Have you heard of Olivier Bassil? If you have, then you know he is a talented, passionate musician who is equally passionate about his fans. He treats them like a community, a family, that he connects through his website and of course, with his music. If you haven’t heard of him yet, get ready to hear lots about him in the coming months. I have had the pleasure of interacting with Olivier via social media for a few years now and recently we connected with a lengthy phone conversation where we discussed everything from music videos to brands and beyond. Behind the obvious good looks and the music talent is a caring, intelligent man who aims to please his fans by incorporating his vast knowledge to create the best possible environment for them to accompany him on his journey.
I am so thankful that he invited me to come along with him and has given me the opportunity to invite all of you by doing this interview. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did and that you check out his website ASAP.
Q: Have you always been interested in music? Who are some of your role models/influences?
A: I started being interested in music when I got enrolled in piano and violin lessons at around 7 years old. At the time I had just lost my sister of cystic fibrosis at only 5 and music turned out to be the ideal art form to channel my emotions. I found so much joy in music that I started composing and improvising very early. I already knew at that time that music was my life vocation, all the way to being enrolled in the conservatory and then Berklee College of Music in Boston.
I have a great number of role models. Elvis Presley is my favorite singer for how well he adapted a classic technique into rock. I also admire Jim Morrison’s artistic side of his life, putting poetry into music and turning himself so naturally into an eternal rock icon. Musically speaking, I am a huge adept of Paul McCartney and the Beatles. Their songwriting genius is simply unequalled. On a more contemporary spectrum, I love Maroon 5’s ability to mold their sound, Owl City and Gotye for their amazing creativity and the whole K-Pop movement for bringing international flair into global culture.
Q: Tell me about the new song ‘Superpowers.’ What does it mean to you?
A: ‘Superpowers’ describes my feelings for a girl who is incredibly strong in her life, her work and most importantly, in her heart inside. In the song I refer to her as Superwoman. The story in the song goes through a couple of days spent together, it’s a true love story with a mysterious side. I refer to wanting to “stop the time and hide” and to going “where no one can see us”. I think this song is all about not only finding but following your love and making it real in your life. Because life is simply all about love and in today’s world, people forget that, especially in modern culture.
Musically, it starts with my guitar playing what will be the verse melody. This song reflects my will to express different emotions in the same song. It starts very intimate and builds up into something not only very strong in volume, but also very groovy. The post-chorus, which is the part right after the chorus, goes “you-ou-ou-ou give me superpowe-e-ers” and adds a clear electronic twist to the song. And I think the bridge that goes “forever stronger, I’ll never alone” is very catchy and really takes off the song to another level. When songwriting and producing, I love picking from everything I like with no rules or limits. I think this creates infinite possibilities.
Q: Congratulations on the success of the video, to date it has received over 90,000 views. I know you take much care in everything you create. How long did it take for you to create the video for ‘Superpowers?’ From concept to finish?
A: It took us about four weeks of concept making, 10 days of shoot preparations and only 3 days of shooting with an additional 10 days of post-production. But the video is the fruit of a much longer preparation. We have gone through over a year of in-depth creative brainstorms with my collaborator Maria Mikulas. She’s the super-talented director and visual artist behind all my artwork and photography. What’s interesting about the video is that we were only a few people behind and in front of the camera: Nikki DuBose, the extremely talented and stunning supermodel who is co-starring with me, Maria making her usual magic behind the camera, style genius German Pinazo doing the styling and a couple more people helping on the set. This video really is the fruit of our passions put together for the cause of making a concept real. We’re all so thrilled with it, and it only brought us closer together as creative artists. I can’t wait for the next one!
Q: You have also been a Brand Ambassador, even appearing on the Today show. It sounds like you have incorporated that background into your music by creating your own name for your sound. Tell me a little about the concept of “Envy Rock.”
A: Since I love to mix inspirations that stem from classic rock all the way to the latest electro-pop hits, I had to come up with a creative way of describing my genre. Rock or pop did not make the cut as my music is probably somewhere in between. That’s how we came up with “Envy Rock”. Envy Rock describes the new generation of music that incorporates more electronic sounds but which at the same time has a strong aspirational side for the classics. The aspiration in Envy Rock is about doing something inspired by the legends of the 60s, 70s, 80s or 90s in music. That’s why you have that psychedelic guitar in Superpowers, mixed with an electronic pop sound. At the end of the day, everyone comes to you as an artist for a different aspect of you. But what I seek in my music, is for it to be unlike anything people have heard before, in order for people to truly love or adhere to it in a new and special way.
Q: We discussed the importance of remaining balanced and centered, especially when it comes to the creative process. Being as busy as you are, how do you find the time?
A: I just give the best in the moment. I achieve that by keeping away from distractions, remembering to breathe, and being naturally peaceful at all times. I make sure that I keep my inner peace by taking some time to meditate and be grateful to God after each activity for a few minutes. I think the importance of letting go is so strong, that it means everything in your ability to undertake something in your life on a deeper and more passionate level. When it comes to making music, I love to have a creative routine around it. I warm up first, and then start songwriting. I value the interest of singing and writing every day with no exception, because it’s the only way to truly grow and build continuously in my artistry, no matter where I am.
Q: You have said that music is about innovating and that there is a deeper meaning to life that needs to be addressed in music. How do you plan on bringing this to your fans and taking them on the journey with you?
A: Music is like a human being. You are often attracted to someone you’ll like very rapidly, based on something in their look or attitude. Similarly in music you will be attracted by a catchy sound or melody first. And then there is a whole deeper level, and that’s what will keep you coming back to an artist’s music, as you would develop a relationship with someone you like. I think we can innovate in music on both levels. First of all, the reason why I make music is to do something attractive, catchy and that makes people want to move, hum or sing. I think if people keep singing a song after hearing it a few times or even once, then my role as a singer-songwriter is fulfilled already. But music is not just about being a singer-songwriter, it’s about being a messenger for a deeper cause and set of values that you stand for and live by. My goal is to share love and joy through my songs. I feel an urge to spread happiness, peace, positivity and love. And this is also part of the Envy Rock movement, which started on my site. My song Infectious, which also is the title of my community, is all about that. Joy and positivity can truly be Infectious if you simply start sharing them, and music has that transcendent power to spread a feeling like that all over the world.
Q: The music industry is very different today than it was even a few years ago. What are some of the tools you think can be used to help artists get more exposure and increase their visibility to fans?
A: The first thing an artist needs to do is find their identity. And that’s something that hasn’t changed throughout the times. The difference is that you used to have labels to help you express it. Nowadays, you usually have to express that identity by yourself before being offered the back up of a label. The artist owns a bigger share of the work, but also of the rewards. That’s why it is very helpful to work with collaborators on creating truly inventive content around the songs that will help you get into the channels offered. Once that creative challenge is fully taken care of, it’s a case of being an entertainer online in the same way as you would be in a live event context. As far as platforms are concerned, I would suggest to embrace the amazing sites that are offered out there: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and all the new up and coming social tools for content sharing. The key is to spread key updates very regularly on all of them simultaneously and to dedicate some time to each platform individually as well. It’s amazing how much impact you can make just by using these tools. And it is also a chance to truly grow with a global audience from day one. That’s something very few artists of the previous generations were offered.
Q: Do you write your own songs and lyrics? What is your process like? I have read that some artists, like Stevie Nicks will actually hide away for months while they are writing.
A: I sure do! The reason why I make music is because of how much I feel the need to express myself through melodies that will define parts of my life, in ways that can apply to others too. I do not have one unique setup to compose music. Sometimes a new melody comes to me while walking in the street and sometimes it comes while being immersed in the midst of singing over a new instrumental part in the studio. There’s nothing like being wholly immersed into a song, and being so inspired by the moment that you write everything from the lyrics and melody to the music in one go. When it flows like that, you know you’ve got a new hit in the making. To achieve that state of creating in the now, no distractions are allowed. That’s why I love to be in my cocoon to create. I actually had to apply Stevie Nicks’ isolation technique for a while before being able to come back into society as a more grown musician. But I find that contact with the world inspires me too. Music today has that vibe to it that is very attached to society’s day to day rhythm and I adhere to that too. So I decided to develop my lifestyle somewhere in the middle, living close to the city, but with a secluded and quiet home base, allowing me to truly go on a complete retreat when I an writing music every day.
Q: Do you plan on doing a full album at anytime?
A: Of course, my debut album is to be called Infectious. It is titled after my debut single which is already live on iTunes and for which we will do a video in the future. You are participating in the creation of this album right now, and so is everyone of my fans, by simply discussing about my songs and setting the tone for more songs to come ahead of the album. I have always been more interested in the power of songs than I was in the whole album, so I have decided to focus on growing my career through releasing singles first. This allows me to entertain with great videos and to offer a new world to my audience through each single. They can follow my progress through the whole album-making process. Eventually my album will be a best off album featuring all the songs together as well as of course, many extras. That way I truly feel that everyone can participate in the fantastic creative process that music truly is.
Q: Where can we find you online? Twitter, Facebook, etc?
A: You can find me on Twitter @OlivierBassil where I continuously share updates on my work as well as interact with my followers, who are super supportive. It’s a true pleasure to read my mentions every day and I love replying to them. I use Facebook as a place of exchange for updates, photos and of course videos of the moment. You can also subscribe to me on YouTube where I will release all my music videos and other video content. I’m also on Google Plus, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr. But most of all I love sharing deeper conversations with my community on OlivierBassil.com, where all the core supporters of the movement can register and interact.
Q: Your website is quite the little community. What can people expect when they visit?
A: So many things. OlivierBassil.com is not only a place to listen to my music, watch my videos and follow my updates. It has grown into a place of exchange between all my supporters, which include artists, creatives of different sectors and of course fans from countries all over the world. I don’t believe in a fan relationship as a one way relationship. I believe in being able to exchange with everyone and in everyone do more than just consume content. They should have a chance to directly interact, grow and participate in the project, and that’s the chance they are offered by being part of the community. It’s a statement that you make that you take an extra step to stay close and to be in the loop with my music and the Envy Rock movement. And that can make a strong impact in your life too. We share a lot of philosophical insights on life, and on the importance of pursuing your calling. Many members have been encouraged to pursue their own calling based on their exchange on the site, and they have also met with other people who were as incredibly passionate as themselves. The common denominator is not age, not a certain type or culture, it’s an Infectious positivity and generosity of heart that everybody on the site has and develops. That’s why the community is called Infectious.
Q: What’s up next for Olivier Bassil?
A: I have received so many calls and propositions from the first week of Superpowers being live that it’s impossible to tell exactly what the future holds. But what I can promise you is that it will be truly exciting, and that it will involve releasing great songs, in really innovative way, and involving some really unique collaborators. I cannot wait to share all that further, but the best place to start for anyone who wants to be in the know, would probably be to register to my website at http://OlivierBassil.com/register
I am so grateful to you and Teeco71 for deciding to be part of this story at such an early stage of the process, this is a type of memory you never forget.