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A Holland homeschooled teen releases "gypsy swing folk" album

Dec 9, 2015

Credit Chris Switzer

Olivia Mainville is a 19-year-old from Holland, Michigan. She’s releasing her first full-length album on Thursday.

Mainville describes her music as gypsy swing folk. Her playful voice has hints of a young Alanis Morrissette and sometimes Regina Spektor.

Mainville has already spent a lot of time touring the state playing music. She’s had more time on her hands than most teenagers. When she was in 9th grade, she decided to leave high school and become homeschooled so she could focus on her music.

“I made a little classroom in my basement and I studied, which took up a lot less time than it usually takes at a normal public school. So I’d study for like four hours and then I’d do music for the rest of the day,” Mainville says.

On Mainville’s latest album, most of the songs are about boys and her parents, but the title track on the album, called “Maybe the Saddest Thing,” was inspired by a book of poetry by Marcus Wicker from Ann Arbor.

“Basically I picked out all of my favorite lines and I put them together,” Mainville says.

“Maybe the Saddest Thing” starts out with the lyrics:

“Meryl Streep, movies, porcelain roosters, daisies, cooking dinner logically in favor of a daily bike ride to my buddy John’s, finding grids and scattered plots. Every road I choose to walk is filled with carnival roadblocks.”

Her song, “I Need Time” features Gerry Leonard, who’s best known for being David Bowie’s guitarist and band director.

Mainville casually chatted with him after seeing him play a few times in Michigan. When she was wrapping up recording for this album, her dad proposed an idea:

“Dad was like, 'Hey, we should get Gerry Leonard on a song,' and I was like, ‘Whoa, that’s a great idea!” Mainville says.

So in two days, Mainville wrote the song, recorded it and then asked Gerry Leonard if he would play guitar on the track, and he agreed.

“He recorded some amazing guitar tracks,” Mainville says.

Mainville’s album can be found on iTunes, Spotify and Bandcamp tomorrow. She’ll be performing in Traverse City Friday and Saturday and in Petoskey later this month. 

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