acoustic duo Olive Sings finds joy in music
‘Life isn’t all what it seems; room full of circus mirrors bending reality ... I have lost my mind. I woke up to find it ran off with my pride.”
In the sleepy hours of day, Seth and Kayla’s words tugged at my heart. As the lyrics of “Sweet Release” continued, I felt my heart ache and dance all at once. I know – without a doubt – that Kayla Zoltak and Seth Gamble of Chippewa Falls, who perform together as Olive Sings, were meant to cross my path. We wrote back and forth about their upcoming album, Photosynthesis & Light, and what drew them to music. What began as a simple story about two musicians led to an honest and genuine discussion about life, disappointment, and dreams.
“There are things I’ve done that I’m not proud of, but I am so thankful they happened because they eventually lead me back to music.” – Kayla Zoltak of Olive Sings on her musical journey
“Sweet Release,” a track on their new album, is about life’s disappointments and how we choose to overcome them. Seth shares that the song came to him over several mile-long treks to and from work. “The song is about how life can change at a moment’s notice and how to persevere through hardships. The words, ‘such a sweet release’ speak to how hardships can be a gift; allowing us to appreciate things we may take for granted,” Seth explains.
Kayla also tells of a time in her life that is often at the core of what drives her creativity. “It was one bad decision after another that took me away from my love for music, and the happy path I had been on. I didn’t sing or play an instrument for a good five or six years. Then, I met Seth,” she wrote. “He was optimistic and showed me how to write unabashedly. It was refreshing. When we played music together, there was really nothing more important in the world to me (other than my kids). There are things I’ve done that I’m not proud of, but I am so thankful they happened because they eventually lead me back to music.”
Life inspires both Seth and Kayla’s lyrics, but the heart of their sound goes much deeper than that. Kayla also finds inspiration in the process itself. “An idea or small melody will just sort of pop into my head, and I’ll run with it,” she says. “Other times, the writing process is pretty labor-intensive, and I have to work for every line. For me, it’s the feelings and being in the moment that inspires me to write. It’s what I love to do most. The music itself is inspiring.”
I asked them about favorite shows Olive Sings has played. They told me that they love playing at Potter’s Shed in Shell Lake because the crowd is always so receptive. Their favorite memory of a show: when they played at the Ceske Opera House in Haugen. “Everyone loves Seth’s song, ’Haugen,’ ” Kayla says. “It’s led to many fun times there!”
Whether it’s “Haugen” or other songs, the two feel that their overall sound and songwriting are what makes Olive Sings unique. “Usually, when you think of ‘acoustic duo,’ you think of a more traditional, laid-back sound that resembles an early-day folk group like Simon & Garfunkel,” Seth says. “We tend to take the fundamental ideas of an ‘acoustic duo’ and amp them up! I think we do a good job of mixing the two in order to create a unique variety. We’ve often times been told that we make as much noise as a full band ... It’s a unique style among acoustic duos and something we work hard to perfect.”
Seth and Kayla are hard at work perfecting Photosynthesis & Light. They have dreams of playing more festivals and touring, so they may visit places they’ve never been. Their new album is scheduled for release on Thursday, Aug. 17. The two are very excited to host a celebration that evening at The Sheeley House Saloon, 236 W. River St., Chippewa Falls. The show will start at 8pm and will include guest performances by Greg Gilbertson, Red Tide Duo and Blaine, and Leah Howard.
I may have just met them, but Olive Sings has already made a mark on my life. I believe it will spread to many others and help them find their sweet release.