Lisa Olivant, BMus Popular Music Vocals

Popular music 2

What style of music do you sing?

Mainly neo soul, funk and jazz, but I’ve been known to rap occasionally and do a bit of rock here and there!

Have you had many opportunities to perform?

Loads of opportunities – in the course we get so much opportunity that we‘re assessed on, but there’s also Session Orchestra which is done a couple of times a year. You get the most incredible opportunities – you get to be on the big stage, in the big theatre, with an orchestra.

The tutors also give you gigs. In Manchester I’ve gigged at Night and Day, Matt and Freds, The Deaf Institute, Manchester Academy, The Hilton, The Lowry. Just by being with other people in the course you form bands. My ensemble tutor got me involved with a function band and I work with them once or twice a week, which is great. We gig all over the UK. Once you get to know everybody, people put your name forward for different things.

What are your career aspirations?

Making a living doing what I enjoy. As long as I’m a musician, making music, I’m happy with what I’m doing and able to support myself stably, then that’s the biggest goal I could ask for. I’d like to be able to travel a lot. I would love to do backing vocals for a pop artist. To do my own stuff would be amazing, but I’m seeing what comes my way.

How did you come to study at the RNCM?

I’ve always done music, since I was really little. I was mainly musical theatre and I was set on going to musical theatre school. Then something just flipped- I started gigging whilst I was at high school and I really loved it, and I enjoyed performing pop much more.

I knew as soon as I walked into the RNCM that this was the place I wanted to go; I had a really strong feeling about it. I auditioned here and the first time I didn’t get in, so I took a gap year and came back and auditioned again. The first time I auditioned I had tonsillitis and I think I psyched myself out too much, thinking if I didn’t get in it would be the end of the world. And it wasn’t. I’m actually really glad I didn’t get in the first time as I had a really great gap year. I did loads of gigging and worked on the theory part of it. When I came back I knew exactly what to expect and what to prepare so I relaxed a bit more. I knew where I’d messed up on the first time, so I knew exactly what to work on. I think when I came back they were appreciative of the fact that I hadn’t given up.

What are you looking forward to?

The Session Orchestra are working with a bassist called Stefan Rettenbacher in February, which is a big funk/ soul collaboration, so I’m really excited about that. We’ve got ensemble performance in January, which I’m really excited for, and then the big June Session Orchestra will be amazing! Watching everyone else do their own thing too – everyone has started writing their own original music now, which is really cool and interesting. I’ve got my own original, mainly neo-soul, so I’m really excited to start gigging that as well.

I kind of like that we don’t know what could be coming up and what could be happening. A lot of the best things are spontaneous – you never know when you’ll get a phone call. I’m just excited to keep doing it and see what opportunities come up.