Born in a leap year near Cologne with a Polish surname to a Swedish air hostess mother from Västmanland and a German scientist father from “Kraftwerk” city Düsseldorf (who is currently designing bricks for a future moon station), Olivia started playing the violin when she was nine years old and joined an orchestra at eleven. Playing concerts in Sweden, Russia, Lithuania, Spain and Germany, she became leader of the orchestra at 18. During her Uni years she focused on busking, jam sessions and Jazz violin.
Who are your favourite violinists?
“I absolutely adore Rusanda Panfili (for her passion), the invisible Johan Veron (for his tone and intonation), Jean-Luc Ponty (for his inimitability) – also the only guy who can make an electric violin sound good, Hilary Hahn (for her unbelievable right hand), Itzhak Perlman (for his authenticity) and last but not least Patricia Kopatchinskaja (for her spirit and sensuality).”
Tell me about your violins.
“My main instrument is an enigmatic unusually skinny violin. The label inside mentions Guido Marchi, Firenze, 1849. But – you can’t always trust the labels. It’s obviously an old instrument with a unique and very warm sound, yet its past is a mystery. A Swedish luthier in Bonn suggested that the tag might refer to a repair and that the instrument is actually of English origin (ca. 1760). My violin teacher’s Kyrgyz luthier husband assumes it’s a German violin. I need to investigate…”
“I fitted another violin with D’Addario Helicore Octave Strings and it magically transformed into an instrument I’ve come to call ‘cellolin’. Tuned down an entire octave it shares three open strings (G2, D3, A3) with a cello.
The strings require a slightly different approach to playing as they’re thicker with medium tension. I recommend using a viola bow. Other adjustments I’ve made include adding synthetic Coruss® bow hair and exchanging the tailpiece in order for the G string to ring out longer. I got this one from Kolkata, check out the shape. I might also be adjusting the bridge in the future and get started on using Coruss® rosin. On the lower strings Coruss cuts out unwanted overtones. You can hear the cellolin on the title track of Noctorum’s THE AFTERLIFE.”
How did you and Marty meet?
“I compére Europe’s largest Progressive Rock festival, the “Night Of The Prog” at Loreley, Germany. Fantastic things happen at the site every year. I’ve hung out with Steven Wilson in his dressing room and discussed electric violins with King Crimson legend David Cross over lunch and eventually on Skype. Van der Graaf Generator’s David Jackson shared interesting album title stories (Pawn Hearts = Horn Parts), Andy Latimer came into the production office for a little chat and I received compliments on my long blonde dreadlocks from Steve Hackett and the nicest person with a kilt, Nick Beggs. I had the honour of accompanying Casey McPherson of Flying Colors/Alpha Rev, but non of these things even came close to the fact that I was falling deeply and unconditionally in love with a caring, loving, creative and passionate Liverpudlian guitarist in Anekdoten when they were invited to play the festival in 2016. I love the fact that I generally have the opportunity to speak some Swedish at the festival every year since there’s usually at least one Swedish band in the line-up, so when Anekdoten arrived, the first person I approached was Marty, the first words we ever exchanged were Swedish.”
Music you keep coming back to?
“Vincent by Don McLean, the studio version, I Started A Joke by The Bee Gees, Bright Eyes by Art Garfunkel, Fauré – Pavane, just to name a few. Crooners, 60s pop and singer-songwriters, protest singers, Folk, early Prog and loads and loads of Baroque, Classical and Romantic music.”