Ever visited a restaurant in Singapore and got blown away by the music selection? There’s a possibility that it was curated by Olivia Coléon, the music and culture specialist behind The Vibe Project, and now, Musiio, a music tech company that uses AI for music discovery and curation. As it turns out, she’s quite the looker too. We guess music has that kind of effect on people, huh?
Having worked at brands like Boiler Room TV and Momentum Worldwide and travelled to over 50 countries worldwide, Olivia is a natural connector and cultural innovator who thrives on emerging lifestyle trends. Here’s what the eye candy has to say.
Hi Olivia! How’d you describe your personal style?
Style comes first from being comfortable, and whatever we have in our lives – whether it’s clothes, music, people, jobs – needs to make us feel totally ourselves. So I let that lead the way for me and wear what feels good in the moment. Some days I love bright prints and colours; others I’m happy in jeans and a white t-shirt. As long as I’m feeling comfortable and free to express myself, I’m in my vibe.
They say listening to music improves your appearance.What do you think?
I’ll always remember walking down the street in New York and having a fabulous man dancing towards me singing to Beyonce at the top of his lungs. Music gave him that confidence and he obviously felt like Superman (or Wonder Woman). So in that sense, if music makes you feel awesome and confident, you glow up.
What are the other benefits of music?
There are endless benefits to music. From uplifting moods, helping memory, encouraging relaxation (mentally and physically), and enhancing creativity, music can be used as a tool to power nearly anything and everything in your life. And for businesses, music can help you achieve unprecedented results when it comes to encouraging behaviour from your customers or impacting brand awareness and identity. The question’s more like: what aren’t the benefits of music?
Do you have some kind of mantra that you recite daily?
I do have a regular meditation practice where I set an intention for the day and a daily reminder that goes off at 4pm that says, “Take a deep breath.” We live our lives from one moment to the next, and I try to stay present, balanced and aware as much as I can.
What made you want to start The Vibe Project?
I truly believe that music helps everyone to feel their best. It’s not news that music releases dopamine (the feel-good neurochemical in our brain), which makes it an unbelievably powerful tool for nearly everyone, regardless of culture, religion, race or class.
My mission is to create environments where everyone can feel awesome, and I do this by integrating curated music into social spaces and environments. The reason curated music is essential is because it hones in on the people in the space and guides their experience. We’ve all been to a restaurant or party where the music was totally off and jarring. It kills the mood. I make sure this never happens!
What does ‘vibe’ mean, really?
A vibe is the energy around someone, something, or some place. It’s the aura and how it makes you feel. When a space, like a hotel, has a vibe, it means that everything is aligned and on point – the people, the environment, the decor, the smells and sounds. All of your senses are satisfied. But what is often overlooked is the authenticity of it all. A vibe is all about the realness; how the soul of something comes across. It can’t be manufactured or engineered, copy and pasted. That’s why I love this word – a vibe will always tell it how it is!
What’s your work process like when curating music for clients? Surely every project is different.
The most important part of any project, whether in music or not, is empathising with your clients and understanding the core of what they are trying to convey. When I start a project, I always ask, “What do you want your guests to feel after they’ve spent time in your space, or with your brand?”
Creating mood boards is a great way to put these feelings into a visual representation because music is so subjective and feelings-based. So putting together a brand’s key words, understanding their audience, the environment in which the music will be played, plus the mood board – it all helps to put yourself there. Sometimes you have to close your eyes and put yourself right in that environment, that moment. What music is playing? How does it make you feel? And I go from there.
Now as Head of Music at Musiio, this is more important than ever. My team has to actively disconnect from any biases while still leveraging on all the music knowledge we have. This comes into play when curating music for a client with a database of music in a different language or a music culture that is different from ours.
You probably go through hundreds or even thousands of tracks in a week. Does it get exhausting?
It can totally get exhausting! Sometimes my ears need a break so I learned that it’s important to mix up your day with different activities or tasks. But the great thing about it is the constant exploration of new music, new artists, and new tracks. There’s so much music coming out today and it’s impossible to listen to everything, but it also means that there will always be more music out there to discover and love.
What about ‘Olivia’s Playlist’? What are the top three songs we’ll see in there?
Some of my favorite tracks are “Who Knows” by Protoje and Chronixx, “Energy (Stay Far Away)” by Skepta and WizKid, and “Soweto” by Michael Brun.
What’s new in the global music scene that’s awesome and interesting?
The emergence of afrobeats and a new wave of reggae is taking on the world right now. We first heard it come to a commercial level on Drake’s “One Dance” three years ago, then Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You”, and it’s been growing ever since. There’s something in these rhythms that feels like home to all of us, regardless of where we come from. It’s down to the vibe – African and Jamaican cultures have music at their cores and you can feel that when you listen to the music.
When it comes to Singapore, I always love seeing DJ Justo, Masia One, and FUNK BSTRD. They bring the heat and some variety to the scene here.
All photos by Suki Zoe unless otherwise stated.