Checking Up on Olivia O'Brien

Checking Up on Olivia O'Brien

Anastasia Karanikolaou is the first to be killed in Olivia O'Brien's new horror-inspired "Sociopath" music video — while on Instagram Live, of course. Her murderer? Euphoria's Zak Steiner, who wreaks havoc on a casual, stormy night in, as he brutally picks off O'Brien's friends one by one, from Quenlin Blackwell to drumaq.

The Amber Park-directed film leans heavily on tropes from classic thriller parodies like Scream and Scary Movie, with tons of fake blood and over-the-top slasher scenes. O'Brien and her friends all fall victim to the sociopathic trappings of satan worshippers and killers, whose "I want to kill you" threats are wrongly interpreted as flirty DMs.

"Sociopath" is the first single off O'Brien's forthcoming sophomore album, Episodes, which she'll release in two parts — the first in May and the second later this summer. A follow-up to her 2019 debut, Was It Even Real?, O'Brien's next effort is about all the "mis-matched episodes" of her life, from "lighthearted comedy" to "tear-jerking coming of age drama."

This initial taste from Episodes zeroes in on O'Brien's tendency to focus on the wrong guys — and dramatizes her reality to absolute extremes. "Hands on my neck/ But you've got no regrets/ For the marks that you left," she sings on "Sociopath," before making the final admission: "Guess that's what I get/ For loving a sociopath."

For "Sociopath" release day, PAPER checked up on O'Brien in quarantine to talk about everything from texting her exes to the last person she hugged.

What's the first thing you do when you wake up?

If I'm being honest, I like to lay in bed for a good few hours sometimes before I get up. I am definitely not a morning person and waking up is my least favorite thing. I usually get out of bed around 8 or 9 AM to feed my dog and then hop back into bed until I absolutely need to be up and going.

What's the last thing you do before you go to bed?

Before bed I always fill up a full glass of water. Then I usually put on a TV show I've already seen 20 times (right now it's New Girl) and watch it until I start to fall asleep.

Have you texted an ex yet in isolation?

Of course, who hasn't?

Who's the last person you hugged?

I'm not really sure, but it was definitely one of my best friends. Probably Kelsey, Drew or Charley.

What's your go-to delivery order?

Depends on my mood. but lately when I'm craving something sweet, I'll order a strawberry and nutella crepe with whipped cream. I have a big sweet tooth.

What was the last concert you attended?

I don't think I could even tell you the last concert I attended, it was so long ago. The last concert I was at though was my own. My tour got cut short due to COVID, so I was on the road just days before lockdown doing shows every night. I miss it so much.

Where is the first place you'll travel once the world opens up again?

I want to go literally everywhere. Hopefully I can do a big trip across Europe and visit all the places I've always wanted to go but never have. I'd love to go to the South of France.

What website do you visit the most?

Definitely TikTok. I spend hours a day just scrolling, but I actually feel like I learn things on there. I get a lot of educational and informative videos on my For You page, so I feel a little bit less bad about wasting my days online.

What's one thing you've learned this year that you didn't know this time last year?

I learned how to stop caring so much about what other people think of me and how to rely on myself. I am really proud of the progress I've made in terms of my self-love and who I've become. i feel like 2020 gave me the wisdom and maturity of 5 years in one because I had to spend so much time just sitting alone with myself and reflecting on life.

How have you managed to stay creative in quarantine?

It's been pretty hard for me to stay creative, inspired and motivated. I've tried to not be so hard on myself and to not force myself to write if I am not feeling it. Instead I've just been listening to music I like and watching some good movies and hoping it sparks something in me — sometimes it does.

How has the state of the world impacted your music-making?

I am not experiencing and living life in the same fast-paced way I was before all of this. I get my inspiration from my own life, so I definitely had trouble finding things to inspire my writing. It also makes collaborating with producers and other writers a more complicated ordeal in general, so things have just been a lot slower.

What is the role of a musician in 2021?

Hopefully we can get back to doing live shows pretty soon because I know we all miss it. Nothing is certain, but I think the best thing to do is focus on our art and honing in on our creative goals/ artistic vision. There has never really been a time like this when we have the ability to take a step back from the craziness and be home. I'm trying to take advantage of the peace and quiet as much as I can, and using it to better myself so that I can be the artist I've always wanted to be.

Stream "Sociopath" by Olivia O'Brien, below.

Photos courtesy of Olivia O'Brien