The first time I came into contact with Olivia and the Creepy Crawlies was 2 or 3 years ago at the Bovine Sex Club during indie week. At the time I was a social media volunteer and was there to cover a friend’s band as well as the whole show. When they took the stage I went from waiting for my friend’s band to finally play, to locked into focus with the performers on stage. Every song felt like a twist or turn into a new journey that I couldn’t help but shimmy too. I don’t normally dance at shows that I’m attending by myself but I really couldn’t stand still. After their performance I asked their name for clarification for Indie Weeks’ social media but it was more so I could look them up later. Since then I’ve followed them on Facebook, seeing them grow travel and start their world domination.
When I created this project they were one of the bands that came to my mind. I thought back to that night and how much I generally enjoyed their performance but also the vibe of the band. They were also highly recommended by a few of our past Inspirational Songstress’.
On one of the first cold days of November, I sat down with lead vocalist/ukulele player Olivia and drummer Aurora in Olivia’s bedroom where I asked them these questions…
Inspirational Songstress: How would you describe your music?
Olivia: We get asked this a lot. I feel like I’m always struggling to find the exact thing. I guess we’ve been calling it folk pop. I’d say with some fairly heavy old timey vibes, some country flair recently.
Aurora: People like to call it whimsical. It’s a descriptive word we find in many write ups about us.
O: I feel like in every single write up it says ‘quirky folk’ somewhere. We’ve been pretty much calling it folk pop. I’m personally really influenced by a lot of old music; a lot of old country is my main jam. I find it leaks its way into the writing too, as of late.
A: In my opinion the lyrics are intricate like a folk song, but then some of the hooks are catchy like a pop song.
IS: How would you define confidence & what does it mean to you?
A: Confidence for me is when you’re doing something that you worked hard for and you feel good about doing it. You feel like you’re happy with yourself and your performing and you feel like everyone else is happy with what you’re doing. It reflects on your performance because it shows in your energy.
O: It’s like being totally happy doing something that you love. For me confidence is also, if we’re talking more in a physical sense, really focusing on being kind to my body and to myself- that lets me gain a lot of confidence. Just feeling good.
IS: Do you feel more confident on stage or off?
O: Defiantly for me, onstage. I used to get really nervous before performing, but now I don’t really think about it anymore it kind of just happens. Especially when I get really into a song I’m singing and I’m feeling super emotionally connected. I kind of forget, not my band, but that the audience is there. I forget everything else is there. It puts me in this totally free state. That’s where I feel most confident.
A: For me, definitely on stage as well. Off stage you have more time to stir and think about your parts, technique and motion. When you’re on stage you’re like ‘This is it! There’s people here, they seem to be enjoying it!” It’s really more so the people that give that sort of comfortable feeling. We’ve been lucky enough that we’ve never been booed on stage, that’s nice. No one’s ever been like ‘You Suck!’ Thank god. We generally get more positive feedback from the audience, but of course constructive criticism comes around, which is useful if you don’t take it too personally.
O: Ya we’re pretty blessed to feed off of each others energy and to feed off of everybody’s energy. That’s a really nice thing
IS: There’s nothing worse than a dead crowd. The one guy in the back’s feeling it but everybody else is like cool, I’m here for the next band haha
A: We’ve defiantly had dead crowds but no one’s ever been like ‘Well that sucked’ haha. No one’s ever boo’d us off, I’ve never felt bad about that.
IS: Where does your strength come from to share your art?
O: I guess for me writing the songs, my strength comes from me being so emotionally connected to the lyrics. Most of my songs are extremely personal, almost all of them are autobiographical or about certain moments in my life. Where I’ve been crazy happy, or crazy sad. I think that’s where it comes from for me, cause song writing is an extremity cathartic experience I find and it feels good for me to sometimes get those things off my chest. I feel proud, and I want to share these feelings with people around me. Maybe there are people who are feeling them too or they need to hear this at this point in their lives. That’s where I get that from.
A: Maybe not such an emotional answer for myself. I don’t write lyrics. I play the drums so my strength would come from a different viewpoint or inspiration. My family is super supportive so that gives me strength to do what I do. My brother kind of taught me the simple start of drums which got me going. Seeing other bands I’ll think ‘I want to do what that band does. I need to get better at what I’m doing.’
IS: What is your first memory of feeling musically confident?
O: I think I would have been about 4 or 5 years old. The song ‘My Heart Will Go On’ by Céline Dion was my jam, this was my song. I felt like this song is written for me, this song was made for me. I used to stand at the top of my stairs in my house in Guelph and just belt this song out at the top of my lungs. No matter what time it was, if it was first thing in the morning or when I should have been in bed I was just standing there belting this song. I think I peaked back then to be honest haha. I think that was my peak and it’s just all down hill now. My sister would be like ‘Shut up! I’m trying to sleep! I’m going to squash you like a pancake!” I just didn’t care I was like ‘you know what? I’m doing my thing and you guys are gonna listen because this is my song.’ I think that was defiantly my most confident moment.
A: Probably in high school, which ironically was the time I had zero confidence in any other category. Being a girl drummer had its advantages, with the stereotypical response at that age being ‘Oh a girl drummer! I didn’t know girls could play drums!’ I’ll get that on occasion these days, not as often as I’m sure it was for females a decade or two ago. It’s definitely getting better. I always just have to assume they’re ignorant. But in high school I grew up in Oshawa, which is metal city. I hung out with all the metal heads in high school. With the excitement of being a female drummer, I’d get invited out to jams. Even though I wasn’t very skilled at that point. It was flattering though and definitely brought encouragement and confidence my way. I was always like; people want to play music with me. That’s so awesome. And that was probably the start of it for me.
IS: Why did you pick this location? What about it is special to you?
O: This is my place. I spend so much time here horizontal with my ukulele in hand just playing my favorite songs. Ive been keeping a journal for so many years, thoughts and emotions are poured out here, I pretty much eat all my meals here. It’s obviously such a comfortable place for me. Full of all my teachers and all my favorite things. Had some happy times in here, had some not so happy times in here. It feels like a place that’s totally mine. I pretty much write all my songs in my room. It’s the place where I feel most like me I guess.
IS: What’s your biggest battle in keeping the confidence and the battle to keep it growing?
A: For me it’s my own mind. If I’m playing a show and I feel like I didn’t perform very well, I instantly lose confidence. Despite audience members applauding my efforts, in my head I’m thinking ‘that sucked, I messed up all these parts. I brought the band in the wrong direction for this. What a bummer.’ So to not put myself so down after a messy show is what I would say. You have to learn from those mistakes. Not hating on myself when I miss a beat. It’s going to happen and hopefully it doesn’t happen often. When it does don’t beat yourself up over it.
O: I totally agree. To add onto that as a songwriter, writers block is such a big one for my confidence. I have these periods where I won’t write a song for three to six months, and the entire time I’m sitting there thinking ‘I’m shit, I’m never going to write a song again.’ Everything I try to write I think ‘this is garbage’, I throw out so much. That’s a really big one for me. I guess the way I combat that is, if I’m going though a period or if I’m having writers block I’ll still write down every single little lyrical idea that I have. Even if it’s just two lines or a little piece of something. Then I’ll go back maybe about a month later and revisit my phone memo’s or revisit my song book and sometimes I’ll actually be able to draw inspiration from those little one liners I’ve written. Sometimes I’ll be able to build a song out of that which is super cool. I’ll be able to revisit a chorus I wasn’t able to write a good verse for and that’s a really cool thing. Making something good out of those things that I thought ‘This is horrible!’ Sometimes to revisit it with a fresh mind really helps. Writers block sucks! Sometimes if I tell myself ‘Oh you have writers block!’ it makes it worse. It creates more barriers in my mind and it’s like, don’t say it don’t say those words.
IS: When you’re performing, what makes you feel most powerful?
A: My strength. Unleashing onto the drums can be such an adrenalin rush. As lame as that sounds, that’s my answer. Just hitting the drums, it’s a physical strength. it’s not a mental strength. Most of our songs are pretty light, but we also have some heavy hitters where it’s appropriate to hit the drums, hard.
O: I really don’t wanna sound cheesy and I try not to. It’s my voice, it’s being able to share my songs with people, share my thoughts and feelings about things. Being able to convey the messages that I want to convey on stage, that makes me feel pretty powerful. Being able to belt out these songs that came from inside my brain is pretty nuts. It’s a pretty cool feeling. That and wearing a real awesome outfit, that makes me feel pretty powerful. If I pick out a cool outfit I know I look really cool, that makes me feel good!
IS: Who is your female inspiration? Musician or not.
A: Courtney Barnett. She’s my favourite in the world! Her songs are so different from any songs I’ve ever heard. It’s almost like she’s not singing in her songs, it’s like she’s having a conversation with you, and that’s really cool. She also plays her guitar without a pick AND left handed so everything she does is way too cool and I love it. I play guitar as well but it’s not my main instrument. Her style tends to rub off on me.
O: I love that stream of consciousness that she does where she’s just kinda rambling. My main women’s Patsy Cline. My lady. I love her so much, she’s so cool and she was so committed to her art and I love that. There are videos of her and stories about her performing on stage and being so into what she was singing and so connected, that she would just break down into tears onstage. Apparently it would happen like all the time, and I think that’s so cool to be so emotionally connected. Also, Angel Olsen, I love her. I find she has this thing where her voice can sound super raw and super powerful at the same time. It’s a really cool ability she has.
A: I thought you were going to say Feist.
O: Oh ya I do love Feist, I really do. I think maybe 4 or 5 years ago I would have been like Feist hands down. I’m not saying I don’t love her, but I think since growing up and discovering old country music…
IS: You’re in a different part of your life. Feist helped you when you were in that point of your life and now you’re in a different section of your life.
O: Ya! I’m growing!
IS:What has been your biggest personal confidence set back? Did it help or hurt your music?
A: One time I started jamming with a new band I wanted to be a part of, but after a couple weeks I was replaced. I was like ‘FUCK!’ I really wanted to be a part of that. Everything was fine though. I’m actually in a band with half those guys now anyways. It did suck though, I had told my folks already and then a couple weeks went by and it was no longer something I was a part of. There were a few things that factored into it. During a prime time I got sick and I disappeared for a day and then the next day I just never heard back from them. It was during college and I had found another project to be a part of a week later which was nice. It was with some great friends and it was still a lot of fun. Not something I’m a part of anymore, actually it’s not something that exists anymore.
IS: What do you think is the most important thing to remember as a female musician?
A: Not to identify yourself as a female musician, you’re just a musician. Don’t categorise yourself that way as if it’s less significant.
O: Your career and what you’re doing is valid and important. There’s no need to call ourselves like, female drummers.
A: A man would never say ‘I’m a male drummer! We’re in a male band! I’m a male guitar player!’ No it’s, I’m a drummer, I’m in a band, I’m a guitar player. I’ve never really thought about it like that, I don’t say I’m a chick drummer I just say I’m a drummer. But other people will say that to describe who I am.
O: I feel like it’s important to remember that you’re competent. I find experiences where I felt like talked down too. Almost in a you’re a child kind of way.
IS: Especially tech stuff. You try to touch something and they’re like um it’s ok
O: We went to school for this shit! The being talked down to thing is so frustrating. It’s like look, I’m not a child I’m not dumb I know what I’m doing. We’ve been a band for four years I think we know what we’re doing, I’ve been singing for 15 years. It almost feels like they wouldn’t question it if you were a guy.
A: We practice in a paid space every week. Often when just the girls show up first they’ll check in to see if we need help.
O: They’ll check like ‘do you need anything?’
A: I can plug a chord in! If we need help we’ll ask. I like to do all my heavy lifting myself. It’s a pride thing. When people offer to help or just help out of good will I do appreciate it so much. I don’t so much enjoy the lifting, but I do certainly take pride in being responsible for myself. Insert independent woman quote here. *Snaps fingers*
IS: It’s like, I’ve paid a lot of money for this amp or this piece of equipment and if I mess this up I wanna mess this up myself.
A: I appreciate the help, but I feel better about myself when I just do it, because I can.
O: It’s your gear.
IS: If you could go back to a time where you felt taken back by whatever obstacle, what would you tell yourself knowing what you know now?
A: I used to post drum covers on YouTube. One of them in particular hit it big with over 1 million views. This was great, but if you scroll down to the comments, that’s where it hurts. Lots of pretty gross comments about my appearance, keeping in mind that I was a 15 year old child, essentially. And then between those comments you’d have the people commenting about how bad the performance was etc. It’s tough to not let the trolls get to you. Looking back I would just tell myself that none of those people matter. I’ll most likely never see any of them face to face, and they’ll most likely be cowards behind their screens for the rest of their lives, so I’ve got them beat there.
O: I feel like I would tell myself something that my mom always says to me but did not sync in at the time, or would not have sunk in. My mom always tells me the pendulums gotta swing, so if times seem really bad she always tells me it’s always going to swing back to being ok. I don’t know if that sounds hokey or not but that’s it honestly. Thinking about that now with the knowledge I have now I defiantly would tell myself, listen to that don’t be like ‘no that doesn’t make sense that’s not going to happen.’ I would tell myself, listen to your mother. Because it’s true, it’s always a balance. I find whenever things get really bad it always seems to spring back up again. It’s weird, it seems really weird.
IS: Do you have a message you hope to send to people who see you live or listen to your recordings?
A: I’m here to play some drums! Love it or hate it! Haha
O: I love it! What I was gonna say is not that cool! Haha. I was gonna say, have a cup of tea and relax. Cause honestly from the get go when I first started writing songs when I was a lot younger, I was like ‘I wanna make music that people can drink tea to!’ This is my goal. I want people to be able to sit, have a nice cup of tea what ever your favorite tea is for me it’s earl grey, and just feel relaxed and feel happy.
A: Our answers are so different, but different because you’re more emotionally attached to the songs with them bring your words. Where as I am the musician who plays to your songs.
IS: I don’t know. I think when I sing backup or when I do back up things, I think it’s just as powerful as the person that wrote the song. You attribute so much, especially as the drummer, you attribute so much to the mood and the feeling and the vibe and the stance of the song. If the drummer is off everyone knows it, and that’s it everyone’s done.
O: Man Aurora you’re the heart beat! It’s so important.
IS: You can build it up or you can break it down.
O: And you do such cool shit, you and your bells.
IS: What’s your advice for other women, young or old, who struggle with confidence?
O: One of the first points I’ll make, you can never own too many floral dresses. No matter what people say. That’s kind of a joke but also serious.
Is: If that’s where you derive your confidence from, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
A: Mine is more cliché, don’t hold back on just being who you are. As lame as that sounds. Especially growing up, going through high school I tried so many different faces, trying a different image constantly to try and fit in. Eventually I just had to tell myself to like stop brushing my hair and wear those ripped jeans for crying out loud. That’s what I wanted to do, so I should just do it. By the time you get to college, or are out of college, you’ll find your niche and who mesh’s with you and who doesn’t and by that point no one else matters and nothing else matters. The end.
O: As long as you’re happy right? It really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.
A: Its harder when you’re younger for sure. Though when you’re older it can also be difficult if you haven’t quite figured yourself out yet. When you’re younger it’s hard because there’s so much peer pressure when you’re around 1000 people everyday at school and you don’t know what to do. You want to try to fit in and have 20,000 friends and what not but in the end you’re not going to be happy unless your doing what you want to do, and being who you want to be sort of thing.
O: I also wanna add as a piece of advice, if you’re giving your bangs a trim and you accidently cut them too short, just ride it out. Rock it! Give it two weeks and they’re gonna be right where you want them. Don’t let that ruin your life, ‘cause that’s happened to me before where I gave myself a trim and they ended up like up here. It’s not the end of the world, hair grows back.
IS: I totally get that. Hair is super important for my confidence, the colour and cut. I can’t have short hair.
A: I just cut all my hair off a month ago. My hair was long for as long as I can remember, I’ve never had short hair.
IS: Do you like it?
A: I like it cause it’s super easy to manage, if I was younger I would totally hate it cause I’d be like ‘I’m a mushroom!’ I kind of teared up a little bit, but I was like ‘pull yourself together! It’s just hair!’
IS: It’s such a security blanket.
O: I’m the exact opposite. If I’m feeling crappy I’ll give myself a hair cut. If I’m feeling crappy I’m like my hairs too long, I could go shorter.
Find out more about Olivia and the Creepy Crawlies on their website: https://www.oliviaandthecreepycrawlies.com