Olivia Anna Livki was born in 1984 in Opole, but grew up in the German Black Forest region, where her family moved when she was six years old. Her parents – a Polish singer and a German engineer – met in Jordan. She is based in Berlin.
Her actual surname is Schnitzler, while Livki – her stage name, was inspired by her childhood nickname. She describes herself as a German artist with Polish roots, but she says she deliberately chose an alias that could not not be associated with any particular nationality.
She takes care of her own music arrangements and production, sings, plays bass and djembe, programmes samples. She is also involved in film directing, e.g. of music videos. Her compositions are dominated by rough and sharp bass guitar sounds and her vocals. She often incorporates ethnic African rhythms into her songs, which, like in the case of the single Tel Aviv, draw comparisons to David Byrne of Talking Heads.
She first performed in front of the general republic on the first edition of the Must Be The Music television show. That appearance helped her gather funds for her debut album The Name Of This Girl Is (a direct reference to the title of Talking Heads CD), released in 2011. She was the sole author of music, lyrics, and arrangements on the album, as well as its producer. The record was distributed via her website. Her second album was supposed to come out in 2013, but instead Livki released an extended version of The Name Of This Girl Is (with three bonus tracks), while the new record did not appear until May 2015.
She announced Strangelivv – a clear reference to Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove – to be a political project, bringing up songs by such artists as MC5, Fela Kuti, or Public Enemy as influences for the album. Her hit single Geek Power was inspired by the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai.
Mysteriously enough, topics that seem slightly too harsh for pop music and melodies that sound a bit too sharp build up to a very original combination. Even on Geek Power, which, after all, was chosen for promoting her album, energetic Livki intertwines her singing with emphatic chanting, while processed bass lines turn into an aggressive riff. On one hand, one may think this a waste of a hit, but on the other – perhaps it also offers something entirely new? A similar effect is achieved on the melodic Subways, where strings contribute an air of awe.
Livki is capable of turning a controversial topic into a dance hit. On the powerful Internet Is A Weapon, she sings: "we were stupid and exploited (...) we just wanted to let it out" and adds in the chorus: "I wanna kill kill kill/ I want you to die for what made me cry".
The female protagonist of her single, Dark Blonde Rises, unreleased on either of her LPs, fantasizes about being a serial killer – the inspiration behind this narrative being the 2012 shooting in Aurora, USA, which happened during the premiere of the film The Dark Knight Rises.
The artist aims to establish a dialogue not only with her audience. In an interview for the Nowa Warszawa online magazine, she said:
I haven't yet heard any new Polish music that was stimulating, relevant, and original. The Polish artists I come across on stage are still too polite and fawning. It is as though they were constantly asking what they can do for me. I challenge them to a battle. I can't wait to experience some kind of storm, something that's at least like Republika, but with a contemporary twist!
olivia anna schnitzler
coke live music festival
the name of this girl is
don't panic we're form poland
She became serious about making music at the age of seventeen, when she started playing bass guitar (which she has continued to do ever since) and working on her vocals. She also took piano lessons as a child, but wasn't very fond of that.
She went through a brief period of studying film directing in Warsaw, but ended up graduating in Film Studies, Comparative Literature, and English Philology from the Free University of Berlin. She has long-term plans to transform her music label Livv into a music and film production company. She designs her own stage costumes, which are made by her mother.
Livki has performed at Coke Live Music Festival in Kraków, Off Festival in Katowice, as well as various clubs in Berlin, New York, Tokyo, and Prague. One of her career breakthroughs was opening for Lenny Kravitz on the day of her debut record premiere in November 2011.
- 2011 – The Name Of This Girl Is
- 2015 - Strangelivv
Artist's website: www.oliviaannalivki.com
Author: Jacek Świąder, transl. Ania Micińska, May 2015