Portlaoise Musician Olivia Emade Discusses Fully Embracing Her Christian Faith On Her Latest Single, “Dear God”

Before pursuing music as a vocation, the Portlaoise local Olivia Emade already had a background in the arts from learning to sing at a young age, studying drama, performing in theatre shows and musicals, and singing in church. However, it wasn’t until the tail end of the COVID-19 lockdowns in 2021 that, through contributing vocals for her friend’s production project, she began to write her own songs.

“My friend was learning how to be a producer for a long time, and it never really clicked that I could join with him,” Olivia tells Post-Burnout. “So, his older brother was writing something and wanted me to help with that. So, when I was helping him with that, and then working with my friend and his older brother, it kind of sparked something in me. I was like, ‘Oh, my days! This is very cool!’

“And, with the COVID time, me and him had a lot of time because we live in the same town, so we had a lot of time to work together, and create, and write together, and do music together. So, I feel like COVID allowed that time and space to be creative and to work together. At the same time, obviously, following the quarantines and stuff, but yeah. [Laughs]”

Olivia found that there was a lack of opportunities within the Portlaoise music scene. Early into her music career, she moved to Dublin to attend college and she immediately appreciated the new networking opportunities that this presented for her. From there, she began building her songbook and released her first single, “Are You at Home,” in October 2021.

“I feel like, earlier on, I was more writing just about life lessons and stuff,” says Olivia. “My first song, anyway, was a love story kind of thing, and it wasn’t really related to me, personally, but I do love reading and I love movies and stuff. So, I feel like I created a story in my mind and made ‘Are You at Home,’ which was my first song, based off that. And then with my next two songs, I feel like I like giving advice to my friends […] So, I kind of used my songs to write about any advice that I’ve learnt, either through my journey with my religion, or through my mom, or anything like that.

“So, my second song – which is ‘Think’ – is about giving people grace and learning not to judge other people without looking at ourselves. Whereas my third song [‘Don’t Forget It’] would be about – and this is more related to me – when you get so caught up in life that you maybe forget about family and friends, and having time to take in the good moments, because those moments can just fly by if you’re so focused on goals, and work life, and stuff like that.”

Photo by George Adegboyega
Courtesy of Olivia Emade

While her Christian beliefs were always important to Olivia and their teachings and ethos have made it into her previous releases, it was only recently that she actually began delving into Christian music and found a particular source of inspiration from the British R&B Christian musician, Sondae. “I feel like I’m gearing more towards solely [listening] to Christian music, because of the discovery of all these types of Christian music,” says Olivia.

“When I started listening especially to Sondae […] – and he doesn’t sound like your generic, gospel Christian artist at all – and when I started listening to him, I was like, ‘Oh, you can do music like this.’ Like, ‘You can still have your faith strong, and then have it sound like this,’ and that is exactly what I wanted to achieve.”

This created an almost career reset for Olivia, who decided that she wanted to solidify the Christian themes, which existed within her music, away from subtext and have them be at the forefront of her writing. “I feel like it definitely built up,” says Olivia. “I feel like that’s why my old songs were so maybe generic, is what I would call them, [Laughs] when it comes to the message. But I definitely feel like, only recently, that, ‘Oh, I really want to go deeper into it,’ and go deeper into my perspective on my relationship with God.”

In switching it up from her established sound for her new song, “Dear God,” which releases today, Olivia worked with producer and mixing engineer KxngBari, who is probably best known for his work with Bless and fellow Portlaoise musician Sosa Sensei. On her end, Olivia began reincorporating vocal training into her practice. She then showed Sondae’s music to KxngBari as a reference, and the two worked together to create a fresh new sound for this direction.

“He created something simple,” says Olivia on how this song differs from her past output. “Because, a lot of the previous songs, they’re very heavy [on] production; a lot of layers. Whereas this song is very stripped-back and it’s not too full-on. So, I feel this one is way more intentional with the way I wanted it to sound, and I want my music to gear towards that, in the future.” She adds, “I feel like the type of music that I was singing was more poppy, and maybe my voice comes out more with a more stripped-back melody.”

Lyrically, “Dear God” is a very personal track, and acts as both an ode to God and a reminder to appreciate oneself as a unique being. “I feel like a lot of us in this world are really focused on the things that we do wrong,” says Olivia of the song. “Either Christians or non-Christians, we’re really hard on ourselves, basically. And I feel like this song is not only for people who know God, but for people who don’t know God, and they realise that there’s actually someone out there that actually appreciates me, no matter the bad things that I do. And that’s the main message of the song: That He has grace for every single person, especially for those who are really hard on themselves. And I feel like anyone can appreciate this message, in a way.”

We asked Olivia if she had any trepidation about being pigeonholed when making her new transition, and she responded, “I do feel like there was a thought that came into my mind: ‘Oh, you know, people won’t see you the same as they did before, when you did your other songs.’ But to be honest, I didn’t really mind that. Personally, to be honest, I actually don’t mind being known as a Christian or put in that general box, to be honest. Because, at the end of the day, there’s a huge community of Christians in Ireland. So, I feel like even if it doesn’t go to everyone – which, obviously, I would like it to – I still feel like I have a huge market of people.”

But ultimately, Olivia found the whole experience to be very liberating. “I feel like, before, I battled with if I wanted to make music that made sense to everyone,” she says. “So, that’s why I feel like my other songs weren’t too heavily on God or heavily Christian related, but I definitely feel like it’s a relief. And I feel that I’m more happier, as well, with the content that I’m releasing for this song. I feel like the visuals and everything are way better than my previous ones.”

Olivia Emade’s new single, “Dear God,” is available to stream from today and an accompanying music video is set to release this Sunday. You can keep up to date with Olivia’s social media accounts and find her music here. You can listen to our full interview here:

You can also listen to this episode on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Amazon Music Podcasts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *