“Really outstanding” – Bob Boilen, NPR Music
SEATTLE (January 23, 2023) – Seattle indie folk musician, Ollella, releases the single “Head in the Clouds” on February 21. The first single off her debut album, “Back Back Back,” reflects the album’s theme of trusting your gut despite messaging that may direct you otherwise. The song serves as a call to action for others to do the same. “Back Back Back” is due out on April 7.
“Head in the Clouds” explores the dynamics of listening in our contemporary culture. Ollella says, “The verses speak to my own pivot towards music: how I kept feeling unsettled where I was in life because I wasn’t following the little voice in my gut to pursue full-time artistry.” She applies this to our fast-paced world, touching on disengagement through distraction and themes of social justice. In the chorus, “Nobody seems to listen / volume’s too loud” references how it can be hard to listen to not just ourselves, but also each other, in a busy and distractible society. The following lyrics, “It’s easier, it’s convenient / with your head up in the clouds,” expands on this idea, recognizing that ignorance is sometimes the path of least resistance. She wrote it while reflecting on the racial justice uprisings during the COVID-19 pandemic – how so many people finally had the time and space to pay attention to what was happening around them.
The song’s contrast and rise in volume mimic the search for the silence necessary to listen amidst all the noise. A sonic hum of textured beeps and boops opens “Head in the Clouds,” as the introduction of Ollella’s vocals constitutes that delicate balance of opposition. A little gasp of air caught between the vocal loops is an invitation to come up for air while sifting through the world’s noise.
A courage of conviction, on “Back Back Back” Ollella’s lyrics explore triumph amid adversity, while innovative instrumentals push the boundaries of the conventional. The title “Back Back Back” refers to the process Ollella went through to find permission within herself to pursue music full-heartedly as a solo artist after working in the climate change field. Previously, she had worked at a research institute that gave her flexibility to perform with her band on weekends, but her gut was left unsettled.
Accompanying Ollella (cello, vocals, tenor guitar) on the album is Jordan Cunningham (Rogue Wave, Delta Spirit, Tom Waits) as producer, Emily Silks (they/them) on percussion, and Forrest Marowitz (he/him) on bass and some guitar. Cunningham (he/him) played all other instruments on the album, including (but not limited to) electric guitar, slide guitar, sonic textures, and organ.
“Back Back Back” Track Listing
- Back Back Back
- Head In The Clouds
- Test Of Time
- Tea Kettle Tea
- Don’t Lie
- Can I Tell You?
- Knew It All Along
Ollella’s career as a musician started early when she sang before she could talk. Trained as a classical cellist since the age of nine, the Seattle indie-folk musician merges her technical background with authoritative vocals, live-looping, and improvisation. Described as “really outstanding” by NPR Music’s Bob Boilen and “so tastefully done” by Michelle Zauner (AKA Japanese Breakfast), Ollella blends the acoustic with the contemporary, folk with pop, and tenacity with softness, pulling on influences such as Feist, Cat Power, and Jesca Hoop. Her playing has been featured in films screened at Film Festivals such as Sundance and Aspen Film Fest, on recordings with others, including Grammy-winning artist Peter Kater, and has shared the stage with popular Americana acts such as the Shook Twins and Rising Appalachia. She finds herself drawn to music because it unlocks a particularly organic flavor of humanity – one that fits the type of world she believes in.
“I’ve always known [Ollella] to be an exceptional cello player, but the songwriting – wow”
– Cody Lee , 88.3 KDNK Music Director
“Wow. Woof! You have one of those voices that I’m like, ‘Okay, I’ll go anywhere with this person’”
– Philip Greenlief, internationally acclaimed saxophonist and composer
1.29 – Here-After at the Crocodile, Seattle WA
1.30 – Tractor Tavern, Seattle WA
2.11 – Steve’s Guitars, Carbondale CO
2.17 – Steve’s Guitars, Carbondale CO
2.25 – House show, Seattle WA
5.6 – Trinity Church, Seattle WA
7.8 – Ballard Homestead, Seattle WA
Praise for Ollella
“So tastefully done” – Michelle Zauner AKA Japanese Breakfast (Grammy nominee, NYTimes bestselling author of Crying in H Mart)
“Powerful” – Bill McKibben, Gandhi Peace Award Winner & leader of 350.org