ArtistMax Featured Artist Interview | Olivia Penalva

by Candice Anne Marshall

ArtistMax – Hello Olivia Penalva! Welcome to the brand new ArtistMax Featured Artist blog! We are thrilled to be showcasing your talent as well as talking to you about your experience with ArtistMax! First, let’s begin with you. Tell us about your career journey from the time you began singing to this moment in time.

Olivia – When I began singing, I always knew I loved music, but I never really knew I was capable of making a career out of it. When I was eleven, I had never sung or performed before, but for some reason I decided to work up the courage to get on stage of a local singing competition. I was pretty pudgy, little and had the biggest tooth gap, but I made the top twelve that year, and after that I never wanted to be off a stage. Now, at this moment in tie, I’m travelling, performing, and constantly making new music. It makes me really happy.

ArtistMax – What keeps you inspired in your career?

Olivia – What keeps me inspired is the people who listen to my music everyday. It’s the most motivating feeling to release new music and see the views and comments increase over time. Not only my fans though, but my family and friends. They are the inspiration to my music and what I write about, without them I wouldn’t be able to create the things I love most.

ArtistMax – In delving into the bio on your website, we saw that there are some major accomplishments you have made. Congrats! Can you share some of your most memorable with our new readers?

Olivia – I am really proud to say that in only such little time, I have done a lot in my career. The most memorable as of right now would be my song Skyline hitting top 40 all across Canada on all formats of Canadian radio. I remember last year after so much hard work, I received a phone call from my radio promoter saying I had won ‘Bell Media Future Star’. That means that your song will be played all over Canada on all Bell Media stations. It was something I had worked really hard to earn and when they called me, it was the last thing I was expecting. Usually you can only win it once, but about a month later, I got another phone call while driving to school, saying that I had won it a second month in a row. It was a complete shock for me because that’s never really happened to anyone before. I felt very honored, proud but most of all thankful.

ArtistMax –We are very excited to about your Christmas single ‘Dream You Home’ (released November 9th)! When did you first begin writing this song and what is it about?

Olivia- I wrote ‘Dream You Home’ back In June. I wanted to write a new Christmas song this year, because my original one, Christmas For Two, which I released three years ago was starting to sound really young and I wanted something refreshing and new. It’s always hard on the holidays to be away from those you love, and considering I have a lot of family, we can’t always be together all at once. This song is about Dreaming you are with the people you love and miss when you can’t be with them and I am super excited to see how this It does this year.

ArtistMax – We would love to feature your song on our site – is there going to be a music video released on the same day or close to the same time as the song release?

Olivia – YES! There will be a music video, but it won’t be released until December first. Because I released Dream You Home a bit early, for radio promotion reasons, I wanted to get people even more excited for the video by waiting closer to Christmas. We’ve already filmed it and I just saw the final cut, and cannot wait for everyone else to see it!

ArtistMax – Who did you produce the single with?

Olivia – I produced the song with an amazing friend of mine from Nashville, Robin Gosh. We work together on so many projects and wrote the song together as well, and he’s one of the most talented people I know. We met When I was really young in LA, and have been working together ever since.

ArtistMax – Do you have any other siblings in your home who also delve in music?

Olivia – I have two Siblings, a brother and a sister. Neither of them do anything musical but both have really nice voices. My sister and I have done some Christmas covers on my YouTube before and am trying to convince her to do more with me. For the most part we all do our own things but are really supportive of one and other.

ArtistMax – What has been the greatest complement you have been paid since beginning your career as an Artist?

Olivia – The greatest compliment is probably that I am humble. I was raised to always be that way and it has really impacted my career in an amazing way. It is important to be proud of your work and promote it, but alongside that would be humbleness. It is funny, because most of my schoolmates don’t really know what I do because I don’t really tell people unless they know and ask or hear me sing somewhere. I like keeping that part of my life a little separated.

ArtistMax – What radio stations would you like to give a shout-out to for being supportive of your music?

Olivia – This is a hard one because there are so many I’d like to thank for all of their support and love. From the top of my head, 103.5 QMFM from Vancouver. They have shown me so much support on a bunch of my songs, especially Skyline and Christmas For Two and have an amazing team of people.

ArtistMax – What has the media response been like to your music? Who would you like to acknowledge in media for supporting your career to date?

Olivia – My YouTube page has been where I get most of my media response. I love releasing My covers and originals on there. I have the most supportive fans, and I never really get much negativity. It’s nice to have an online family of people who love what you do and respond to your videos with such kindness and appreciation.

ArtistMax – We saw that you also are ‘giving back’ to the Salvation Army with 100% of the proceeds of your song ‘Fight For You’ going to the organization. That’s amazing! Why did you choose the Salvation Army?

Olivia – I love giving back to the community whenever I can. I believe that’s one of the most important things you can do and I’m very passionate about it. In the winter, especially where I’m from in the Okanagan, it gets extremely cold for those living on the streets. If you have seen the music video for ‘Fight for you’, I wanted to incorporate the idea of helping those in need and the salvation army seemed like the perfect organization to team up with after finishing the video.


ArtistMax – Can you tell us what it was like attending an ArtistMax event in Los Angeles?

Olivia – It was surreal. Artistmax was so much fun and I met so many amazing people. I honestly had no clue what it was going to be like until I got there. At first, I was a bit nervous but after only three days, I met so many people who I still love to talk to. The opportunities Artistmax gives young artists like myself is amazing and I am so thankful for everyone from Artistmax.

ArtistMax – You won your VIP Scholarship via Starlight Music Chronicles after winning their Teen Artist of the Year 2016 competition! That’s a huge win too – what did you think when you found out you won a scholarship to our program?

Olivia – I was mind blown. I didn’t know what the prize was when I won so when I heard that it was a Scholarship to Artistmax, I was really Humbled and appreciative. Because of Starlight Music Chronicles and winning the teen Artist of the year, I was given the opportunity of a life time and will always be so thankful.

ArtistMax – What were your thoughts on the kind of mentoring you received from Ken Caillat and the other prestigious industry professionals at the event?

Olivia – It was really amazing to hear advice form people like Ken Caillat who have been in this industry for so long. I love his daughters’ music, so to have him listen and critique our songs was extremely overwhelming in such a good way. Between him, David Foster, and all the other amazing Artists We heard from, I was blessed. The work they do at Artistmax was amazing and I highly recommend to all aspiring artists to attend.

ArtistMax – What do you think were or are the most important tips you learned at the event that you have applied to your career to date?

Olivia – I learnt that you need good connections. I’ve been really fortunate in my Career to know so many amazing people like Andrew Allen, one of my greatest friends and mentors who has been in the industry for so long. You may have heard his top ten song ‘Loving You Tonight’. Those connections have really changed me as an artist. Artistmax also taught me to put yourself out there as much as possible. I perform a lot, but it was an amazing reminder than you can never get out there, too much.

ArtistMax – Would you ever attend another event?

Olivia – I 100% would. I don’t know when I would, but I would love to. It is great to get out there and meet more young artists and learn new things. When the time comes, I will totally be there.

ArtistMax – We are not sure if you are aware, but we are officially accepting registrations until January 31st, 2018 for our ArtistMax alumni and newly registered Artists (for the March 2018) event for our Contest. The contest is an online voting event which is partly fan voted and judge voted. The winner will open for a Celebrity in a huge concert event in June 2018. Are you going to register for it? We would love to see you entered! (click here for contest details)

Olivia – I have been thinking about it! I think it would be a really cool and amazing thing. I have not gotten around to it yet, because I’ve been so busy with music, but I would love to register soon.

ArtistMax – If you could add one thing to the ArtistMax events, what would that be and why?

Olivia – When I attended it was only a three-day event. I think If It was a five-day event it would be ever better. Three days felt so short even though we had really long days and worked really hard. It was sad to say goodbye to all the amazing artists I met, and would have loved to have two days longer to get to know them.

ArtistMax – If you could change one thing about the ArtistMax events what would that be and why?

Olivia – Honestly, Nothing! Artistmax is doing an amazing job, and more people should know about it! I love how they got people from all across the world in one place, to create something amazing and unforgettable. I wouldn’t change a thing.

ArtistMax – What would you say to anyone considering attending our events?

Olivia – I would tell everyone that you can never do too much and learn too much. If you are thinking that you can attend something like this anywhere, you are wrong. This program is so amazing and is honestly a once in a lifetime opportunity that not all people are fortunate enough to attend. If you want experience and opportunity to put yourself and your music out there, You one hundred and twenty percent should go to Artistmax.


ArtistMax – What has been the biggest challenge for you personally in building your career?

Olivia – I have to say it would be balancing my social and personal life from my music life. Because I started at age eleven, I didn’t really realize the amount of work I would be putting into my career. It was hard at first if I had to travel to LA and I’d be missing some social activity at school with my friends. As I’ve grown up, it seems a little silly to me now that I felt that way but starting so young, there is a lot to learn and grow into and I am happy to put music first.

ArtistMax – What do you think the music industry is lacking in terms of support?

Olivia – I think the industry is lacking in more support for unsigned artists. Especially radio. That’s why Artistmax is so great because it supports people like myself who are not signed.

ArtistMax – What things do you feel are positive in the music industry today?

Olivia – Spotify is a huge asset for independent artists. Maybe not as much for Artists who are signed to labels and rely on the money, but coming from the perspective of someone who is working to earn fans and listeners, Spotify is a huge contributor. When you are added to a playlist through Spotify, it opens many doors for new ears and opportunities. The best thing you can do is put yourself out there.

ArtistMax – What social media platform are you most active on and why?

Olivia – I would say Instagram because I enjoy that everything is in one place, but over the last couple of months, I’ve really expanded what platforms I’ve been using, For example YouTube, my blog and twitter.

ArtistMax – Do you write all your own music?

Olivia – Yes. I’ve only ever once had a song written for me, but nothing ever happened with that song. Usually I co-write and write alone, but all my songs are original, and I love writing.

ArtistMax – What instrument(s) are you proficient in?

Olivia – I play guitar the most. Its my instrument when I write and perform. I do love piano and I am self taught by ear, but I’ve never played it live.

ArtistMax – Who would you love to do a co-write with and why?

Olivia – This may be a far shot lol, but I love Ed Sheeran and his music. I would die if I was given the opportunity to write with him. I love how all of his songs tell stories and that’s one of my biggest inspirations as an artist.

ArtistMax – Alright, final question: what does the term ‘success’ mean to you?

Olivia – To me, Success does not mean you need to be famous or make a lot of money. Although those things seem like pretty cool ideas, if that’s how one needs to think to run their career, it usually doesn’t work. I used to have aspirations like that when I was younger, but now success in my mind is having amazing fans who love my music, and honestly, overall happiness. I know I don’t need those things to be successful, because as long as my music makes others happy, it makes me happy.

Thank-you Olivia!


‘Dream You Home’ song review by Randy Wayne Belt

I’ll admit I love the Hallmark Christmas movies.  There’s something about that time of year that makes even the mediocre movies seem good or magical.  But the best ones always have great music behind them. Olivia Penalva‘s new Christmas song ‘Dream You Home‘ would fit well as a background track for one of the well produced Hallmark Christmas movies, or any other, for that matter. This song is far beyond mediocrity.

Olivia, who hails from Vernon, BC in Canada, has put together quite a gem with this new song.  It has that magical sparkle to it in the underlying arrangements.  It is not as much an in-your-face Christmas song as it is capturing the spirit behind the season, making it perfect for placement in any Christmas or Holiday movie.  The chorus of the song is very memorable and powerful and even having this as a background track would make any movie even better. (Great tracks can MAKE a great movie)

Not only does the song have a great mix of sounds based around a sort of shuffle march type drum beat on the verses but the lyrics are well written and paint a perfect picture of what she is trying to convey.

My favorite lyric in ‘Dream You Home‘ is ‘The light in your soul shines brighter than gold in my heart – that’s where you are.’

The images invoked by the song could be any number of situations. It could be a lost loved one or a significant other who is separated by distance or time, or even a soldier gone in a far away land during the Christmas Season and the song is almost like the soldiers’ spouse singing to bring him home even if it’s only at home in the heart.

The song does indeed grab your heart and imagination, which is, to me, the ultimate goal of a song – to speak to anyone or everyone in any situation. This is one more thing that makes it an easy shoo in for anyone considering it for a spot in a Christmas movie.

Often, it is this time of year when many find themselves missing a loved one in some capacity, and it isn’t always the best time for many, but even still and even if you are not into Christmas or the spirit of it, and even if you are the Grinch himself, this song still weighs in on its own merit as a song with a powerful chorus that demands attention and speaks to the soul.

This isn’t Olivia’s first Christmas song. I reviewed ‘Christmas For Two which was published in Starlight Music Chronicles’ December issue back in 2015 which can be found (here) as well as on my own blog (here). (see video below)

Since that time Olivia has progressed even further as an Artist and has honed even further her vocal and songwriting skills. Recently reaching a million plays on Spotify, her newer music bears out how far she’s grown since then.

Her voice still has that same special warmth to it but with a sultry yet still innocent sound that will capture your ears, heart, and will leave a memorable impression when you hear it.  I compared her voice before, in a sense to that of Nora Jones, or Colbie Caillat.  In fact, since the last review, Olivia was able to be mentored by Colbie Caillat after winning teen artist of the year in the Starlight Music Chronicles “Artist of the Year Contest” in 2016.

As a winner, Olivia got to attend ArtistMax an Artist Development program in L.A. in March 2017. Artist Max was dreamed up by legendary Producer and Engineer Ken Caillat (Fleetwood Mac Rumours) and was mentored there by Ken and Colbie Caillat, and David Foster in L.A.


Olivia Penalva Social Media Links (click to view)






ArtistMax Website

Dream You Home on Spotify

Olivia Penalva SMC 2016 TEEN Artist of the Year