At 21 years of age, Olivia Penalva has established herself as one of Canada’s successful pop stars. Since releasing her debut single at the age of 13, the British Columbia native has steadily grown into an all-around artist and genuine force within the global pop scene.
The 2020 success of her last single “Love Me” has over 38 million Tik Tok views. It was the #2 most added at CHR Mediabase, charting at #17 on Pop radio with impressive numbers on two additional formats —all building on her Billboard’s Hot 100 and Canada’s Emerging Artist chart penetration. In addition, her YouTube has over 7 million views.
Olivia has been nominated in the categories Breakout Artist of the Year and Pop Artist of the Year for the 2021 Western Canadian Music Awards, profiled in SOCAN’s Words & Music Magazine, and also featured in Virgin Music’s #WomensHistoryMonth social media campaign.
She owns Isabelle Music Group and has most recently signed with Decoded Music Group/Virgin Music. Olivia is poised to keep building on that with her latest single “Ex’s,” with its sultry R&B vibes further displaying her artistic evolution. The song is another preview of her 12 song album that promises to showcase all aspects of her creativity.
“I wrote ‘Ex’s’ about how temptation can be exciting and thrilling but ultimately can lead us to make destructive decisions with serious consequences,” Olivia explains. “The heart can lead us to places where we hurt others, even if we don’t mean to and the mind tells us otherwise. It is a cheeky and edgy song that sheds light on what it’s like to be the person hurting someone they care about while falling for someone they didn’t know they ever wanted.”
“Ex’s” is one of the dozens of songs Olivia has been crafting with some of the music industry’s top writers and producers that will comprise her upcoming full-length release. Those names include Ryan Stewart and Tavish Crowe (Carly Rae Jepsen), Nolan Sipe (Jonas Brothers), David “Messy” Mescon (Nicki Minaj/Ariana Grande), Phil Barton (Lee Brice), Brian Howes (Simple Plan), Emma-Lee and Karen Kosowski (Mickey Guyton), Patricia Conroy and Dave Thompson (Lady A), Chrystal Oudijk (Sons of Daughters), Troy Samson (Kelly Rowland), Giordan Postorino and Emily Shackleton (Carly Pearce) to name a few.
“This past year has been so amazing for me,” she said “One of the highlights of this record was having Josh Gudwin mix it for me! I am such a fan of his work (Justin Bieber) and was blown away to have him involved. Having written over 80 songs preparing for this record, picking the final 12 was hard noting “Every song we picked is part of my story”.
From the moment Olivia first heard her voice on the radio at age 14, there was no turning back. Her 2016 single “Skyline (The Madlucky Remix)” earned two iHeartRadio Future Star Awards, in addition to charting Top 40 in three different formats. In short order, her cover of Calum Scott’s “You Are The Reason” logged over 3.2 million streams and was placed on America’s Got Talent, along with her cover of John Hiatt’s “Have a Little Faith In Me” being placed on American Idol. It all helped push Olivia’s other 2020 single “No Rush” past 460k streams.
All of that exposure has kicked open doors that were already nudged, making Olivia a frequent visitor to L.A. and Nashville for writing trips. However, the circumstances of the past year have allowed her to stay closer to home in B.C.’s idyllic Okanagan Valley and carry on her work via Zoom. “We have the most beautiful summers and even prettier winters,” she says. “But what I love most is the quiet lifestyle that I have out here. My music career is so fast-paced, so I know that after all the work is finished, I get to come home to a beautiful, slow-paced place where all my loved ones live.”
That picture doesn’t exactly reflect what Olivia gets across in her music, with “Ex’s” a clear demonstration of that. As a classic tale of lover’s revenge, the song illustrates how relationships at a certain age can get complicated—and how much fun it can sometimes be getting back at someone who’s cheated on you. Most importantly, it sounds like a song that Olivia had a lot of fun writing.
As the time draws ever closer for her new album to arrive, she has her sights fully trained on keeping the fun times coming, while continually striving to present her most authentic self in her songs.
“I have been interested in music for as long as I can remember, but never imagined it could be my career. Once I realized that I could actually create music that affected people who heard it, I honestly couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to do some pretty amazing things. I am so proud of these milestones and by the growth in my music that I’ve seen over the last 10 years, but I absolutely cannot wait to see what comes next!”