Skip to content

Olivia Van Goor: When The Shadows Fall – Episode 62

About Olivia Van Goor

Jazz vocalist Olivia Van Goor says one of the best pieces of advice she’s ever received is, “In the beginning, no one will be asking you to do things, so you just have to do them yourself.” Previously, she was under the impression that she needed to be asked to do things like record, or maybe she would just get a lucky break. This piece of advice gave Olivia the motivation to save up money for studio time, form her own jazz group, experiment with arrangements, line up a recording engineer and a mixing and mastering engineer — and this was just the start. Working as an independent artist isn’t easy, but Olivia knows she’s earned every ounce of praise the album has received.

You hear Olivia’s original imprint most on her arrangement of “Hershey Bar.” She was inspired by Anita O’Day’s recording on the album Cool Heat — and her own sweet tooth. Musicians have a rap for vices like drugs and alcohol. But the only substance Olivia can’t get enough of is chocolate. She says the obsession has toned down a bit over the years, but she still carries some with her at all times. It’s become a running joke at jam sessions. Someone will ask, “Hey, you got some chocolate?” and she immediately starts passing it around. Olivia is the first musician to put lyrics to the tune of “Hershey Bar,” and she says they came pretty easily. The lyrics compare the sweetness of chocolate to the sweetness of love.

Another standout tune on the album is Oliva’s recording of “Lilac Wine.” The song is originally from a failed Broadway musical, but a recorded version by Nina Simone captured Olivia’s attention. While the Broadway interpretation was a quite literal translation of the lyrics, Nina’s version hinted at a deeper, darker meaning. A few weeks before the recording date, Olivia realized that she needed to find her own deeper meaning to the song. She practiced an exercise from Jazzmeia Horn’s book Strive From Within: The Jazzmeia Horn Approach. She read the lyrics like a monologue, recording herself until the meaning of the song seeped into the words and she uncovered her own personal story hidden in the lyrics. Olivia says she can hear herself getting emotional when she listens back to that recording. She carries that story into the music whenever she performs.

Listen to the full interview with Olivia Van Goor to learn more about her music! We dig into the inspiration behind each song on her EP When the Shadows Fall, her amazing band, and how to support female jazz artists. Plus, we talk about the incredible Detroit music scene where she’s based.


Learn more about Olivia Van Goor on her website. You can find When the Shadows Fall anywhere you stream music. It’s also available for purchase from Amazon Music or Bandcamp. You can stay up to date with Olivia’s musical journey by following her on social media!

You can stay up to date with Bite-Size Jazz by subscribing on your favorite podcast platform or following us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter

Leave a Reply