Olive Way – Stuck in My Head

A few weeks ago, the Sweet Sweet Music blog initiated a project of creating a playlist featuring Power Pop songs that have a girl’s name in their titles. The project seems to have grown beyond its initial scope, and more details about it are expected to be revealed in a few weeks.

When I came across Olive Way’s album “Stuck in My Head,” I couldn’t help but smile because all 16 tracks on the album have a girl’s name in their title. Olive Way is the brainchild of Seattle-based songwriter and producer Andrew Gaskin, who shared with Sweet Sweet Music blog why he chose to use these titles.

Listeners can expect to enjoy the beautiful, thoughtfully composed melodies, as well as the unique stories behind each song.

What compliment you once received will you never forget?

Someone I met recently said “My friends and I love your songs – you sound like the Freaky Friday soundtrack!” I took it as a huge compliment but also thought it was hilarious and pretty accurate. Disney’s 2003 remake of Freaky Friday with Lindsay Lohan is soundtracked with some of the catchiest melodic rock bands of the early 2000s. I was a teenager at this time and the overall sound of early 2000s power-pop/punk had a huge influence on the songwriting and production of Olive Way’s debut album Stuck In My Head. I created Olive Way to be my 16 year-old self’s favorite band. The album is available now to stream on all platforms.

How did this record come together?

I started recording songs for Olive Way almost exactly one year ago. For about a month songs with female names seemed to be following me around Seattle in my headphones: Boston’s “Amanda.” Elvis Costello’s “Alison.” Weezer’s “Suzanne” and “Jamie.” Up until that point I had a bunch of song ideas and no way to finish them. But now I had a way: use a name as the title and write from there. I’d been playing bass in Seattle bands for years and had recorded an album remotely with The National Honor Society. During that process I became more comfortable recording music on a computer with Logic Pro. From May to December 2022 I wrote and recorded 25 songs, 16 of which make up Olive Way’s first album Stuck In My Head. I played, sang, and recorded everything in my studio apartment on Olive Way in Seattle. It was an incredibly creative period.

What was the moment you knew you were on to something?

When I recorded Tonya Supreme. Tonya was the first song recorded for Stuck In My Head. I’d never heard my vocals double tracked and in harmony like that before. It gave me a lot of confidence and a ton of vocal production ideas. It was also the first time I started sharing my songs with my friends and family. It was great to hear their feedback and support.

How do you decide when a song is finished and ready to be recorded?

When I have the melody and chords for the chorus, and at least one other section I’ll take the leap and start working on it in Logic. I used to have a really hard time getting songs going until I made a morning routine out of songwriting. It’s kind of like going to the gym. Every morning doing reps to get a little stronger. My main focus with these songs was for them to hopefully have really memorable vocal melodies and harmonies. So much of the music I loved as a teenager gave me this sugar rush of dopamine which I think I’ve been chasing ever since. So every morning I drink coffee, pick up my guitar, and try to write vocal melodies over chords that excite me.

As an artist, you choose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to do so?

For years I had been really self conscious about releasing any music that was super pop sounding. I thought people would hate me or something. When I started finishing songs I became increasingly confident in the music I was making and got over myself a little. I’ve always wanted to make a pop/rock album with big melodies and really clean production. People have asked me “Why are all the songs about girls?” or “Who are all these women?” It honestly just started out as a songwriting exercise and became a fun theme. At one point I was looking in a baby book for more names. Only three of the names on the album are about real women. Which ones do YOU think they are? … If that ruins the mystery just think of it as a concept album set in Seattle by a male version of Taylor Swift – I don’t know hahahaha!

You can pick 3 co-writers to write new songs with. Who? … and Why?

First pick: Mutt Lange. He did Def Leppard’s Hysteria, Bryan Adams, and all Shania Twain’s hits. I’d love to witness his process and level of perfectionism. Second,

Max Martin. He’s the Billboard #1 mastermind. Same reasons as Mutt. Third would be HARDY down in Nashville. He’s the pop-country wizard. Would be amazing to see how he approaches lyrics and production for radio.

How do you balance experimentation with commercial appeal in your music?

20 percent experimentation and 80 percent commercial appeal! Nah, but probably something close. Experimentation to me is just contrast. Taking something that is familiar and then contrasting it with something unexpected, even if minor. I think that’s what makes pop music fun and challenging to write: making something that sounds like the past, but hopefully also the future at the same time. Watch out I’ve got a killer melody over I-V-vi-IV for the next record I’ve been saving..

When was the last time you thought ‘I just wrote a hit!’?

The last song I recorded! Only sort of half kidding. I think I’m reasonably delusional about my songwriting. Right after I finish recording a song I usually think it’s a total smash – it could be the song that saves the world. A couple days later I’ll think my best has yet to be written. The cycle continues and that’s what keeps it compelling for me.

You can’t control the way people ‘hear’ your music. But if you could make them aware of certain aspects, you think, set your songs apart. What would they be?

This is a great question. I wish I could give everyone a nice pair of over the ear headphones. I think I’m most proud of the melodies, vocal production, and overall mixing of the record. I strove for it to have the vibe of an album Jerry Finn or Chris Lorde-Alge would have worked on back in the day.

The meaning of success has changed over the years. What would success look like for the new record?

Success for me right now is just increasing the number of people who have heard the album and hopefully connecting with those who enjoy it. Follow me on Instagram @OliveWayMusic

Suppose you were to introduce your music to new listeners through three songs. Which songs would those be and why?

What are the biggest bangers on Stuck In My Head? Hmmm.. man I think they’re all strong, but if it’s your first time probably Samantha (Why Don’t You Answer),

Natalie (It’s Gonna Be Alright), and Angelina (Portifina-Rose). If you like these I think you’ll dig the whole album front to back.

The record is done, the music is out. Is the best fun done now or is it just beginning?

Just the beginning for sure. The Olive Way sound is expanding. I’m working on a bunch of new songs and will likely be sharing them as singles. Not sure if there will be a theme or not yet. 🙂

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