A new pop singer-songwriter has entered the conversation. After two years of dropping consistently listenable singles, Olivia Lunny has handed listeners the key to her diary with a self-titled debut album.
Introduced to music early, the singer-songwriter hasn’t stopped since her first strum of a guitar. At 14, Lunny landed onstage and performed for 40,000 people at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. From a passion for writing poetry in Grade 4, to scoring a deal with Universal Music in May of 2021, Lunny recognized early on the possibilities created by slowly adding some chords to turn her poems into songs. “I came home from a hard day at school, I sat down with my guitar, and played to de-stress,” says the singer-songwriter. “That’s when I started writing full songs. Then one thing kind of led to another, and I guess now I’m here.”
Fast-forward a few years from her start, and the Winnipeg native was like any young adult trying to navigate life in their early twenties. As Lunny experienced life, she wrote lyrics and created melodies reflecting her major influences: Fleetwood Mac, Coldplay, and Ed Sheeran.
She got her foot in the door by participating in the nationally televised singing competition The Launch in 2019 – which she won. Then, in April of 2020 (shortly after COVID-19 struck), she was hand-picked to sing alongside Justin Bieber, Avril Lavigne, and Michael Bublé in a cover version of “Lean On Me” (which became a Top 40 hit), to benefit the Canadian Red Cross’s COVID-19 initiatives. The same year, adding to her growing list of accomplishments, Lunny earned a SOCAN Foundation Young Canadian Songwriters Award for the song “Bedsheets.”
Lunny’s career is just beginning to blossom, but her list of collaborators already includes some musical heavyweights. Discussing her 2021 single “Who Could Say No,” she explains how the collaboration with Grammy-winning producer Boi-1da (Drake, Rihanna, Lana Del Rey) and hit music-maker YogiTheProducer (Kehlani, Jessie Reyez) happened in the studio.
“I was with YogiTheProducer and Boi-1da, and it was late at night,” she says. “There were some really cool studio lights, and he just put on this really cool beat. I wanted to write a song that was happy, empowering, and fun. Especially because the pandemic has been a dark time for so many of us. That’s how we came up with ‘Who Could Say No.’”
“That break was really important for me, because I put so much pressure on myself to write”
An ode to heartbreak and open wounds, Lunny’s debut album aims to introduce herself to listeners, offering them a deep, authentic, and vulnerable dive into her personal journey. “I hope my music can be the soundtrack to people’s lives,” she says. “I just want it to be a part of people’s journeys.”
Lunny says the pandemic has impacted her songwriting, and led her to recognize that she needed a break from music. “The first few months of lockdown, [it was] actually really hard for me to write,” she says. “After two months, I picked up the guitar and started writing again. That break was really important for me, because I put so much pressure on myself to write.”
According Lunny, her writing process is spontaneous, filled with random bursts of creativity. “I either write a song in 20 minutes, or in three days,” she says. “It’s all over the place, but that’s still kind of the most fun part, because it keeps it so interesting. I think the hardest part for any songwriter is writing really unique, cool, smart lyrics. I would argue it’s really easy to write a bad song.”
Lunny looks forward to life after COVID, so she can venture out and share her love for music and songwriting with the world. “I would love to write some songs for other artists, travel the world, and play shows in many different places,” she says. “I’ve never actually been on a tour. So definitely, playing shows all over is a huge goal.”