INTERVIEW: Oriel Poole

Hi Oriel, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

I am wonderful, thanks so much!

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Brighter”?

‘Brighter’ is the first song I ever wrote after taking one Ableton and one music theory course at Pyramind in San Francisco. It’s actually the first single I released off the Sunday EP.

“Brighter” is about truly seeing myself, discovering my inner light. It is about shining brighter than I ever initially realized was possible.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

For years I was in denial that music was my calling. The realist in me never wanted to look beyond the doorway – the perceived belief that a music career was too risky – but the inner child in me somehow always knew music was in the plan.

Ironically, I graduated with an interior design degree (specializing in hospitality design – hotels, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, etc.) in the height of the economic collapse, including the collapse of the real estate market, which particularly impacted new hospitality endeavors. I found myself living in NYC as a highly trained designer; someone who was extremely driven, well networked, and awarded first place in a national hospitality design competition all prior to my graduation, but I was left with very little work. Forced to adapt, I took on many freelance jobs in the areas of event production, hospitality management, and design. During that same time I started making songs with friends for fun, and on several occasions various people turned to me and told me to pursue music professionally. At first I was resistant to the risk, but I later realized I had nothing to lose. At that point both careers were equally as challenging to pursue, it simply came down to a matter of heart…and my heart said yes, DO IT!

So thank you 2008 economic collapse, you were the obstacle that allowed me to entertain the possibility of a music career. You were the tower that crumbled and caused me to look inside. You were the catalyst I needed to face my heart and acknowledge from my core being the role I am prepared to take on in this lifetime.

For me, “Brighter” was that pivotal moment, my choice to pursue a professional music career. It was a declaration of my full potential, an exhilarating leap of faith, and a new understanding of me.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

I would love to. I’ve already created a treatment for “Brighter” and now it’s just a matter of lining up the resources to make this video happen.

The single comes off your new EP, Sunday – what’s the story behind the title?

Sunday is the day that I was born. Literally I was born on a Sunday and I feel that figuratively I am born the day I step into my path as a professional artist, and this EP is exactly that declaration for me.

How was the recording and writing process?

All songs were initially produced and written by me. I use Ableton more as a songwriting tool to build the foundation of the music. Sunday was my first attempt to write my own music, so the approach was rather experimental. I started each song by choosing a key at random. Then selected a random BPM and built up the drums beats in a rather chaotic, un-syncopated manner, pilling on the layers, only to then strip them down until I found the right grooves to build upon. Then I decided on which mode the key would work within and wrote the chord progressions.

Coming from no formal training, I learned Ableton at the release of Ableton 9, when the audio to midi conversion was first released. This tool allowed me to use my voice as an instrument; singing melodies with my voice that I later converted into string sections, bass lines, or ornamental elements.

“Homegirl” specifically, was a larger exploration with vocals. I stacked many unusual layers of vocal expressions to produce the song you hear today.

Once I got to the point where the music was written to the best of my ability, I would then work out the vocal melody, harmony, lyrics, and track the vocal. After that I sent the Ableton session to my roommate at the time, Max Savage, who I later brought on to produce the whole EP.

How does your production designing background influence your music and the other way around?

Everything I have ever learned has shaped who I have become. My work ethic, my creative approach, my systematic approach, and my practical experience both working within and managing teams, all lend to my musical process. From a creative standpoint, I’ve learned how to let go of all expectations and discover moments free from critical limitations in order to allow pure expression to come through. During later parts of the creative process, I invite the critic back in and encourage feedback from others. I release any personal attachment to negative feedback and view every challenge as an opportunity to learn.

My professional background has also put me in situations where I am backstage dealing with the talent or artist management. Here I see first hand how the ego can play a role in either the rise or fall of an artist or how the tour manager can either support or hinder an artist’s reputation.

Like design, there are so many parts to the artist and one’s creation – the generation of ideas, the ability to manage the ego and interpersonal roadblocks, the capacity to envision a desirable overcome and understand the steps needed to get there, the diligence to self manage and see a project through to completion, the intuition to know when and where help is needed, the faith to commit even when the tide feels against you, and the courage to move forward no matter what. These are all similarities between the designer and the musician – both are highly creative and highly competitive careers that require a lot of passion to fully commit.

Would you call this a departure from your previous musical projects or a follow up?

Sunday is my first solo body of work. I dabbled in music when I lived in NYC, but it wasn’t until I moved to California that I started to approach songwriting and production more professionally. Since living in CA, I have released music with other artists like Thriftworks, Lotus, and Heather Christie as a featured writer/vocalist; the results are a product of our styles combined.

Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics? 

I have to feel grounded and connected to what I am working on. I write about life in that moment and ideas that move my soul. I love to improvise and play off whatever music is around me (whether that music be my own or someone else’s), the birthing of the vocal idea, melody and tonality, is my favorite part of the process.

Playing with my Boss RC-505 Loop Station is also a fun way to exercise ideas and capture inspiration. I also love non-lyrical singing, exploring a variety phonetics and tones as an art within itself, which you will find worked into some of the songs on the EP.

Any plans to hit the road?

Hopefully soon! I have an agent pitching me for shows as we speak. I would love to do a 10-day run of shows this fall/winter as an opening act for an artist I really respect.

What else is happening next in Oriel Poole’s world?

I’m travelling through the UK at the moment (where I was born) to visit my Dad in Bristol, as well as, share my new music around London. When I get back to LA, I’ll be ready to start the next body of music, take up another songwriting course, and go on tour (hopefully!).

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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