When it comes to writing and performing country music, JoLivi draws inspiration from her laid-back Hawaiian upbringing. Hooked on the genre from a young age, she moved to LA to pursue music full-time, and was soon opening for artists like Andy Grammer, Gavin DeGraw, and Lindsey Stirling.
The release of four singles attracted more than 670K views on YouTube and 20K streams on Spotify. Now residing in Nashville, she’s working closely with Johnny Garcia (Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood), and has released two country singles, Take a Shot and Crooked Crown.
She chatted with Script & Sound Magazine’s Megan Gnad about her latest single Vinyl, and what it’s like to represent Hawaii in the country music landscape.
Congratulations on the new single, Vinyl. What does the song mean to you, and what's been the reaction, so far?
Thank you. I wanted to put out a song that had nothing to do with heartbreak. A song about experiencing moments that are classic and unfiltered. The reaction has been amazing. Family, friends, and fans are loving the vibe.
Did you co-write with Mark McKee?
I sure did.
What was the message you wanted to get across?
To live in the now, the present. To not take everything so seriously and let yourself go in the moment.
How is it different to your previous releases?
The song is not about a relationship that I've had. It's about an experience I want to have.
Where did you record, and what was the production process like?
I recorded the track both in Los Angeles and Nashville. There's so much that goes into writing and producing. After Mark and I wrote the song he come back to me with a very rough-cut demo, and then we build onto it. Mark is a genius in that department, so I just let him take full reign. Then we build layers of vocals, harmonies and doubles so that we get that full, rich sound.
As one of the only Hawaiian artists in country music, do you think you bring a different perspective to country, and in the way you work?
I definitely draw inspiration from my Hawaiian upbringing. The raw and authentic Hawaiian music I grew up listening to, and the laid-back lifestyle, has shaped me into the artist and person I am today.
What is the music scene - particularly roots and country - like in Hawaii at the moment?
The music scene is a constant. Besides the traditional Hawaiian music, we also have Jawaiian music, which is a Hawaiian style of reggae music. Hawaii is almost like a mini-Nashville. There's always music playing somewhere.
Where did your love of country music develop, and who were your early inspirations?
Growing up, my mother had a great deal of CDs ranging from all genres and styles of music. As a child I found myself drawn to the stories of country music. From James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt, to Kris Kristofferson, Dolly Parton, Brooks & Dunn, George Strait, Patsy Cline, Trisha Yearwood, and the list goes on.
You've opened for Andy Grammer and Gavin DeGraw. What have those experiences taught you, and what did you learn from those artists?
Those experiences were so humbling and a little overwhelming - in a good way. Andy is without a doubt one of the most talented musician/singer-songwriters I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. Opening for two incredible artists, who have such an amazing fanbase, makes me look to the future of touring in a different light.
I know you've received a lot of traction sharing music on social media platforms, what does the instant response mean to you? And, how does it help you connect with your fans?
My fans are my main priority. I write my music so that it could help someone feel something the way music has always been for me. The biggest compliment you could ever receive as a singer-songwriter, is that your song and your lyrics affected someone positively.
Now you're based in Nashville, how has the songwriting community helped your craft? Who are you co-writing with at the moment? Who would you love to work with?
Yes, by a long shot. I've never seen so many people constantly going out and listening to music. Either at a writers’ round, or an open mic. People in Nashville are so flippin’ awesome at supporting each other. It's so refreshing. I'd love to co-write with so many people...Kelly Archer, Sara Haze, Who Is Fancy... The list goes on forever!
What are your goals now, and what do you have planned next? Can we look forward to a full-length album?
The goal right now is to work on going on the road. I love touring and want to get back to the performing aspect of my career. I have a few songs that I'm finishing at the moment, so should have something coming very soon.