Photo: Tiziano Lugli
LIVVIA On Quavo, Harry Potter, Meghan Trainor & Secret Agents
She may just be one of the smartest artists out there. Meet LIVVIA, singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist and a recent graduate of the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in economics.
With a drive to pursue a degree in economics to learn the ins and outs of the music business while gaining hands-on knowledge about the industry as a working artist, LIVVIA has been busy making music since 2010 when she released her debut EP, Olivia Somerlyn.
Since then she's released a string of singles, including 2014's "Parachute," 2015's "Only" 2018's "Catch A Body," featuring Migos rapper Quavo, and her most recent song, "Gratitude." She's also opened on tour for artists such as the Jonas Brothers, Meghan Trainor, Jessie J, and Lindsey Stirling.
Now that's she's finished her undergraduate degree, we caught up with the Los Angeles-based artist to ask about recording and filming the music video for her secret agent-themed "Catch A Body," found out what new music we can expect soon, got info on her favorite tour moments over the years, and talked just a little about Harry Potter.
"Catch A Body," great single. So tell us a little more about the song. What was the inspiration behind it? How did Quavo come into the mix? Tell us all about it.
At first it started with me and the producers that I've been working with a lot lately, Rock Mafia. So we're in the studio and we're writing in my what's my favorite way to write, at the moment at least, which is where we'll start with some sort of instrumental, even if it's rough. We'll all take turns going into the booth and actually just recording whatever comes to mind first and doing improv takes and then splicing those together to create a song. In one of those improv takes, somebody said, "Hold a body," and somebody else misheard and thought that she said, "Catch a body." And then I love puns, like I really love play on words, so I thought, "Oh, you know, you look so good it's killing me," and we turned the song into a concept based on that play on words, which has been so much fun. And then the music video as well plays on the themes of the song, and we did a whole secret agent concept, which was so cool to do.
Speaking of the video, I know from what I've read it's gotten a lot of positive reception for its themes of female empowerment. What was it like filming the video, and did you consider that element of girl power going into it?
Absolutely. That was definitely one of the main reasons why I wanted to do that concept, because of the girl power aspect. And for me a lot of the time I feel music to be a very visual experience as well. Whenever I listen to even other people's music I love to imagine what a music video would be for the song, and so for my songs too of course I do that as well. And so for "Catch A Body," every time I would hear the song I would picture a scene from a James Bond movie or something like that, like John Wick or Mr. & Mrs. Smith. It would obviously be a really ambitious concept so I almost didn't want to even share the idea because I thought, "This is crazy, how could we ever pull this off?"
But in passing one day I was like, "You know, in my dreams I would do a secret agent video." And so they were like, "Well maybe we can make that work." We found the perfect location, this club, which used to be an old bank vault, so it has the circular bank vault door and really cool details. It was the perfect location. And then also doing all my own stunts was really, really, really cool. And I think also since it was about girl power I was like, "No I don't want to chicken out, I want to do this," and it was super fun. Except I got so bruised. Because we're rolling in rehearsal, we have mats and everything, but then in the actual filming of the video, it's like, "No, this is a concrete floor of a club and we're rolling." He actually kicks me when he kicks me in the fight scene too, so it was crazy. But it was definitely worth it and super, super fun.
What can fans expect coming from you next musically?
I'm always working on new music. I also was in school, I just graduated from Berkeley, so I'm way more focused too now on recording new music, which has been so great to get back to the studio. I have a new song called "Gratitude," which I really, really love and it means so much to me as well. I always want to make sure that I have — as we were talking about, empowerment — an empowering and positive message in music I release, and "Gratitude" really embodies that as well. So there's that song and there's also a lot more in the works and also some collaborations that I'm really excited about. Obviously the collaboration with Quavo was a dream. He's amazing. And I'm super excited about what's to come as well.
Congratulations on graduating! I know that your degree was in economics. How did you get into that and how are you hoping it will support your music career?
A lot of people, when they hear that I'm an econ major, they're like, "Why would you do that, why didn't you study music?" But I feel like I was getting so much practical experience in the music industry being an artist myself and then being really hands-on in all aspects of my career. Econ I just think is a great base for really any career, any business, and the music industry is a business, it's not just creative. So it's already been helpful, I think, just to have that knowledge. And I think any kind of educational pursuit is helpful in writing as well, just opening your mind to different ideas and history, economic history. I just think it all relates and it's just a good exercise for your brain in general. But you know, I wrote a paper one time on the economics behind Spotify and stuff like that, so I've been trying to mix the two a little bit. But I guess I chose econ initially because I know I do want to get my MBA one day, and econ is a really great base to have for that as well. So that'll be the next academic goal.
We've also read that you've toured with Jessie J, Meghan Trainor, the Jonas Brothers. Is there a favorite tour moment that you want to share or is it too hard to pick?
It's so hard to pick because they were just obviously all amazing, and I just had the absolute time of my life on all of those tours. Meghan actually brought me out onstage. It was my birthday and it was our last show and we were actually in Milan, and it was amazing. So she brought me onstage and sang happy birthday to me, which was just obviously the most memorable birthday moment of all time. But everything, also the Jonas Brothers. I was a huge Jonas Brothers fan, so opening for them at the Gibson Amphitheater [in Los Angeles] back when it wasn't torn down for Hogwarts. As a Harry Potter fan, if it's going to be torn down and you're going to build Hogwarts over it, that's probably the only thing I would approve of. But I had seen them perform there with all my friends only a few years before that and then my friends came and saw me opening for them on the same stage and that's a surreal moment. Jessie J as well, she's just so incredible. Just watching her perform every night, she improvs so much. Being able to see her live every night was incredible. They're all great. There's just too many moments to count.
Harry Potter. We're going there. What's your favorite magical creature from the series and why?
Oh my gosh, it's so hard. I love them all. Off the top of my head I'm going to say Nifflers, which actually are the little furry creatures that love shiny things. If they were here they would probably be attacking me because of my rings, which are, speaking of which, Gryffindor rings, the lions. But I really would pick Nifflers because they came to fame a little bit more because of the Fantastic Beast movies and they got their moment in the sun. But I love them. I always love them because I always call my dog a Niffler 'cause he's a Yorkie. He's a little furry creature.