My story starts with my Mexican parents. They eloped from Mexico City then had me in Los Angeles. Their early gift to me was a stand-up piano for kids. According to my mom, I spent most of my time on it, writing songs and playing them over and over. When I was a teenager, I was the frontwoman in a punk/indie cover band, then played in a few post-rock bands. I became obsessed with the label Thrill Jockey, and moved to Chicago because they were based there. My sister was my biggest champion—she accompanied me on the long drive. Even though she slept most of the time in the passenger seat, her love and support meant the world to me.
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While in Chicago, I self-released an EP titled “A Hot Hooray” on CD, a Casio-inspired solo project under my name, Oly. I was lucky enough to open for some of my favorite acts, like DAT Politics and M83. Chicago was great to me, but the winters were not. I moved to Paris, where I hustled a weekly DJ gig at an America-themed bar in Bastille, playing Miami booty bass. While in France, I got the news that my dad was dying from cancer. I moved back to the United States, settling in Miami. Songwriting took a long pause, even though music never left my life.
Fifteen years after “A Hot Hooray,” I released “Shy Passion” in 2020, on a label I started called Public Works. The songs on “Shy Passion,” produced by Rick Moon and Corey Perez, are vulnerable, bedroom-pop ballads that explore family struggles and the process of surviving toxic men—but also the joys of life. I directed the video for the single “Waiting Around,” inspired by the rituals of teenage girls during sleepovers. The tracks are a mix of nostalgic organ sounds and electronic indiepop, inspired partly by 1960s-era Burt Bacharach.
In 2021, my sister passed away. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with. She was always helping me in any way she could—buying my records and tapes even though I would’ve given them to her, dragging the family to my shows, making her kids work the merch table. Since her death, I’ve been getting back to music slowly. I wrote a song about her, a collaboration with John Herndon from Tortoise, and I’m hoping to release it this year. Through my music, I want to remind everyone to appreciate those in our lives who are sisterly, those who ride with us through the night.