Courtesy of Olive
CHAT WITH OLIVE
I was dating a gal who liked the techno and turned me onto Olive. It ain't
my bag of tea, but papa had to get a brand new bag. I talked to Ruth-Ann
and Tim from the UK via tele and we spoke about Olive and as always, however
brief this intro is (about as long as the relationship between
myself and the before mentioned unnamed member of the finer sex), as always
unedited and in their own words.
FRED JUNG: Let's start from the beginning.
RUTH-ANN: I sampled for another band called Durutti Column, well, a guy
called Vini Reilly, who is Durutti Column basically and Tim heard me through
that. He played it as a sample at a gig and he phoned me up and asked me
to come over and sing for him. The next thing I knew, we were in Olive and
Olive had started.
TIM KELLETT: When I was a kid, I was taught to play the trumpet, so that
is what I did really. That is what I went to school for and stuff. I played
the piano as well. I wanted to basically be in an orchestra. I went to a
conservatory in Manchester with the trumpet. That is what I did. A year
in, I met Mick Hucknall and left college and joined Simply Red and did that
for ten years and then left that to get something for myself really. That
is how all this came about. After Simply Red, also around my college time,
I started playing with a band and Ruth sung on one of the albums, but after
I had stopped working with that band. For some reason or another, I was
holed into a tour and I had to learn some of the new stuff that I hadn't
heard before and that is how I heard Ruth's voice. We both kind of played
with that band, but at different points and time. It gave me an opportunity
to hear her voice. It was by accident really.
FJ: Seems like a whirlwind musical romance.
RUTH-ANN: Yeah, definitely. He'd written songs and had them all ready and
everything and it was kind of an audition I suppose and I went in and sang
it and I loved the song straight away and he really liked the voice and
so that was it.
FJ: What was the song?
RUTH-ANN: It was "Miracle," which is on the first album (Extra
FJ: Tim, how do you go from classical trumpet charts to Simply Red?
TIM KELLET: It was a big jump, but I already had my own little band. I was
into horn sections at the time and so I had my own band with a horn section.
We were into R&B and funk and bands like Defunkt and that sort of stuff.
We were called Rebop and we did shows around Manchester. That is how I met
Mick, because he heard us play.
RUTH-ANN: People like Joni Mitchell and Rickie Lee Jones. I liked very honest
voices. I don't like all this operatic diva stuff that is going on. I like
Stevie Wonder, songwriting wise. He is fantastic. People like that really,
really impress me. Anyone really. I like all sorts of music.
FJ: Knowing how discerning the British listening public is, it must have
been difficult initially gaining any sort of a foothold?
RUTH-ANN: Yeah, it is pretty difficult in England to get a gig if you haven't
got a record company and you haven't got a record really. Unless you go
into like local pubs and stuff like that, people just won't turn up. They
have to really know who you are.
FJ: What the lack of reception discouraging?
RUTH-ANN: No, I don't think so because the way the music was produced was
quite electronic anyways and so we knew that we were going to have to have
the music on radio first before we could do any gigs. That was our main
priority in the beginning.
FJ: How is the new album, Trickle, different from that of your debut release,
RUTH-ANN: We made the second album for RCA and dropped us and Maverick liked
all the songs on it and said, "We love it."
TIM KELLETT: I think this one is a more collection of songs, whereas the
first album was a journey from beginning to end. It was perhaps a bit more
self-indulgent, a bit more atmospheric. This one, I think it is more down
the line, twelve pop songs. There you go. I still think it hangs together
well as a body of work. It is definitely a song based recording, whereas
the first one was very much a thing of the time. Looking back, I love it,
but perhaps we were starting to go up our own asses. This one is a more
honest collection of songs.
FJ: Why remake Ten CC's "I'm Not in Love?"
RUTH-ANN: Well, two reasons really. The main one was that it was a peacemaker
really between us and RCA. It was went it was starting to get very negative
and we were starting to worry about we weren't going to get our album out
and everything, so we thought that we would do a cover and see if they like
that. Anyway, they didn't (laughing). The other reason was that Tim's wife
just suggested it. When we started to do it, we all really enjoyed it. It
sounded good with the Olive sort of style.
FJ: Sounds like there was quite a bit of animosity towards the conclusion
of your deal between you and RCA?
RUTH-ANN: Between the UK RCA, not here. They were fine here. They supported
us really well over here in RCA US. They were great. But in the UK, we just
didn't have any support. They weren't interested. They weren't really willing
to make any compromises and we had tried to do some compromises, but they
weren't interested so we weren't very happy with them.
FJ: And who could blame you.
RUTH-ANN: Oh, yeah.
FJ: Tour plans?
TIM KELLETT: Yeah, I think we will probably return very soon to do a proper
tour. This one is mainly promotional. I think we are playing live three
times, which is no good at all because you can't really get into the swing
of it. At some point, I'm sure they will have us on one of those tour where
we live on a bus and it is a show every night and we travel on to the next
place. We need to do that. That is one of the ways of getting our music
out to the areas where all this promotion and stuff probably won't reach
anyway. I reckon that is around the corner. We have also got to consider
England because our album is not released there yet. It will be soon. That
is also a necessity. We have to play live there as well.
FJ: Your sound has been described as trip-hop or techno, but you shy away
from any kind of categorization.
TIM KELLETT: I just don't think it is necessary to say what you are. This
is what you are and this is the name for it. We are just musicians making
music and of course what we come up with will be governed my our musical
taste. That can change over the years anyway. Our first album is different
from this one. I would never stop and worry about what we are supposed to
be called. It is just not important.
FJ: Electronica is really taking off in the States and it has been solid
in the UK for years now, what do you attribute that to?
RUTH-ANN: I think people are just sick of hearing regurgitated pop songs
all the time. The same sort of thing, all the boy bands and all the girl
bands and it is like, "OK, we want something else now." Dance
music has been very popular in England and in Europe for years now. I think
that is the main reason really. People are just bored with what's been there
for some time now. They just want something new and something that you can
TIM KELLETT: For Olive, it has got to be one of our strongest territories
because we had a number one there. We sold a fair few albums in England.
FJ: That kind of success brings a good many expectations.
TIM KELLETT: I am slightly concerned about it. When you have had a number
one, the only place to go is down or equal it. Unless you are the Spice
Girls, that is a rarity. We are not hoping for anything as silly as a number
one. In retrospect, having a number one in England held us back a bit because
people change their perception of you immediately when you have a number
one. To the press, you are fair game. They will try and knock you down.
It is better to have some mediocre results and to just build it slowly.
We were blessed with this number one thing, but eventually, it was a weight
around our neck. I would just hope for some good results in the charts because
it is important in England to go in quite high and to steadily sell some
records and build a profile. That success lasts longer, I think.
FJ: So you are not a Spice Girls fan?
RUTH-ANN: (Laughing) No, I'm not.
FJ: A good deal of electronica utilizes samples, are you opposed to that?
TIM KELLETT: No, we use samples, but we tend to make our own. The sampler
is not a tool to be afraid of if it is used properly. If you are just going
to chuck out stuff that is ripped off of other people's records, then you
can be creative with that, but it is more difficult. What we tend to do
is record everything and then chop it up and put it into the computer and
manipulate it like a sampler can and would. But that is not to say that
we wouldn't use a sample that sounds good, that could work.
FJ: How has technology been able to benefit what you do? Let's take what
you had at your fingertips five years ago and what you are able to employ
TIM KELLETT: It is a different world, a completely different world. Those
computers that were kind of industry standard were the Ataris, in England
anyway. The software was so crude and so basically that everything took
forever. Now, there are no boundaries. There are no limits. You can do anything
on a computer. It is the same with the world of art as well, commercial
art. Without a computer, it would be a completely different world. It is
really important that you embrace it, rather than saying that you are going
to record it as it always was done. There are so many great things to be
achieved by using technology as long as you don't let it rule you.
FJ: Have you met Madonna?
RUTH-ANN: We haven't met her yet. Apparently, she came to a gig when we
were in Germany and touring with a band called Faithless and she came to
a gig and went up in the VIP area, so nobody saw her. She came back to America
and said how she liked this band and luckily for us, she was a fan because
we ended up signing to her record company, which is so much more comfortable
for our kind of music, really.
FJ: Are you doing much songwriting?
RUTH-ANN: Not a lot, but I have got about four on this album, on the new
album, Trickle, which has been really good for us. It has helped get the
confidence up. Tim has been really helpful and it has been great. hope to
write a lot more on the next album.
TIM KELLETT: I'm so involved in it. I am pleased with the songs on this
record. There were some good ones on the last one. For me, it is vital to
find out from the fans, really, the people that have got both and what they
think of the second one because that's where you are going to get the truth.
FJ: What has been the reception so far?
TIM KELLETT: So far, people say that they like it. They really like it.
We have not have anybody say that they prefer the first one. I'm sure that
there will people that do because that is always the case isn't it, Fred?
FJ: What do you use for inspiration?
RUTH-ANN: Only things that I know about. That is the only thing that I can
FJ: Tim, as a parent, what are your concerns?
TIM KELLETT: I suppose I just want to make sure that my kids grow up as
nice individuals with confidence that they can do what they want to do,
that they have got confidence. I know that I grew up in a family where confidence
was really low on the agenda. I wasn't brought up to necessarily believe
in myself. Luckily, I did anyway. I kind of survived it. I think that in
the early stages of bringing up a child, you can really set that in place
firmly, that if you work hard enough, you can achieve your goals. Just confident,
nice people, I want them to be. If I can help that happen, I will.
FJ: So you are confident in your stage of life?
TIM KELLETT: I haven't reached my goal, but I am confident. I'm pleased
with how I am in the workplace in terms of confidence. I'm perfectly confident.
I know what I do, I do well. If people don't like it, tough. That is what
I do. I don't have many insecurities with what I do for a job. Having said
that, get me to stand up and make a speech in front of a few hundred people
and I will be like a piece of jelly.
FJ: No apologies.
TIM KELLETT: No. No.
FJ: Ruth, are you single?
RUTH-ANN: I am not, I am afraid (laughing). I've got a boyfriend, but if
he don't behave himself, I might not (laughing).
FJ: Is it difficult holding down a relationship with your hectic lifestyle?
RUTH-ANN: It is tougher for him than it is for me. That has to be said.
I love going on tour and seeing new places and meeting different people
and everything. Unfortunately for him, he is stuck at home. It is more difficult
for him. He is an understanding guy and he's been working and so he's not
FJ: An idle mind is the devil's playground.
RUTH-ANN: Oh, definitely (laughing).
Fred Jung is the Editor-In-Chief and believes it's not butter. Comments?