Courtesy of Olive

Warner Bros


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 b
etween 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 Virgin, RCA).

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.

FJ: Influences?

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, Extra Virgin?

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 dance to.

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 today.

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 write about.

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.


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 bored.

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? Email Him