Olivia Springberg
→BFA PT 2023

Olivia Springberg’s composition “Climax” arrived in our inbox without a word of introduction. We loved its spare sound and asked Olivia to share a few words about the 22-minute composition. This interview, conducted by v.1 editor Sabo Kpade via e-mail has been edited and condensed for concision and clarity. Listen to “Climax” here.

Is there a specific feeling you intended to convey when composing “Climax”?

I composed the piece for a livestream performance hosted by my good friend, Femi Fleming, who is an incredibly talented musician. It largely reflects on feelings of loneliness, separation, and perhaps some disappointment in myself, which I think ties into the only “comprehensible” lyric of the song, “What have I done?” Although the creation of the song was prompted by the livestream performance, the piece was very personal.

What can you share about the personal nature of the composition? Was it a bereavement? A break up? Or a happy event that made the piece personal?

I’m not sure I want to get too far into it, but I did write it with someone specific in mind who I felt like I was growing apart from. Not sure how they would feel about that if they knew.

Who or what has inspired your interest in sound?

I am greatly inspired by groups such as L’Rain, Atlas Sound, and The Durutti Column, especially with regards to guitar.

What exactly is inspiring about the guitar?

The guitar uses delay, reverb, and pitch shifting, all of which I often employ in my own work as I really like the sound.

How was “Climax” composed?

“Climax” is made up of electric guitar with some interspersed vocals, which I run through a dozen effects—mostly reverb (all reverb). You can never have too much reverb! Guitar is the base of all the music I make. I usually start pieces by just writing short guitar licks and layering them over each other either with a looper pedal or within Ableton or Logic. Sometimes I try to push the tone until it is unrecognizable as guitar.

You’ve been making music for some time but only recently began putting your music on streaming platforms such as Bandcamp, Spotify, and Apple Music. Why now?

I had a lot of encouragement from my friends, which made me feel more confident in my work. Also partly out of spite for someone who told me no one will listen to my music and that I use too much reverb. It's been a bit daunting putting my work out into the world, but really very cool and rewarding at the same time.

Why was it daunting? Was it the anticipated reaction?

Yes, the anticipated reaction was probably the biggest factor. I’m by no means a professional and did not know whether or not my track was properly mixed and mastered or if it was something that anyone would even enjoy listening to.

You recently put out a collaborative album titled “Just a Grey Mass” with Femi Fleming, whose pseudonym is Sadnoise. Tell me about the album and why you work well together.

The album consists of both instrumental and vocal tracks. We used modular synthesizers, guitar, and vocals and recorded with a four-track tape machine. Femi Fleming is really skilled at modular synthesis and music production and he has been showing me different ways to record sound and make new, unique sounds as well.

Why do you publish your music under the pseudonym “stonewashed world”?

I think that the pseudonym is just another fun thing that comes with putting music out. It’s like naming a song or creating an album cover. It’s something that somehow represents what you're making even if the meaning behind it is only private knowledge. It’s hard to articulate, but I think that the name separates me from my music in a good way.

Olivia Springberg is...