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Olivia Lunny On Health, Wellness, and Heartbreak

The rising pop artist is growing up and into her artistry on her self-titled debut.

by Frankie Ryott

It’s summertime in Toronto and Olivia Lunny is relaxing at home in her apartment. Bright faced and beaming, the young songwriter has just completed her morning routine, which almost always consists of yoga or a quick rip on her Peloton bike. Daily routines were once a distant dream for travelling musicians, but the songwriter is grateful to have been able to take the last year off to connect with herself. Whether that has been through meditation, maintaining an active lifestyle, or perfecting her smoothie game, Lunny is radiating positivity.

Over the course of the last year, Lunny has immersed herself in the sanctuary of her studio to create vulnerable but vibrant electropop tracks for her self-titled debut album. In a time where many people’s momentum may have stalled, the rising musician has propelled forward. Alongside her upbeat and bubbly personality paired with her infectious sound, it’s no surprise that she’s being labelled as an artist to watch and the next big thing in Canadian pop music. 

What makes Lunny so likeable is that she comes from such a humble and relatable beginning. Let’s rewind to 2011 where a 12-year-old Lunny is sitting in the back seat of her dad’s car as they drive home from school through the urban streets of Winnipeg. Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” and Katy Perry’s “Firework” are rolling around the charts but instead they are jamming to the classic rock riffs of The Eagles and singing along with the enchanting vocals of Norah Jones. Once home, Lunny goes to her room, picks up her guitar and writes out how she feels. This is the unearthing of a hobby that would soon become her life passion.

“I remember in high school, if I had a bad day I’d go home, pick up my guitar and write. That was my therapy. I feel like every time I’ve experienced some sort of relationship, issue, or event, whether that’s with my family or with a significant other, I’ve always looked to music to figure out how I’m feeling. You know, sometimes it’s like, I’m feeling upset, but what am I feeling upset about? And I pick up that guitar and I write a song and I go, ‘okay, in retrospect, I guess this is how I’m feeling,’ which is a really interesting way of connecting deep with your subconscious.”

By 19, Lunny had played the songs she wrote in her bedroom to more than 40 thousand people at the Winnipeg Folk Festival, independently released her first EP, and received a Western Canadian Music Award nomination. Not long after she was singing a Justin Bieber cover to the judges on CTV’s The Launch, a show that she went on to win before producing her first Top 40 track, “I Got You.” The experience, according to Lunny, is what pushed her to arrive at the place where she is today. “Since The Launch I’ve really just grown into my artistry. I know what I want my music to sound like, I know what I want to write about. And going into that experience. I’m still a fairly new artist, but I was like fresh new then. I think I’ve definitely grown into myself.” 

So what happens when a flourishing artist takes the lyricism of indie folk, the beat of electro and the catchy rhythm of pop and blends it up? Lunny has the answer. Exemplified in the eight tracks of her upcoming release she serves up a sound that is both insanely addictive and purposefully emotional, one she hopes listeners can not only resonate to but also have fun with. “I love the energy that’s in electro pop because you can create songs that have lots of depth and sadness in them and then you can oomph them up with an exciting beat and vibrancy. Instead of just releasing songs that are me crying with a guitar, I wanted to take that content and make it super fun and kind of ironic. We are all going through this human experience. You can feel confident and like you’re on top of the world, but then you can be heartbroken and it’s just this mess of emotions. I think I’ve tried to take that mess and paint it into a really pretty picture and I hope listeners can resonate with that.”  

Not limiting herself to one kind of genre, Lunny’s music jumps from slow power ballads to  energetic confident bops that will have you playfully dancing while singing out loud. Layered among the fun wordplay of her songs are bouts of trickling guitar, a somewhat subtle nod to her beginnings flashing back to her younger self playing guitar in her bedroom. Looking forward, Lunny has taken this opportunity to take command of her future, showcasing who she is as a person and the diverse artist she is continuing to grow into.