EXCLUSIVE: Olivia Penalva Chats New EP ‘Assembly Required’

Life can be a lot like building a piece of IKEA furniture. We’re handed a bunch of lessons and experiences and it’s our job to sort out the meaning and discover the pieces that make us who we are. Canadian singer/songwriter Olivia Penalva is beginning to put together her own puzzle on her new EP, Assembly Required

The five track project shares her journey towards self-discovery through graceful storytelling and unfiltered humanity.

We chatted with Olivia about the EP and more!

Congratulations on the release of your new EP Assembly Required! What was it like creating this project?

Thank you so much. Putting this EP together was so much fun. It also taught me a lot about myself. These songs are very personal and very real. Writing them was the best way I could put my feelings into words. I joke that writing It was a form of therapy for me, but that’s kind of what it was. And I figured if it could help me then it might resonate with others as well. I was fortunate to do it with good friends who I could be vulnerable with and without that I don’t think the songs would be what they are. 

What was the inspiration behind the title track? 

“Assembly Required” is my favourite song on the EP. The inspiration behind the song came from the fear that our baggage and insecurities outweigh our ability to be loved and how scary it is to start new relationships with that fear. It’s about finding someone who you love enough to open up to, knowing that they won’t run away. And that by loving you, it might heal you a little bit too. 

Do you have any favorite memories from writing the EP? 

I think one of the best experiences I had with this EP was when we wrote “The Hardest Part of Losing Someone”. It was over zoom because I was on a trip to record this exact EP. There were four of us in the session and initially we started writing a completely different song. But none of us were clicking with it. And a few hours in my co-writer Nolan suggested we start from scratch. He had remembered me sharing about the passing of my grandpa and how the last time I ever saw him was one of the best memories I had of him. But I also shared that it was hard to lose someone because over time you forget things like the way they smell or the way they sound. It felt like something I really wanted to talk about. I think it’s my favourite memory because it was such a last-minute song, and I couldn’t imagine not releasing it. 

On Instagram you wrote that this EP is about “growing up and finding out who we really are.” Did you discover anything new about yourself in writing this EP? 

I discovered a lot about myself while writing this EP. The biggest thing is that I needed to go easier on myself. We put so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect, to look perfect, to be high achievers and earn the greatest success. But success can look different for every person. I can’t say I’ve fully found myself because that changes as life changes, and life changes all the time. But writing this EP surely helped me get closer to who that person is and who I want that person to be.

If you could set fans up in the perfect environment to listen to your new EP, what do you imagine it looking like? 

Let’s take them to a tiny coffee shop in Paris in the fall. Cappuccino in hand and headphones in ear. I can’t decide if I’m saying this because it’s the ideal listening environment or if that’s just where I want to be, but it sounds about right!

How do you hope people feel when listening to the EP?

I just hope people feel heard and understood. We may all be different, but we experience the same feelings, just in different ways. Originally, I wrote these songs for myself, but now they belong to you, and I hope you love them. 

What can fans look forward to next? 

This EP is just the start of a very exciting project for me. It is part one of two EPs and I cannot wait for everyone to hear it all together.

What is one quote that you have heard or that you go by that you want to ECHO out to the world?

“We are what we think” is a quote I love. I chose this one because even when times are hard we need to think kinder of ourselves. We can’t determine how we value ourselves based on the standards of others but how we feel about ourselves.