At just 22 years of age, Olivia Dorato has released two albums, one EP and is waiting for the right time to introduce the world to her third album. She produced 17 songs during a global pandemic and has become the voice of Monaco’s heroes at the forefront of the health crisis.
Monaco Life caught up with the young Monegasque to talk about her brave decision to move away from a predictable life in law to the very uncertain and exciting life of a singer/songwriter.
Monaco Life: Have you always had a passion for music? What are your earliest memories of enjoying music?
Olivia Dorato: I think so. My parents tell me I used to sing rather than talk. There was a decisive moment when I was playing a game with my best friend and sister and I wrote a song titled ‘Rigoler’ (Nothing). I realised at that exact moment that I was actually a song writer, that I had something in me that makes me want to produce, create and compose music. I was around eight years old at the time.
Did you go on to study to music or singing?
I never studied music at school. I have always just taken my guitar and played something every day for at least one hour, to train and be the best I can be. That is why I believe that what I have is a real gift. But I have also worked very hard to be where I am.
What is it about the process of writing songs and composing music that you love?
I think music is really something that makes me happy. Without music I feel my life would have no real meaning. I am lucky to have found something that makes me happy every single day.
Did you always want to make a career out of music?
I actually studied to be a lawyer at university. Even when I received my law degree in 2019, I knew that music was my entire life. I tried to find the strength to do music full time, and it was pretty hard and I felt guilty of course, but I did it. And honestly, it is the best decision I have ever made.
That’s a very brave move. Did your parents support you in that decision?
I am so lucky because without them, nothing would have happened. My parents were very understanding and they were the ones who told me: “Olivia, if music makes you happy, just do it. Now is the right time, and if you don’t try it you will regret it for the rest of your life. Even if you fail, you will have tried and that is the most important part.” So, I did.
How old were you when you released your first album?
I released my first album at 14, then I released my second one at 17. I had a pause for my studies, and now my new EP has just been released.
How has your music evolved over the years, from that first album to this latest EP?
When I listen to my first album now, I can really see the improvement and the evolution of my music. And although I may think “Oh my god, that is terrible”, to be honest I wouldn’t change a thing. Of course, the vocals are better now, the music is better, and the quality of the production is better. Which is fortunate, I guess.
Who are your influences in music?
(Laughing) I am a huge fan of Justin Bieber, because of the quality of his production and the fact he always tries to stand out from other artists. But Harry Hudson has been the biggest inspiration over the past few years. He overcame cancer and he actually gave me the strength to put my studies on hold and try my luck in music. I also like Charlie Puth because he is a genius, and also Billie Eilish because she really has her own thing going on and she’s in her own universe.
You produce songs in both English and French. Do you write and compose differently for each language?
For me, it has always been easier to write in English, because the words come easier. In French, you always have to be so serious. For example, in English you can say: “Butterfly, fly away”, but in French that sounds silly. I really like to write in English but if I want to be famous in France, I have to write in French. So, I make songs in both languages, and I think I have found a good balance between the two.
You were awarded l’Artiste de Monaco 2020 in November, produced and sang ‘Love the Ocean’ for the OceanoScientific project, and also wrote and performed a song about frontline workers during the Covid epidemic. How did this last collaboration come about?
I was contacted a few months ago by one of the Prince’s Carabinier, Major Olivier Drean, and asked if I could do something for the National Day celebration. He wanted me to write a song about all the people who have been working hard during the crisis, and I said ‘sure that’s a great idea’. I love to use my music to help others and shine a light on them.
The idea was to play the song live on National Day in front of the Palace, and until the very last moment we thought it was possible. But then I got a call that said we couldn’t do it because of everything going on, so we shot a music video instead, which in itself was an enormous task.
You must feel very patriotic to be able to do this for your country?
I feel so proud that they chose me to do this. I feel very lucky and happy to be able to show that Monaco has an existence through music. I really want to grow that perspective of Monaco, and this is the first step. I am extremely proud to be Monegasque.
What is next for Olivia Dorato?
I would like to release an album which I have already recorded. Initially, the release of the EP was planned for June 2020 but the recording couldn’t be done because of lockdown. So, when it was lifted, I recorded 17 tracks in the studio in almost a month, which is incredible. But I have to wait for the right time to release the album because the music world is struggling now, and it’s quite frustrating. So, the album is planned for release in 2021, but I have no specific date yet.
Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
I see myself touring the world and living for my music. I see myself on stage, writing songs, having a family, being happy and doing what I love, and still trying to help people with my gift.
Top photo of Olivia Dorato by Christophe Paitrault