LIVVIA balances being Berkeley student, rising stardom

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Olivia Christensen is just your average UC Berkeley senior. She loves Harry Potter, suffers through economics midterms and listens to Coldplay casually. LIVVIA, however, attended the iHeartRadio Music Awards, collaborated with Quavo on a song that made it to Spotify’s Viral 50 and recently released a thrilling music video. One sounds like a normal girl, and the other sounds like a pop star on the rise — but they’re one and the same.

LIVVIA’s Viral 50-making song “Catch a Body” is just as upbeat as her personality. The singer grew up in Marin County, where she fell in love with playing piano. She would often teach herself to play popular songs from the radio, which she’d listen to obsessively. But she soon tried her hand at original compositions.  

“I always have been writing my own songs,” Christensen said in an interview with The Daily Californian. “When I was 13, I started traveling to LA … and working with co-writers and touring. I actually toured with artists like Jonas Brothers back when they were together.”

Back then, Christensen toured as Olivia Somerlyn. Now under the counsel of the Rock Mafia production team, LIVVIA has a new name and a new sound — she’s ready to take her career to the next level.

With more than one million listens on Spotify and more than 900,000 views on her hit music video, it’s no surprise that LIVVIA’s platform continues to grow. But the singer doesn’t just want to become famous and pursue her passion. What made Christensen want to revamp her music career was the industry’s ever-growing global presence.

“What made me want to take (my music career) professional was that ability to reach people and to actually get a message,” Christensen said.

Her new electronic pop sound revises the old, more traditional pop that Olivia Somerlyn was known for, but her passion for creating exceptional music hasn’t stopped.

This enveloped passion is displayed prominently in her music video for “Catch a Body,” where she portrays a crime-fighting spy on a mission to kill and acquire a target. She somersaults through glass, takes on three men at a time in an epic battle and ultimately catches the foe when they face off, gun-to-gun. The video stands for more than just a means to release her new content — for Christensen, it’s a strong stance on feminism and girl power.

“I always love action movies, especially when it’s a female character, and I think the song as a whole has a lot of lyrics that tell a story,” she said. In “Catch a Body,” she does more than just kick and hit the bad guys — she tries to show how women can be action heroes, rather than mere love interests.

Through a professional music video with a powerful message, coupled with the fact that Christensen performs her own stunts, the artist packs a punch when it comes to making her way through the tumultuous music industry. With all the physical and mental fighting she’s had to do, it’s no surprise that the artist came back to Berkeley with some battle wounds.

“I got so bruised — oh, my gosh. I actually had a midterm two days after I filmed,” Christensen said. “I was in the Harry Potter DeCal at the time as well, and it was the Yule Ball that night, so we had to dress up, and I had to wear a dress to my midterm, and I had all the bruises on my legs, and everyone was like, ‘What happened to you?’ ”

What really happened was that she was launching her music career while also striving for a bachelor’s degree in economics. But to Christensen, this isn’t any different than balancing any other passion. Her alternating careers — as a performer in Los Angeles and a student at UC Berkeley — are just another part of who she is. She’s just like all other students at UC Berkeley who pursue their passions and work hard, as she claims.

This passion and hard work do not go unnoticed. Whether she’s receiving the position of Gryffindor head girl in the Harry Potter DeCal or being lauded by famous musicians such as Quavo, LIVVIA is slowly receiving her due recognition. She sees the value in education and the power of building a music platform, and she strives for both simultaneously. She’s a modern-day Hannah Montana — a student and a rising starlet at the same time. With her humble attitude and unrelenting enthusiasm, this nonstop work ethic won’t stop any time soon.

While Christensen’s time in Berkeley will soon come to an end, her career is just beginning. She hopes to use her degree in economics to further cultivate her career, whether through negotiating contracts or other marketing deals. She’s also considering getting a master’s degree.

Although an impending graduation and ever-growing fame may seem like a lot to handle, it’s clear that Christensen can catch the eyes of fans and her fellow students — and she’ll “let the bullets fly.”

Contact Samantha Banchik at [email protected].