QSC Aspiring interview: Olivia Lunny on Heartbreak On Repeat

Canadian-born electronic pop artist Olivia Lunny recently spoke to Headliner about her new single Heartbreak On Repeat, and her musical journey since releasing her self-titled debut album in 2021…

Having just completed two 10-hour studio sessions on consecutive days – “working on my studio tan,” in her own words – Lunny sounded poised and excited to share everything she’s been working on lately as she joined Headliner over Zoom from her new base in L.A.

If her previous release – Timezone – is anything to go by, fans of Lunny’s music can expect more love pop anthem-esque vibes, although she insists that this track was a bit of a one off when questioned on the matter.

“It's definitely a bit more dancier and poppier than some of my other stuff,” she admits. “I'm at a time in my life right now where time zones are affecting me; I'm traveling a lot, and I just moved to L.A. while my family's on the east coast. I was in a long distance relationship at the time, and there's just so many things going on, so I wrote down in my notes: timezone. I brought that into a session and then the song kind of transpired. We wrote it in probably three hours because we just had so much to say about the topic.”

Heartbreak On Repeat, Lunny’s latest single, is entirely relatable in more ways than one, and takes listeners on an exciting journey of self-discovery and empowerment. She wrote the song with her friend and collaborator Julia Ross, along with songwriter Ferras - known for his extensive work with Katy Perry.

“At first I didn’t know what to expect, but when I saw him I was super pumped,” she recalls. “The breakup that inspired Timezone, I brought that to the table again in this session. I would like to think I’m a lovable person, but the career itself with all the traveling and craziness is sometimes a hard thing to digest. It’s hard to love a person who’s doing that career, and so we were just talking about that and how it feels like heartbreak on repeat; you’re trying all these different relationships while trying to stay grounded throughout the process.”

The song will also share a name with Lunny’s upcoming EP, set for release in October: “It’s going to be five songs about falling in love and heartbreak and everything in between,” she reveals. 

“In my truest form, me with an acoustic guitar is when I come up with the most organic songs; last night I sat around jamming and didn’t even notice two hours had gone by. But in terms of the more poppy topline songs, I've been really loving the idea of just writing down a concept or a song title, bringing that into a session, and then you have this overarching theme that gives you direction.”

In my truest form, me with an acoustic guitar is when I come up with the most organic songs.

Lunny grew up in a musical household listening to an eclectic range of influences, from Fleetwood Mac, Eric Clapton and The Beatles to Coldplay, Ed Sheeran and a plethora of indie bands: “It’s anything and everything for me really,” she says. “I've actually been listening to lots of house music lately while I've been cooking, because I'm living alone for the first time in my own place.”

Lunny’s live music journey started humbly when she made her stage debut at the Winnipeg Folk Festival in her hometown, at the tender age of 14.

“It’s been a journey,” she says. “I did piano lessons when I was super young but I actually really disliked them. I begged my parents to take me out because they're just so structured, and I didn't like the idea of having to play what's in front of me. I would rather just sit down and make something up. 

"I’m grateful for those lessons because it drew me to the piano, but then my dad would just always leisurely pick up a guitar and play it around the house at the weekend, so I asked him to teach me four or five chords. I wouldn't say I'm a renowned guitar player, but I know enough to get by, and so I just started gigging locally and playing at a bunch of cafes and bars and restaurants.”

Things really started getting real when Lunny was invited to support Lionel Richie on his Hello World Tour in Toronto in 2019.

“A lot of stuff happened in between, but then opening for Lionel Richie was just crazy,” she says. “Apparently this woman heard one of my songs on the radio, and there wasn't originally supposed to be an opening slot, but she was the head up at Live Nation and just said, ‘Hey, do you want to support Lionel Richie in four days?’ I was like ‘of course!’, so I put a band together for the first time and we kind of winged it, but I think it worked out!”

Last summer Lunny found herself collaborating with rapper and internet personality Bhad Bhabie on a song called VIBE CHECK, which has performed well across streaming platforms since its release.

we were googling Gen-Z slang terms because we were talking about how we feel old.

“I think that was around last April or so,” she recalls. “I'd written the song with my friend AJ, and the same thing happened - it all started with a theme. This is hilarious, but we were just googling Gen-Z slang terms because we were just talking about how we feel old, even though I'm still quite young… there's so many trends and things are going so quickly. So we're just searching words, landed on vibe check, and thought that’s kind of cool, so that ended up being the chorus.

“It’s quite an interesting song for me; I wouldn't say it sounds like anything I've ever really done before, it’s slower and quite provocative. Then I was just scrolling on TikTok and we had the idea of having a female feature, because it’s quite an empowering song. I thought Bhad Bhabie would be a good fit, so my team reached out and she apparently really liked the song. She laid down a verse and then the song came out! I’m super pumped that she’s on there; she's got a lot of character!”

As we round up the conversation, Lunny reveals that she has in fact been in the studio recently collaborating with another artist, but she can’t reveal who just yet:

“Someone who I'm really excited about is going to be on one of the songs coming out on the EP,” she says. “It's just so fun to hear people give your song new life.”