A true Detroit darling, Olivia Millerschin describes herself as the “top end of mediocre, low end of fabulous,” yet has managed to collect accolades like most touring musicians collect parking tickets. In 2014, then eighteen-year-old Olivia won the John Lennon Valentine’s Day Songwriting Contest with her song “Screw Valentines Day” that was judged by Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas and the funkmaster himself, George Clinton.
In 2016 she played over 200 shows; she’s toured internationally with Sawyer Fredericks, Howie Day, Tyler Hilton, Ryan Cabrera and Orla Gartland, and in her spare time to she actively supports charities and organizations like Notes for Notes, an afterschool program located in major cities, including Detroit, which offers free access to music instruments and instruction.
In Olivia’s arsenal, you will find a ukulele, guitar, and piano, but her instrument of choice has always been her voice. Enjoy the chat with Olivia below.
Tell me about your work with Notes for Notes and how that came to be?
It kind of came to be through weird circumstances… I became friends with Mitch Albom who is a radio show host, writer, and philanthropist from the east coast but has lived in Detroit for a long time. I became friends with him because I was on his radio show promoting an album or something years and years ago; so, he had shared, probably in one of his Free Press articles about Note for Notes being in his boys and girls club, Notes for Notes is basically centered in one of his after school facilities, so I thought “Oh this must be one of his new non-profits and I should reach out to him about getting involved in that,” but I never did I just thought I’ll get around to it. But I ended up performing at one of his book launch events and the people from Notes for Notes were in the crowd and they reached out to me and basically said they’d love for me to come into the studio. I went in and I fell in love with it.
Describe the emotions you were experiencing before playing at the Fox Theatre for the first time?
Just terror [laughing]. I was ready for it, I feel like for the most part, I don’t get nervous unless I tell myself that “you should be nervous for this.” But for some reason, well for good reason [laughing], it was a crazy big event, I was wearing these beautiful clothes, I was up on stage next to Michael Bolton [laughing], trying to be calm and cool, so it was terrifying at first, but when I got up on stage I was with my guys, who I’ve been friends with and have been in my bands for years and it was just natural, not easy, but it felt how it was supposed to be.
You’ve had a lot of great awards and distinctions, are there any that stand out as most significant or meaningful to you?
They’re all pretty significant in their own way… but I think the John Lennon Songwriting Award was pretty cool to get an award just for my songwriting. It's beyond anything when you write something.. You’re a writer, you get it. When it comes from your own head or heart or wherever, you like it and hope other people like it and that validation is pretty cool.
Who would be your dream collaboration on stage?
Oh my goodness, wow. It’s a tie between three. John Mayer, Art Garfunkel, and Chance the Rapper. Or all three at the same time. That would be pretty cool.
Yeah, that would be quite the incident. Was Summerfest your first festival?
It was our first major festival. I had been doing tons of Midwestern festival, but that was the first one with major label acts on the bill.
What was most interesting or surprising about that experience?
It was really cool, unlike anything I’d ever been a part of. Festivals are always strange because people are coming and going and you never really know how you’re doing until you get done and you go over to the merch booth or whatever... But that was cool because we got to not only perform but got to go see all the other acts.
If you describe some elements of your perfect meal, what would they be?
Wow… I eat a lot.
That’s good, it’s healthy.
It is! It’s definitely healthy. Not eating would be terribly unhealthy. Sweet potatoes, cauliflower, some sauteed kale, and kidney beans. That would be my go to.
You play a number of instruments, what was your first and do you have one that’s a favorite or does that depend on the song, season, or day?
It changes by the season. I’ll get sick of one, then move onto the next one. This is the boring answer but I’d say that voice has always been my favorite. It’s what naturally is easy for me to study in. I never lose interest in my classical voice training.
When you’re playing a hometown show like Otus or the Fox, who are some people you think of and are thankful for where you are today?
Again, the simple answer is my family. I’ve been touring around the country since I was 15 or 16; so, I constantly think where would I be if I had different siblings or parents, so I thank my family and my extended family and my bandmates. It’s not easy to come across people who sync with you musically and in the schedule so these guys are the best.
And one of them, Bryan, works sound at Otus.
You know him? Aw, he’s the best.
Enjoy a Saturday night out with Olivia Millerschin at Otus Supply in Ferndale for her debut performance in the Parliament Room.
Saturday April 15th, 2017
$15 adv / $20 doors (GA/SRO) | 21+ | 8:00 PM