Our second twintterview was with Olga Nunes and is copied below. She is a singer and songwriter, born in Montreal, Canada, to Spanish and Brazilian parents.
She began writing songs in 2005, after a summer alone in a cabin in the middle of America spending days doing nothing but singing. Shortly thereafter, she did a solo cross-country road trip and ended up in a community just outside of Taos Pueblo, New Mexico, where she was taught the basics of piano by a Buddhist monk.
Olga is currently working on the forthcoming album LAMP, a series of songs with a fictional story woven around them, told in videos and art installations.
She is currently living in San Francisco, where she ended up living after England kicked her out.
@VishnusTrumpet: Our #twintterview today is w/@olganunes, a Canadian in SF working on LAMP, an album w/a fictional story told in videos & art installations.
@VishnusTrumpet: welcome! can you describe your sound for those who haven’t heard you?
@olganunesh: Sure thing! I make sort of indie pop music‚the best description I’ve come up with so far is jump rope songs to be sad to.
@VishnusTrumpet: ha! that’s the most creative description yet! who are indie acts you love?
@olganunesh: Indie acts today are a fascinating bunch to be part of. Because I think most people can’t tell anymore?
@olganunesh: For example, I LOVE @macklemore, who has been on SNL, & Jimmy Fallon, & consistently at the top of iTunes charts‚ and if he didn’t rap about shunning the labels, I’m not sure you’d know? So many indie acts are blurring the lines, keeping some rights and making deals distribution rights, etc. That said, (as I just gave away) I love @macklemore, @amandapalmer obviously, @Glen_Hansard a TON.
@olganunesh: Last bit should have been: “making deals FOR distribution rights” ‚ alas, I type too fast.
@VishnusTrumpet: good point. why do you think that line between indie & corporate is so blurry now? technology? style of music?
@olganunesh: I think it’s definitely the infrastructure of tech. Twitter is huge. Kickstarter is huge. In the past, only labels held the giant megaphone by which you could spread your art. Now everyone has a megaphone.
@olganunesh: The problem now, is the sound of one very large megaphone carries pretty well. A million megaphones? not so much. But it does mean that the power to be heard is kind of in the hands of the individual.
@olganunesh: Instead of playing the local coffee shop or selling music out of the van to a few people, musicians can reach everyone by selling music off @Bandcamp or uploading a song to YouTube. There’s better access, now.
@VishnusTrumpet: what’s the best thing about being in SF for a musician?
@olganunesh: People are insanely willing to be supportive. SF has a great music scene but it’s mostly electronic‚ that does mean that everyone is sort of willing to give advice on production. There are SO MANY producers, it’s crazy.
@olganunesh: Also, though, people in general are much more willing to just jump in & help you make something.
@olganunesh: The recent Act event of LAMP couldn’t have happened without people just being willing to play & help turn things from a pile of imagination into reality.
@VishnusTrumpet: what’s your favorite song about SF?
@olganunesh: That’s easy. Come Back From San Francisco by the Magnetic Fields.
@olganunesh: A little anti-SF, but not nearly as bad as Death Cab’s song about LA. I think it’s romantic, though.
@VishnusTrumpet: awesome choice, though it’s a little anti SF! what online sources do you use to find music?
@olganunesh: I think word of mouth is a big one. I used to scour the internet for new music & now I just let it waft toward me. I think the biggest discovery thing I still use is We Are Hunted, on Spotify (Which Twitter just bought, I think?) It’s a pretty great underground aggregate system.
@VishnusTrumpet: Most artists see the internet as a distribution tool only but you songwrite collaboratively w/fans. How/why is that your process and how did that develop?
@olganunesh: I think it’s built into my genes. Almost every project I can remember I’ve ever come up with had some element of, INCLUDE ALL THE PEOPLE. I love creating things in the little mental silo of my own head but it’s not any fun if other people aren’t somehow included in some part, somewhere, for me. I think it’s innate and may come from my desire to be constantly surrounded by people making stuff.
@VishnusTrumpet: kind of the maker movement style of music!?
@olganunes: HA! I never would have thought of it that way. Art/Maker culture, yes. Definitely.
@VishnusTrumpet: You’ve used kickstarter, listservs, treasure hunts & google voice to distribute your music. Can you explain how that started and what methods you’ve used?
@olganunes: I’m an early-adopter human, and love tech, in general. BUT. I think I’m always trying to figure out how to make it do stuff it’s not meant to. Sort of take it out of context? For example, I wanted a gramophone that played my music, but apparently you can’t make the heavy lacquer records that play on the hand-crank gramophones, anymore. So I asked a friend of mine to hack one with arduinos and magnets and magic, so it APPEARS to play my song when you turn the crank. Speeds up, slows down, everything. It’s actually an mp3.
@olganunes: Which is a roundabout way of answering: I’m very quick to take advantage of things (like @thelistserve) to do things they’re not entirely meant to.
@VishnusTrumpet:–in that example you had to resort to technology because we’ve lost the technology to make victrola records!
@olganunes: Yes, exactly! My favorite things evoke that quote, that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic? I love using tech to make things appear to be magic. And additionally I love using tech in unexpected ways in general, like Google Voice for This Is A Memory Of (part of Act of LAMP) where people called a number and were asked a mystery question. Their answers will get wrapped into the album. Which isn’t really the way you’re meant to use Google Voice, either.
@VishnusTrumpet:, so not just hacking hardware, but uses of tech applications. Kind of like VT is for!
@olganunes: Sure thing! s
@VishnusTrumpet: do you feel using these sorts of things gets fans engaged? would you advise other bands to do similar for promo?
@olganunes: I honestly don’t think there’s an X/Y set of coordinates to getting humans engaged. I know that something will take off, like, say, VideoSongs did for @pomplamoose. But you can’t recommend, okay, now everyone do VideoSongs! Because @pomplamoose managed to buy a house doing that! ‚it doesn’t really work that way. I think you have to do the thing that most engages you. That works for you. That enables to to connect with people, whatever that looks like.
@VishnusTrumpet:–though you seem to be doing it as part of the creative process not for promo!
@olganunes: And yes! I’m definitely doing it for the creative process. I do think there’s a part of me that’s always thinking, how can I get more people involved. Which maybe looks like the same line of thinking as promo. But “Promo” feels like such a cold, hard word. Making art with humans and sharing what you make with people seems infinitely more fun.
@VishnusTrumpet: that’s a fair point. a lot of our bands have complained about finding the key to getting people to listen to their stuff & distinguishing themselves from other bands…but you “do you” & that’s why it works for you!
@olganunes: Sure! I think there’s no magic bullet, and in general, I think it’s best to follow the things that turn you on, as a musician. Eventually, I think those things will act like a beacon for others who are passionate about the things you are.
@VishnusTrumpet: what’s the biggest frustration or obstacle you face as an independent artist today?
@olganunes: The biggest frustration is perhaps that there IS no magic bullet. Additionally, your career is yours to win or lose. Gone are the days where you can complain that you can’t get the attention of a gatekeeper/record label, or complain that your career is floundering because your label isn’t making the right decisions.
@olganunes: The biggest obstacle, I think, is you. Which is terrible/wonderful. It’s each individual’s responsibility to figure out how to stand out in an ocean of megaphones, and to commit to it. Having all these tools is wonderful, but at the end, it’s how hard you work. Again, look at @macklemore. He’s as good of a study in sheer commitment, as he is an example of one of the people breaking ground for indie musicians.
@VishnusTrumpet: essentially, “What are you waiting for?” http://buff.ly/11lkWAR
@olganunes: HA. Nice. And yes. Definitely.
@VishnusTrumpet: how can fans help you or their other favorite indie artists?
@olganunes: If you’d asked me that on another day, I might have said “buy music!” But I don’t think I believe that anymore. Writer Cory Doctorow has this great quote, about how a young artist’s problem is one of obscurity.
@olganunes: And I think it’s right. The context, for him, was talking about piracy, but I think the same idea applies.
@olganunes: I think the most helpful thing a person can do to help me, or any other musician or artist of any stripe that they love, is to share their art. Share their music. Send it to their friends. Tell people. We are people living in world of a million megaphones. So if you love something, be a megaphone. Give it a signal boost.
@olganunes: That’s honestly, I think, the best thing you can do. Spread the things you love.
@VishnusTrumpet: aww. warm & fuzzies. we’re SHOUTING AS LOUD AS WE CAN over here!
@olganunes: Aw, shucks.
@VishnusTrumpet: if people want to contribute to your projects, get the resulting music or see LAMP unfold, where do they go?
@olganunes: There’s a bunch of ways to contribute! If you want to be part of the current act of LAMP, you can go to http://thisisamemoryof.com and answer the mystery question. If you want to hear the album, you can download all the current tracks for free here: http://bit.ly/vRREyo (you can preorder the physical album at that link, too!) The best way to keep up with the whole thing is to follow me on Twitter, or join the mailing list, here: http://bit.ly/cvGveZ I’ve sort of created a sprawling monster, & plan to revamp the LAMP site to show how all of these pieces fit together and how people can get more involved!
@VishnusTrumpet: VT would like to thank you SO MUCH for chatting w/us today. is there anything else you’d like to let VT fans know?
@olganunes: Thank YOU! This was fun. And sure! If you are a fan of toast and pie and being very, very, very silly‚ ‚ you should totally go listen to this. http://youtu.be/oyjzcxxK6F0 Thanks so much, again!!