Written by Maria Arroyo
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with 21-year old singer/songwriter and absolute gem, Olivia Rubini, who recently released her debut album, Silhouettes. Currently, residing in the Delaware area, she shares how she searches deep inside herself to bring this album to life.
“I’ve been working on this album for about a year and a half, two years,” she shares. “It’s been a lot of growth and self-discovery of who I want to be as an artist and what kind of message I want to portray. Not just in my vocal style but also my lyrical style, and what kind of production I enjoy. I’ve just been gaining so much knowledge and being active in every aspect of my music, which I’ve really enjoyed because I didn’t have that before.”
She goes on to share just how incredibly important this record has been for her.
“I feel like I’m in a really good and transformative state of growth right now. It’s discovery and experimentation with different music styles and genres and fun stuff, and I’m just having a really good time being creative, so I just want to keep the wheels going!”
I learned beforehand, that Olivia’s father, Ritchie Rubini, is a producer and has been in the music business for quite some time. He produces all of her tracks, and has been her “in” as she calls, into the music industry. I was eager to find out just how much “research” she had to do in order to gain as much knowledge as she has about the business side of things.
“I kind of grew up around that kind of information,” she says. “Like, it wasn’t stockpiled on top of me when I decided to make this album.”
“So I know that in your press release, this album Silhouettes is described as your self-discovery with a lot of authenticity, which I really gravitate towards because you’re trying to learn so much about yourself,” I shared with her. “I also really liked the phrase ’emotional healing’ that was thrown in there, so I’d love to hear a little more about that if you’re willing to share.”
“I wanted it to be something as a whole that was very relatable in every aspect,” she tells me. “Not like forcibly relatable, but universal. It’s things that I’ve gone through, you probably have gone through, and others have too.”
She really digs deep when reflecting on the more personal aspects of this question.
“The first song is about self-doubting, where you’re not sure of yourself, like ‘everything’s my fault’ and blaming yourself, whereas the end of the album is very triumphant and you’re saying ‘I’m positive and I’m looking forward to the future.’ I’m just in a really different headspace than I was before, and I feel like every song in between is kind of like different emotions that I went though.”
She also talks a little more about being in that different headspace that she previously mentioned, and her battle with herself to be where she is now.
“I was able to go back to those emotions and pinpoint this and say, ‘oh yeah, I did feel that way and my feelings were valid,’ or ‘she was really doubting herself and overthinking a lot of things, but that’s how she felt at the time, and that was valid,’ even though at the time, I didn’t think they were. I can look back now after I’ve reached that positive and triumphant headspace, and realize that I wasn’t validating my own emotions, but I can do that now.”
“So with this being a very personal and vulnerable album, how would you describe the connection that you’re making with the people listening to your music?” I ask her.
“It feels a little overwhelming to be honest,” she laughs. She goes on to share that the response to Silhouettes has been so amazing, and while there doesn’t seem to be one underlying favorite among listeners, the response to each individual song has been incredibly overwhelming.
“I’ve had some people say that they’ve really been going through it, so those really emotional songs that make you want to lie in bed in the dark and be in your feelings is what they needed, and they thanked me. Maybe I’m giving somebody the validation that I didn’t have at the time, so if I’m doing some goodness by being a little bit vulnerable, that is absolutely cool with me and that just makes everything totally worth it, so it’s a win-win for everybody. Then there’s people that really needed those sassy songs because they may be single with the girls, or whatever, but there’s something for everyone.”
Something that became quite clear is her gift of being able to clearly articulate her emotions in such a way that her listeners can connect with, so naturally, we spent the majority of our time talking about that.
“Well, I didn’t want to just have a down album, but I also didn’t want to have a whole sassy album, because I don’t feel either of those ways all the time.”
She adds exactly how incredible the mountain of support has been for her.
“It’s kind of like an unexplainable feeling, like butterflies in your stomach, but also makes me want to cry,” she shares. “But I’m proud of myself for willing to get vulnerable like that because Silhouettes would definitely not be what it is without it [the support]. It’s just gratifying,” she says. “So all that soul searching I did at 3 am was all worth it!”
Another point she makes is the balance of her relationship with her dad. I thought this was a pretty cool dynamic, and was curious as to how she juggles that delicate relationship.
“We have a great dynamic, so like, thank God! I’m just really blessed because we get along really well. In general, we are both very creative, and a bit stubborn at times,” she slyly mentions. “Our work relationship works because we’re both work-oriented, a little bit hyperactive and just very driven, which is something that I definitely got from him, which I’m really thankful for. We’re always on the same wavelength and it’s like we read each other’s mind, which is kind of crazy.”
“So, how do you feel you’re able to be so open and vulnerable in your music while sharing it with him?” I ask. “I say that because I guess it could be a little intimidating and maybe awkward to share these things with him, so how are you both able to work that out?”
“He can’t make me feel self-conscious,” she shares. “I think we’ve kind of balanced out that dynamic where he’s like ‘When we’re in the studio or when you’re bringing an idea, I’m more of a co-writer and producer, not your dad.’ He’s seeing everything from a purely producer and musical standpoint, and I’m really grateful for that because if it wasn’t, things would definitely be a little bit weird.”
After talking some more about her choices for the album, which was everything from the artwork and marketing aspects to the arrangements of the music, I shared my view regarding some of the best parts of the album from a new listener’s perspective.
“I love that there isn’t this sense of false authenticity. I think the fact that you were willing to be so vulnerable for others to be able to connect with your music is so beautiful. You articulated your stories in a way that others could connect with, and I think that there’s a whole other level to being able to not only process it in a way that you understand, but express it in a way that others can as well. I think that’s such a powerful thing and you did it so well.”
I went on to explain that the reason I think people cling to music so much, is because they’re identifying with something they’re listening to. They feel that their emotions are validated and because someone else is expressing same or similar frustrations and/or hardships, it can help make the listener feel much less alone in such a big world.
“What do you hope your listeners will take away from Silhouettes?” I ask.
“I want it to be an escape, in a sense,” She begins. “Like I can be in a whole other world and I don’t have to be here. If you’re stressed out or going through it, you can just put on your headphones or your air pods, or maybe put on your speakers and you can just leave everything. I feel like that’s what I look for in music, I just want to escape my stress about what’s happening today, what’s going on tomorrow, or deadlines for assignments or whatever, and I just want to zone out and enjoy something for five minutes. That’s what I wanted to give to people and hopefully that’s something I accomplished.”
“So what really kicked this project into high gear?” I asked her curiously.
“I was able to knock it out because of quarantine,” she admitted. “It would have taken me so much longer if the pandemic didn’t happen, in like a very odd way. I got to be in the studio like every day and I’m also a college student, and doing school online while being home was nice because I didn’t have all the distractions of being away from home.
I’m like three hours away from home, so when I would write something when I was on campus, I’d have to call my dad and he’d say, ‘Hey, I did this today’ and I’d be like, ‘okay, well can you transfer it to me’ and it would make everything take so much longer. Instead, I just got to be here, be present and everything, which just made it all go much quicker.”
As we wrapped up our over an hour plus interview, I gave her the floor to update me on anything else in the works.
“Well, I’ve been doing a lot of Instagram lives and Zoom shows, and some pre-recorded things on Instagram Reels and all that stuff. I’ve been putting out a lot of content, so all my dates and everything are on my website! I might also be releasing a single or something, and there’s gonna be more stuff in the pipeline soon.”
With Silhouettes, Olivia Rubini was able to inadvertently help others through her music. Her music is wholesome, raw, and so beautifully executed, and being able to sit down and talk with her, just shows me her music is the perfect reflection of her.
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