Ols is a one-woman project founded by Anna Olchawa, and she, in fact, composes, writes lyrics, sings and plays all the instruments. Here at FemMetal, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity of interviewing such a talented person, and here is what we talked about.
Hello Anna! How are you doing?
Hello! I’m good but quite busy, to be honest 😉 A few weeks ago, I was sent on a delegation to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, and I’m still adapting. I work a lot, and on the weekends I do a lot of sightseeing, trying to visit all the interesting places here. It’s good, though, that now I have to focus on the non-artistic aspects of my life because it would allow me to reset mentally before I start thinking about the next material.
You have recently released your fourth album, “Pustkowia”, and it is so original and remarkable. How was the general feedback you have got from your fans and the press?
Thank you for the kind words! So far, I’m getting very positive feedback. People seem to like the darker version of Ols. The new material is very diverse, so fans of many different styles of music can find something for themselves in it. On the new album, my metal influences come to the surface; there are heavier guitars and bass lines, growls, screams, and more dynamic parts. On the other hand, there are also melancholic ballads and slow ambient fragments. Ols has never been easy to categorize into any particular music genre, but I think anyone who likes dark, atmospheric, emotional music can appreciate it. I believe that emotional authenticity is a factor that brings people closer to Ols.
I really like the structure you give to your songs. Can you walk me through the process you use to create them?
Usually, first, there is a short musical theme playing in my head over and over again. Then I start adding more and more layers to the original motif. When I more or less know what can be done with this musical thread, I start to play with it – this time, no longer only in my mind. I record the main theme and start singing along to it, recording subsequent tracks… When the draft of the song is done, I add additional instruments, some samples and more vocals – whatever seems fitting… That’s how I end with tons of tracks to be recorded for each of my songs 🙂
Creative ideas often come to my mind while hiking in the mountains and forests – then I can focus on my own thoughts, hypnotize myself with the rhythm of my own steps and allow my brain to develop creative visions completely freely.
What was the role of music in the early years of your life?
When I was a child, I was a member of the local church choir. I remember that from an early age, I spontaneously sang additional vocal harmonies to the main melodies sung by the rest of the children. This is a gift I’ve always had. That’s why Ols is based on polyphonic vocal harmonies. It’s natural for me. As a child, I also attended a music school where I learned to play the flute and piano. Music was also very important in my home. Virtually every family member can sing or play an instrument, so we often sang and played together. As a young teenager, I was one of the singers and a keyboard player in a cover band founded with my sister. We were the young stars of every local event in those days 😉 Then I left home for high school, and unfortunately, we didn’t have many more opportunities to make music together, which is a pity because she has always been my favourite singing partner.
Do you remember the first time someone stopped you and recognized you as Ols, the artist? What did you feel?
Of course I remember! And I still feel quite shocked when people do 😉 I usually don’t know what to say, so there is often a moment of awkward silence before I finally gather myself together and reply. I always feel honoured but also a bit strange when that happens. When someone stops me at concerts or festivals, maybe it’s not that surprising, but I’ve even had people recognize me in the supermarket. That was truly weird, especially since I wasn’t wearing any makeup and I was looking completely unlike Ols 😉 Talking about my music with a complete stranger over a shopping basket was a really interesting experience.
What is the last picture you took with your phone?
A picture of a fully illuminated Christmas Market in Luxembourg, with a guy preparing gromperekichelcher for me xD It’s a dish advertised to me as originally Luxemburgish – a kind of potato fritter. I’m not going to break my colleagues’ hearts by telling them that we have almost the same dish in Poland and there is nothing special about it… Let’s keep it a secret and let their blissful ignorance last 😉
What’s a TV show that routinely makes you laugh out loud?
It might be a little embarrassing, but I always laugh out loud watching “What we do in the shadows”. My sense of humour is not that sophisticated, and Taika Waititi’s TV series about vampires is all I need to have a good laugh. I was recently reminded about the existence of “Metalocalypse” and started watching it again. It is so incredibly stupid and yet so true at times it’s impossible for me not to laugh.
The music industry is not an easy place to survive in and much less for women. Do you think there are still disadvantages between the two sexes?
It’s no secret that, contrary to appearances, metal circles are terribly conservative in particular areas. Metal is undoubtedly an environment dominated by men, and many people still think there is no place for girls here. When a girl is trying to make her name in metal, she needs to work twice as hard as her male colleagues. Before being perceived as a musician, she first has to fight sexist stereotypes. It’s still common that the main subject of comments and evaluation is not the music but her look. Girls still can’t own their bodies in the way guys do – their every step is being judged, and there is always something wrong with somebody’s opinion. You can hear sexist jokes, you get unwanted sex offers from strangers, and you receive rude comments about your look, weight and behaviour all the time… I heard that in western countries, the situation is improving, but in Poland is still pretty harsh. I believe that it’s always worse in the most conservative societies… Let’s hope it’s going to change.
Let’s play a little game. If you had to eliminate one for the rest of your life: pizza or ice cream?
That is the question! I love both. I generally love food 🙂 But if I had to choose, I would probably eliminate pizza. For me, ice cream is an essential element of every vacation, and because of that, I have tons of great memories of ice cream somewhere in the picture. Plus, I have a sweet tooth, so I always have room for dessert.
Thank you so much, Anna, for taking the time to do this interview with me! Is there anything else you’d like to add to FemMetal’s readers?
I would like to invite people to discover the world of Ols. It may seem strange, but there are a lot of interesting things in there 😉 Listen to my latest work, “Pustkowia”, follow me on social media and check the music videos I’ve made. I also want to say to all the girls here that you are worthy and can do anything. There’s a place for you in music, metal and wherever you want to be. Just be brave and do what you love. I also want to thank you, Benedetta, for this opportunity to say a few words. It was a pleasure!
Hi! My name is Benedetta, I’m 29 and I live in Northern Italy. My passion has always been music: I started taking guitar lessons when I was 6. Now I work as a sales representative, but in my free time I interview talented people, I spread the word about my favorite band (MoonSun), and I go to concerts or travel around Europe.
I am a huge collector of anything Tolkien-related, autographs, merchandise, and CDs. I am quite an original person and don’t mind being the voice outside of the choir (even though I play in the church’s choir!).