“For me, songs are little moments in time and fragments of a story,” says 25-year-old singer/songwriter Olivia Somerlyn, now known to the world as simply LIVVIA. “You can make so many songs that together can tell a whole story.” It’s a mantra that the young star has maintained throughout her decade-long tenure in music. Now, with her new single “Say It,”LIVVIA continues to tell stories through her music and touch lives with her undeniable sound.
As a child, LIVVIA learned she was gifted musically in a myriad of unorthodox ways. As an only child growing up in San Francisco, she would tinker with instruments, though her mother thought every child just did that. “She didn’t really recognize it as unique,” LIVVIA says. It took a moment at a birthday party—where young LIVVIA walked up to a piano and learned how to play “Happy Birthday” by ear—that she realized there was more to this. Olivia continued to
dabble with instruments, mastering them by ear before moving onto actual chord progressions.“That’s something I’ve always been really passionate about, learning other songs by ear,” she adds. “That’s how I learned to play the piano, and it’s still my favorite instrument.”
By 13, LIVVIA was bound for Los Angeles every weekend during high school, working with songwriters and cutting tracks in studio, building what would become her debut EP. 2010’s eponymous project Olivia Somerlyn was a collection of songs created during those sessions. The lead single “I’m Just Fine” found its way to the front pages of MySpace and its music portal, along with AOL Music. LIVVIA then enrolled in University of California, Berkeley as an Economics major, though still heavily pursued her music career. Her continuous grind led to representation by CAA, which she describes as her “Wizard of Oz” moment. “Just walking through those doors
had me in complete awe,” LIVVIA says. “That was the moment I realized it was time to come out of the studio and start performing. It was really special.”
She was added to monumental tours, including opening for the Jonas Brothers and jumping across the pond to tour with the likes of Jessie J and Meghan Trainor, hitting stages like London’s iconic O2 Arena. By 2014, she was collaborating with Nick Jonas on her single “Parachute,” which Jonas both produced and co-wrote with LIVVIA. The song hit Number One on Billboard’s Dance Club Songs chart, but wasn’t alone for very long, as a year later LIVVIA cut another Number One dance single with “OXO.”The tour life was magical, but LIVVIA was ready to enter the next phase in her career. “After
tour, I wanted to develop a new sound, so I headed back to the studio and that’s where LIVVIA came to be,” she says. “I changed my stage name from Olivia Somerlyn to LIVVIA to differentiate from my older material. I like to call it a fresh start.”
Having significant recent success from songs like “Catch a Body” with Quavo and “Gratitude,” LIVVIA was geared to level up. A meeting with 12Tone’s Steve Bartels proved to be fortuitous,
as she was added officially to 12Tone’s roster in the Summer of 2018 as LIVVIA. “It was the first time I really released music through a label,” LIVVIA adds. “It was the next level. Up until that
point, I was independent.”
Her 12Tone debut tracks “Damn” and “Dizzy” showcased a new era for LIVVIA, as she crafted tracks that possessed both soul and pop vibes while still telling a story, the former being placed on the season finale of Hawaii Five-0. Everything from the lyrics to the music videos are detailed. “I like my music videos to be a mini movie,” she explains.
LIVVIA’s new single “Say It” is described as a love story, with the theme of simply speaking what’s on your mind to the person you love. “It’s how I live my life,” she expresses. “I don’t hold back, and I love how the song captures that.” The track will kick off a series of singles that will continue to tell a story, only this time it’s LIVVIA’s. “I like focusing on one song at a time and making each one an era of my career.”
After ten years of making music, LIVVIA is headed into her next phase of stardom. She’ll head back on the road in 2020, after already checking in on some tour dates for the Jonas Brothers
Happiness Begins Tour, only this time she’s center stage.
“My goal is to reach as many people as I can and affect people in a positive way through my music,” LIVVIA advises. “There’s so much more that I want to say and do and it’s great to finally have a label partner and an incredible team to reach people just like me, who were waiting foran artist that they could relate to.”