Washington DC-born, UK-bred, and of Haitian and Cameroonian heritage, Olivier St. Louis developed an appreciation for a range of different cultures while studying in the remote countryside of England through his early years. Now residing in Berlin – a prolific European hub for music, previewing the upcoming album, he releases Wondering Wanderer.
Following his UK tour with Laura Mvula, and releasing a collaborative EP with Bibio – gaining critical acclaim from Pitchfork and more – Olivier St. Louis (née Daysoul) exhibits diversity through his musical abilities. Collaborating and touring worldwide with the likes of Hudson Mohawke, Oddisee, C2C, Onra, Jazzanova (on upcoming album The Pool) and more, illustrates the artist’s unbounded musical capabilities, reflective in his eclectic upbringing and songwriting. Formerly an underground electro hip-hop scene advocate, through deep introspection, Olivier discovered a love for blues, rock and funk – fitting genres for his potent, wide-ranged vocals – he goes on to finding a classification of his own.
Hey Olivier – welcome to BBM. What’s the most exciting thing that’s happened to you so far this year?
Besides the start of this music release campaign, a new found love for good whisky. I finally started my collection.
For those who haven’t heard your music yet, how would you best describe your sound?
My music is a series of influences, but at base value it’s rooted in blues rock, funk and soul.
How did the project Olivier St. Louis materialise?
I started off in music as a session singer and songwriter for other artists and producers. I could lend my vocals to a variety of styles of music so it worked quite well. However, I wasn’t building a brand for myself. It’s after that realisation, that I decided to take a break from session work and be introspective about what I identify with musically. There I discovered my love for all things guitar, blues -rock and funk. Thus Olivier St. Louis was born.
Where did you write ‘Wondering Wanderer’?
I wrote Wondering Wanderer while living in Oxford, England on my make-shift studio in my living room. (I have a home in the U.K.)
How does everyday life in Berlin differ with somewhere like Washington?
Every day life between the two cities is not too dissimilar in terms of what they offer. The difference lies in the extremities of the attributes they share. Washington D.C. is a place known primarily for its government and corporate entities. Capitol hill, The White House , IMF etc etc. With a rising presence in more innovative and more current cultural interests. i.e interesting places to eat, shop, see museums and enjoy artisan coffee, etc. Berlin is more the opposite. Despite also being a governmental hub, it is more known for the latter (including a popular reputation for night life), there is an increase in the rise of major cooperations and start-ups setting up base in Berlin. So along with the attraction of the artsy, fun seeking, party-goer, comes the influx of young, highly skilled migrant professionals with young families and intentions to stay long term.
Do you think your upbringing influences your sound at all?
Absolutely, I was fortunate enough to be an African-American with an opportunity to study abroad in the U.K. (I went to boarding school). So during my formative years, I had exposure to hip-hop (Wu Tang and Nas), RnB (D’Angelo) and funk (Prince and Parliament ) at home in DC. In the same breath at school in the UK it was chart music (mostly pop cheese and rock) that my friends were listening to in our dorm rooms. I would be hearing a mix of the new and old. Friends of mine were playing Nirvana, Radiohead and in the same selection The Beatles and Creedence Clearwater Revival. This has all made its way back in to my music.
When was the last time you had a proper holiday and where did you go?
Closest thing to a holiday, I’m actually having now. I’m in the blackforest near Stuttgart, Germany. As a constantly touring musician, the greenery and the quiet is breathtaking and appreciated.
Who would be your dream collab?
My Dream Collab would have been Prince and/or Van Hunt.
Name a record you couldn’t live without?
Miles Davis ‘Kinda Blue’ . That record is necessary. It’s one of the most complete bodies of work I’ve heard.
Olivier St. Louis – Wondering Wanderer OUT NOW
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