More Than Ok: Olivia Mainville’s journey from orchestra to the stage

Olivia Mainville was not brought up in a musical family, per se. Her parents love music and listen to it constantly — her father even collects instruments. But as far as playing any of those instruments goes, that’s another story entirely.

“My dad wanted to play music,” Mainville said. “He says he was in a bad garage cover band when he was younger and that they were terrible.”

Mainville took more of a hands-on approach from a very young age, joining orchestra in fifth grade. And while her passion for music itself was always there, she admits that mastering the craft of creating it was a little slower coming.

“I started off on the viola and I was terrible at it,” Mainville said. “I did it for two years, then I switched to upright bass, which is a very big difference. I was OK at it — not very good, but OK.”

But you wouldn’t know that now, as Mainville and her Aquatic Troupe have been electrifying audiences not only here in West Michigan, but wherever they go. Fusing elements of multiple genres, the group boasts an impactful sound that can be at equal times folk, gypsy and rock, delivered with a modern feel and a vintage vibe.

The band’s debut album, Maybe the Saddest Thing, won the 2016 WYCE Jammies Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album, ensuring the troupe’s place as a respected group in the local music scene. And on that very record, Mainville recruited a surprising special guest, thanks in part to her parents’ love for music.

“My dad brought me to a Suzanne Vegas concert a while back and Gerry Leonard was playing (because) he was on tour with them,” Mainville said. “I saw Gerry Leonard and I said, ‘I like your pants.’ He had these purple skinny jeans on. He was really nice, so I emailed him when I finally started working on my album and I asked him to record a song.”

Now, Olivia & The Aquatic Troupe is poised to take another major step in recording its new album. In May, the band announced it would be traveling to Los Angeles to record at EastWest Studios, where many famous musicians have laid down tracks over the years.

“(It’s) where The Beach Boys did Pet Sounds,” Mainville said. “We’ll be in that particular room. It’s where The Mamas & the Papas recorded, Nancy Sinatra, Frank Sinatra … all of the big guys from the ’60s.”


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