool and I was really happy in the end and it was a good learning experience to release some control and put my trust in other artists and realizing that it's really beneficial actually because it gives the songs a new life and new style. It's a little bit more freeing when you have to give your ideas to somebody else and they kind of transform them.”
Though listeners will never really know the original versions of these songs, Jean and her team effectively created an album that transfixes the listener track after track starting with the title track which features a video directed by Jean herself and her bassist Erica Salazar.
With Raving Ghost not only did Jean push herself to step outside of her mind and collaborate more with others, but in turn she pushed her team to see the unexposed and surprising rock and roll side of Enya’s “Orinoco Flow.”
“We finally did it,” says Jean who had discussed transforming this song with the Houston Press a few years back. “There was some doubt in the studio but in the end everybody realized that it is possible to turn Enya into a garage song.”
With Jean, it seems that creating music is much like a ghost that constantly haunts her and pushes her to prove that anything musically is possible as long as imagination and talent can work together. "It's a 24/7 job being an artist because you're steering the ship. If you don't steer the ship, no one is going to steer the ship for you so yeah, I'm thinking about it all the time."
"It's a 24/7 job being an artist because you're steering the ship. If you don't steer the ship, no one is going to steer the ship for you so yeah, I'm thinking about it all the time."
Jean has long embodied a DIY approach to her songwriting and recording processes in combination with her fearless attitude towards creating her own distinctive sound. Growing up in Detroit, from a very young age Jean was consumed by music exploring her fathers record collection and riding her bike down to the local record shop to get suggestions from the employees there.
“Ever since I've picked up a guitar and have been playing or recording music on my own, I've always done everything on my own, not because I wanted to in the beginning but out of necessity so I was just trained in that way to be very DIY and that can be really time consuming trying to do everything on your own.”
Like any aspect of life, sometimes asking for and receiving help can be challenging especially if someone has grown accustomed to fending for themselves and taking care of their own needs but with Raving Ghost, Jean has further seen the benefits of counting on the amazing people in her Third Man community.
“We were able to accomplish a lot more, get a lot more done and really get the songs as heavy and cool as possible instead of just trying to get to the finish line,” says Jean, agreeing that asking for help can be hard but definitely made the process more enjoyable for her.
Being the kid who was into music that not many of her peers were exploring definitely caused Jean to learn how to make the music she wanted and create her own visions independently. Joining the Third Man family in 2009 provided Jean with a network of like minded people who, just like her, were the kids that followed their own paths.
“It is a group of extremely creative people,” says Jean. “Everyone thinks out of the box that's involved with Third Man and that was really cool in the studio too because everyone thought out of the box.”
Raving Ghost is available now. Olivia Jean will perform on Friday, June 2 at The House of Blues Bronze Peacock Room, 1204 Caroline, 8 p.m, $15.