Exclusive: Olivia Castriota on “Weekend Lover”

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Olivia Castriota has a darn incredible voice and a darn incredible personality. What a pleasure it was to speak with her about new music and NYC hotspots.

What is the story behind “Weekend Lover?”

It all started when I was in the shower messing around with some melodies, and I finally landed on one I loved. I reached for my phone to record it but quickly realized it was in the kitchen. I sprinted to the kitchen soaking wet with shampoo still in my hair and grabbed the goods, then made my way back to the shower and finalized a nice recording of the chorus with soothing running water in the background. From there I took my voice memo to a writing session in Brooklyn with Steve Danielsson and Zach Berkman, of Razor & Tie Music Publishing. I then worked with an amazing production team in New Jersey, TheChemistri, to put all the pieces together. I also brought in the fiercely talented, Camille Trust, for main vocal coaching and background vocals… and BAM, we had a vintage soul banger on our hands.

This song is inspired by a relationship that’s completely predictable. Being with someone whose every single move can be anticipated; feeling like you want to live this spontaneous life but yet you’re totally consumed, in the best way possible, by this unwavering person. The Weekend Lover in the song is the King of Consistency, sweet and dependable like coffee and pancakes on a Sunday morning. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t… but you’re in love and you kind of like it.

Are there any plans for more singles, an EP or full-length album?

Absolutely!! I feel like I’ve been in hiding for the past year and I’m finally ready to show everyone what I’ve been up to! This year I have been working with loads of new people; I’ve worked with producers in LA, NY, NJ, and Toronto. We have so much material to give to the world, and I’m planning to just keep releasing singles until you get sick of me.

How have you evolved since your previous release “All At Once”?

Making my first album ‘All At Once’ was such a great learning experience. I grew up performing and I was always surrounded by music. After college, I moved from small town PA to NYC to keep chasing my dreams of becoming a musician. I quickly became wrapped up in paying bills and working a 9-5 office job. After too many days of asking myself “what am I doing here?” I decided to pull the plug, and I began to give myself pep talks on the regular, “Olivia you can sing! You’re a boss! What are you doing? Get out there and make it happen.” So, that’s exactly what I did.

Ask any musician and they’ll tell you, if they could re-do their first album, there are 100 things they would do differently, but that’s just how it goes. I’m proud that I made an album, and put it out in the world, but I’ve grown a lot as a musician since then. I can do things with my voice now that I couldn’t do then. I have better resources such as professional producers, I have greater access to the songwriting community, the networking skills of a bad bitch, and a crew of super talented creative friends who support me unconditionally. The most important thing for me was getting over being nervous that I wasn’t worthy, and realizing I belong in this music community too. I owned my place and was able to really grow and develop musically once that mental shift happened.

You’ve played The Apollo 5 times! Incredible. What has that experience taught you?

I love performing at the Apollo. It’s absolutely terrifying in the best way possible; it makes me feel so vulnerable yet so powerful. People from every walk of life compete in Amateur Night and it’s amazing to see the crowd’s reaction. Singing at the Apollo teaches you a good lesson in ‘you should never judge a book by it’s cover.’ The audience wants a show so you really have to bring it, show them that you belong on that stage.

At what moment did you realize you wanted to make a career out of music?

I’ve always wanted to do this for a living, it’s been my dream ever since I can remember. The daily vocal warm-ups and the band rehearsals, finding the perfect stage heels, crafting the perfect topknot, and applying the most vibrant shade of purple lipstick I can find. Popping my favorite Ricola cough drop in my mouth 20 minutes before curtain and the pep talks I give myself in the bathroom mirror. I love the heat from the lights, the stage, the cameras, the roaring crowd, the smooth electric slides on the guitar and the percussion that forms the rhythm. When I open my mouth to sing and watch the mood shift, it’s incredible. Receiving the energy, the love and the appreciation that crowd gives you and knowing that for 60 minutes you gave them a piece of yourself that you’ll never get back. I never want that feeling to go away.

We don’t have to tell you that you have an incredible voice. What do you do to make sure you always sound amazing?

Oh my gosh, stop it! No, actually keep going!! Well, thank you so much for that. Like I mentioned, I keep my voice active with lots of vocal warm ups, lots of pep talks in the mirror before shows and an excessive amount of cough drops. Seriously, it’s just one after another for a straight 20 minutes before show time. Ricola should sponsor me!

Did you ever consider Broadway?

Absolutely, but I quickly reconsidered it. Broadway is a cut throat world full of triple threats and unfortunately I have a total of two dance moves; the two-step with a fierce snap and a face framing finger vogue (which you will see a lot of in my new video for ‘Weekend Lover”). It would never workout for me on Broadway. I’ll stick to being a fierce single threat!

You have an incredible foodie blog so we have to ask: What NYC hotspots do we all need to check out?

Oh WOW. You’ve done your research!! Yes, Confessions of a Hungry White Girl was once a thriving NYC Food Blog. Now, it’s something I do for fun just on Facebook. But eating is still a major passion of mine! Here are my top 5 NYC picks: Artichoke Pizza (Vodka Pizza), Ludlow Coffee Supply (Salted Caramel Latte), The Bakeshop By Whoops (White Chocolate Pecan Cookie), Hummus Kitchen (literally anything on the menu), and Taqueria Diana (Pork Nachos). I’ll gladly take you on a food tour, just call me.