Today we are interviewing our very own Eden Oliver. Eden is a multi-instrumentalist, a singer-songwriter, a certified BC teacher, and the lead singer in ‘West My Friend’ band.
Q: Please tell us about your beginning. How did you deal with challenges, the need to practice and where did you get your motivation to practice from when you started?
A: My mom is a musician. She sings and plays guitar and has since I was really little. So I grew up going to music festivals and concerts and seeing her on stage, feeling really proud, and listening to her play music around the house and her playing music for me. So that was a really strong anchor or starting point for my musical development. And I sang with her a lot as a kid too—we would just sing rounds or songs, which is really how I developed my singing voice by singing with her in this natural, folky sort of way.
But then of course music programs at school helped a lot. I started studying flute in grade 6 when I was able to join band and I studied flute all throughout high school. I picked up saxophone as well and joined choirs, jazz band, the musical… dug into all of that stuff. I found that a really helpful thing because it was free aside from needing a flute, and we didn’t have a lot of money. When I got to grade 10 I started to be able to take private lessons because I got a job. Taking those flute lessons really helped me on my path to going to university and studying flute and music education. And then things blossomed from there!
When it comes to my need to practice? I often found (and I still find) that I’d practice for any sort of social music making scenario. Scenarios where I’m going to be performing solo sometimes, but often with groups. I want to bring my best to any musical endeavour. And then I also “practice” music or work on developing my skills when I’m writing music. I often find that a big motivator because I often write songs that I can’t quite play yet. There are ideas in my head and I gain skills in order to be able to put them out into the world.
Q: What is your favourite thing about being a musician?
A: My favourite thing about being a musician is writing music. I love playing around with melodies and chords and sort of mulling things over and playing them a thousand times—trying little variations and geeking out about it. I love the spontaneous ideas and connections and creations that happen when you put the blender on high and let your subconscious go when it comes to lyrics and melody. And I really like crafting lyrics and revising and editing them over and over again.
I also love all of the other awesome things about being a musician like connecting with people and your audiences, making a difference in peoples’ lives, travelling, and the semi-flexible scheduling and freedoms that come with being a musician.
Q: What is the one thing you wish you had known when you started? One tip 🙂
A: This is maybe not a conventional answer to this question, but: I wish I had known how much being an independent musician is about running your own business (or running a business with a group in my case) and how much WORK that is. And how much motivation it takes. I have some background and training in that kind of organization because I’m a teacher, so I’m not unfamiliar with crazy hours and lots of work being put into endeavours, but you know all through music school, all through high school, it never really came up that YOU’VE got to get those people out to the show, you’ve got to make that album happen, you’ve got to make that video happen… And that it’s all about you organizing and connecting with people and spending a lot of time on the computer. So I wish I had known that. Just because I could have started picking up those skills in advance, not because I would have chosen not to do it.
Q: Who would you most like to play with?
A: I would pick Joanna Newsom because I love her writing so much. And it actually isn’t that I would like to play music with (although that would be great) but I would actually want to write music with her and workshop it with her. That would be great!
Q: Who inspires you musically and personally?
A: Joanna Newsom! Other musicians include Owen Pallet, the Tuneyards, The Books… Basically anything where people are doing something different and getting really intricate and geeking out about what they’re doing. Also obviously people I already play music with, such as the people in my band West My Friend, amongst others.
Q: What do you wish for yourself?
A: I think when I look at my career and everything I’m doing in my life the thing I wish for myself is basically to write more and more music and to write more different kinds of music. To expand into different areas. I’m really interested in choral writing (I did a little bit of that recently), learning about arranging, writing for different types of groups, writing with technologies such as loops pedals and that kind of thing. That’s what I wish for myself, and then performing those pieces, or finding people to perform them, and engaging with other musicians.