Jazz Musician, STEVE OLIVER Discusses His Latest Collection of Music, Biggest Inspirations and More!
Posted On 16 Jun 2016
After a decade and a half of #1 Billboard Jazz chart hits, Steve Oliver (www.steveolivermusic.com) is scoring big with his first-ever vocal single, the reflective, easy flowing “Why.” This spring, this infectious track was the Most Added on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz National Airplay.
With its thoughtful chorus “We keep on asking, Why?/Hey, I don’t know/I wanna know,” the song provokes a spirit of universal questioning – something that was heavily on the multi-talented singer, songwriter and guitarist’s mind when he performed at Spaghettini in Seal Beach, CA on April 23, two days after Prince‘s sudden passing.
“We’re always asking questions, and we’re always asking why, and one day it hit me like a ton of bricks and the lyrics came to me,” says the Southern California based musician. “The song asks a lot of questions, but from a positive, not self critical or ‘life sucks’ point of view. It’s addressing the life we live every day and questioning what’s going on, and wondering why certain things are happening.
“Losing so many of our musical legends this year, including Prince, David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Maurice White and Keith Emerson, gives new meaning to the song, and this poignant sense of wonder I have,” Oliver adds. “It’s a theme everyone can relate to. We’re always trying to figure out the big picture, and just as we think we’re getting an answer, another thing happens and we’re overwhelmed with new questions.”
“Why” is the lead single from Oliver’s first ever all-vocal album Pictures & Frames, his first official venture into the pop format after nine albums and over 15 years of dominance on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz chart.
Recorded at the legendary Capitol Studios in Hollywood, John Mayer, Sting and Steely Dan influenced Pictures and Frames features the all star rhythm section of bassist Lee Sklar (whose 2,000 studio sessions include albums with James Taylor, Phil Collins and Linda Ronstadt) and legendary jazz/rock drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, known for his work with Sting, Frank Zappa, Eric Clapton and Herbie Hancock.
Learn more about Steve Oliver in the following All Access interview:
Thanks so much for you time today! How’s 2016 been treating you so far? What do you think were some of the highlights of 2015 for you and your music?
2016 has been great. I just did shows in the UK, and more shows in the US. I’m playing songs from the new “Pictures and Frames” album and the response has been amazing. In 2015, it was a lot of touring, writing and recording. I am a music addict, and I can’t get enough.
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your earliest musical memory?
Yes, from birth I knew I wanted to play and create music. My earliest memory was in the crib and wanting to climb out and get closer to the stereo to turn it up.
Congrats on all the success your single “Why” is having! What’s that been like for you? Did you know that it was going to be such a hit?
Thank you! “Why” is a optimistic song. We are always asking “why” about everything in life, so I think it is connecting with people on all levels.
How long had you been working on your first ever vocal album, “Pictures & Frames”? Why did you decide to record an all vocal collection?
I have always been a singer/songwriter and I write and produce for other artists and had a lot of songs piled up. I always wrote a couple of vocals songs on all of my albums and fans were asking me when I was going to do a full vocal album, so the time was perfect to do it. There is also a lot of guitar playing in the songs too.
What was it like recording the album at Capitol Studios in Hollywood? What was it like recording with those musicians there?
It was simply a dream. That building has so much history with all the artists who have recorded there. I recorded in Studio B. That is a great room for live drums. Vinnie Colaiuta played live with Lee Sklar on bass, and they have recorded hundreds of sessions in studio B – so it was an amazing time. So “Pictures and Frames” has a little bit of that Capitol history on it.
How do you think you have grown as an artist through the years?
I have so much appreciation for music on all levels and styles, writing songs, production and playing live in different parts of the world, and you can’t help but to learn and grow from it all. Just by doing it, I’m always eager to learn something new.
Who are some of your favorite musicians? Who continues to inspire you year after year? Who would you love to collaborate with in the future?
I have always loved and connected to the artist’s who write and record their own music. I would love to collaborate with John Mayer, Sting, Pat Metheny, Stevie Wonder. I would also love to work with Chris Martin from Coldplay. I think we could do something very cool and creative!
At the end of the day, what do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope listeners take away from your songs?
I want to spread the message of positive optimism and hope.