Olivia Rodrigo: 'I'm obsessed with the concept of déjà vu'
03 April 2021
Olivia Rodrigo joins Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1 to discuss her new single 'deja vu', what she learned from the massive success of 'Driver’s License', why the SNL skit was "a dream come true”, how she chose 'deja vu' to follow up 'Driver’s License', her songwriting process, and more.
Olivia Rodrigo Tells Apple Music How 'deja vu' Came To Be… I actually wrote it about a month after writing 'Driver's License'. So I wrote it a really long time ago, I mean, relatively. But I'm sort of obsessed with the concept of déjà vu. Like I really love that concept, I get déjà vu all the time. And so I thought it would be a cool play on words to use déjà vu as a metaphor for this very universal thing that happens when you break up with someone and they get with somebody else, and see them living the life that you lived… Yeah, it's just a super universal thing that I think happens to everyone that we just don't really talk about a tonne.
So I had this line in my phone written for like a while. It says, "When she's with you, do you get déjà vu?” And so I was in the studio with Dan whos my producer and main collaborator, just my favourite guy ever. We were actually trying to write something else. I think we're trying to write like a sad song or something and it just wasn't coming, and he's like, "What else do you have?” And I was like, "Well, I have this line," I just have song lyrics written on my notes app for days. And so I was like, "Oh, I have this line written," and he really liked it. And so we kind of wrote it together and kind of created this whole world. And I really love painting pictures with songs.
Olivia Rodrigo Tells Apple Music What She Learned From The Success of 'Driver’s License'… The success of 'Driver's License' has been a huge lesson in how when you put a song out, you just need to let it go. And it's everyone else's song to interpret, it's not your song anymore. So that was great. And I think I really had a lot of people around me that kind of were driving that message home. And I think I really did that with that one. But it is sort of difficult having that be my first song ever, because the success is so immense, it sort of feels like a little bit of pressure to follow it up and hopefully sustain that success. But I've had 'déjà du' picked out for months. I think we decided really last year, maybe like September or something. And so that was always nice to have that picked out.
Olivia Rodrigo Tells Apple Music Why The SNL Skit Was a Dream Come True… It was so incredible. I am a huge SNL fan. Obviously I think everyone at SNL is so iconic and such an important part of our culture. So they actually didn't tell us before it aired. But I have a friend who has a friend who works on it, and the friend was like, "Oh I think I'm going to do something with 'Driver's License'. And they might cut it, but I think they might.” And so I was like, "Oh cool, I'll watch," expecting them to mention 'Driver's License' off the cuff… And then watching it, I was like, "Oh my God, they literally played the entire song on SNL." And all of the SNL cast numbers that I've grown up watching were singing my lyrics. And it was so fantastic. I think it's just such an honour to be parodied on SNL, and especially in such a complimentary way, it was just really incredible. That was a dream come true that I didn't even know I had. So it was incredible.
Olivia Rodrigo Tells Apple Music How She Decided To Follow Up 'Driver’s License' with 'deja vu'… It was really important to me and to my team that we didn't just put out another ballad after 'Driver's License'. You know what I mean? We wanted to show that I am a very versatile songwriter, and I love all different types of music, and I create all different types of music... And so, yeah, it was sort of just a natural progression, I think it's a nice introduction to all of the other things that I can do.
Olivia Rodrigo Tells Apple Music About The Recording Process For 'deja vu'… I always absolutely hate the first mix every time I listen to it. Even with 'Driver's License', they played it for me for the first time and I was like, "I hate the bridge. The bridge production is all wrong. We have to redo it. We have to start over." I'm super, super self critical. No, this song was a nightmare to mix. God bless the dude who mixes my music, and my A&R, and Dan, because we literally did, I think there were like 30 mixes of the song, legitimately 30 mixes. It's different for me because I think it's not like a vocal driven song necessarily. It has great lyrics, I think, I'm very much a lyrics person, but it's really a lot about the music, and the feeling comes from the music. Not necessarily always the lyrics, which I wasn't used to. And so it took a little bit of trial and error to get it to a place where we were all happy with. But I'm really happy with it now.
Olivia Rodrigo Tells Apple Music About Her Songwriting Process… All of my favourite songwriters are super specific and vivid. And so I definitely try to emulate that. Yeah, I'm the spaciest person that you'll ever meet. Literally I'll be in a group of people just staring at the wall. And I'm always just thinking of random things or ideas and poetry and stuff. And so, yeah I love writing that stuff down. Probably 95% of the stuff that's written in my notes app is just terrible, like the most emo stuff ever, it's just unusable. But there's a couple of gems in there. And I'm a very lyric concept-based songwriter. And so it's just hard for me to play a song when I don't have a lyric idea or a conceptual idea, but I really rely on words like that in my songwriting.
Olivia Rodrigo Tells Apple Music About Her Love of Songwriting… I also just really love writing songs, and it's my favourite thing in the whole world to do. And so I would do it if I had a hit song or if I didn't have a hit song, and I'm just going to be doing it forever. So it sort of takes the pressure out of it. And yeah, I literally just love writing. It doesn't even really feel like work all the time. It's just so therapeutic for me and I've been doing it since I was so little. And so it's just what I do. It's just my life. And so it's just now the only thing that's different is people are listening, which is just so cool.