Olivia Holt has found her own voice on debut single 'Phoenix'

Olivia Holt Plays '90s Lyrics Trivia
Olivia Holt Plays '90s Lyrics Trivia

By: Gibson Johns

Olivia Holt is ready for the world to hear her own, true voice.

The 18-year-old, who's best known for her four-season stint at Kim on Disney XD's "Kickin' It," is set to release her debut single, "Phoenix" on Friday, May 13, and it's been a long time coming.

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Though she admits that the transition from Disney to more personal, adult material has been "challenging" at times, Holt also insists that it's been enjoyable. She's been gearing up for this moment for over a year and a half, eagerly searching for her signature sound and distinguishable voice.

Having previously released a handful of tracks on the "Girl vs. Monster" soundtrack, Holt is used to the recording process, but on her previous tracks she was singing as her character, Skylar Lewis, not as herself, Olivia Holt. Now that she has found that voice, though, she's sure that the world will enjoy it.

We chatted exclusively with Holt on the phone about her incredible debut single "Phoenix" and its uplifting message for her fans, recording those amazing YouTube covers and what her experience has been like post Disney Channel.

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Check out our full conversation with Olivia Holt below:

You're debut single, "Phoenix," comes out on Friday, May 13! What kind of sound can we expect from it?

It's a pop record. But at the same time, it's got this soulful and rhythmic feeling; it has a lot of different elements in it. I grew up in the South, so organic music is something I've always been drawn to. I'm talking about guitars and drums and things like that, which you'll hear a little bit in this first single, which I'm so stoked about! I'm just really happy with the direction the sound is going.

What about what we can expect to hear in a lyrical sense. Can you tell us what the song is about?

It's based on empowerment and finding the best version of yourself possible, being happy, stepping out of the shadows and showing off this boost of confidence you've found -- pulling out your inner "phoenix." It's so important to me, because it's a message that I really want people to understand and embrace. I wanted to get that across, so hopefully everyone will take that and run with it.

That seems like a message that's especially important for your young fans to hear from you, as well.

1000%! For this generation, it'll be one of those songs that you can listen to whether you're in a good mood or you're in a bad mood. It's a very uplifting song.

Is there a music video on its way for "Phoenix"?

Yeah, we actually just recently shot the video for "Phoenix," and I am so incredibly happy with it. We really captured a lot of great, candid moments for it, and I'm really excited for everyone to see it.

How much recording did you have to do before you found "The One"? Did you go through a bunch of different songs and sounds before you settled on this one?

It's been a long time coming. I've been recording and writing for the past year and a half so I could really understand the whole process of it all. Music was originally what I wanted to do. I grew up around music: My dad was in a hair band in the '80s, my mom was crazy into all of that, too, my sister was a musical theater geek and my brother is the oldest soul you'll ever meet, like all into vinyl and records. It's incredible, my entire family is just really into music, whether they sing or play an instrument or not.

Music is what I've been wanting to do for a while now, even though acting kind of took over for a while, but now I'm back into music and I'm loving it. Finding my own taste and my own material that I really enjoy doing is a little surreal.

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Who are some of your musical idols or inspirations?

There's a couple of people that have influenced the direction of my music. I definitely have a little bit of Ellie Goulding, the soulfulness of Adele. There's also this UK artist I love named Jess Glynne who's got this rad voice, but the sound of her music is just ... I don't even know! [Laughs] There's just something about it that makes your heart feel good.

Talk to me a little bit about the difference between the previous tracks you've done -- a handful for the "Girl vs. Monster" soundtrack -- and how they differ from the music you're making now.

It's a very different process. For the "Girl vs. Monster" soundtrack, I was playing a role; I was a character singing a song. It wasn't Olivia singing the song and telling her stories and singing her own music. Everything that I've been through and experienced -- or everything I want to experience and feel -- is all in the music that I'm putting out now. It's definitely a different process, but it's way exciting to share this with people and have them see me in a different light.

You've done a couple of amazing YouTube covers, of "Hide Away" and "Hands To Myself." How do you decide which songs to cover?

For me, if I hear a song that I just really dig and want to put my own twist on, then I'll try to make it happen. With the past two covers I've done, I just wanted people to know that I was putting out new music. I wanted to say, you know, "Here's this voice and the way that I want to interpret songs." That was really important to me, so I tried to make that happen as quickly as possible.

Finding a cover is just really, for me, about finding something I really dig and want to put my own twist on, which is fun to do and collaborate with people on. It's really rad.

You also have two movies coming out, "Same Kind of Different As Me" and "Class Rank," the former also featuring Renée Zellweger and Greg Kinnear. What was it like filming with them?

Unreal! I mean, they are incredibly seasoned actors with the ability to make people cry and laugh and feel something all in the same moment, but they're even better human beings. Renée was the most down to earth person I've ever worked with. Greg was also so awesome and such a genuine person. To work with them was really special, and I don't think I'll ever forget it.

Did they give you any advice on set that stuck with you?

You know, I think it was more about spending time with them. They didn't have to give me any advice, it was more about me watching them and soaking up enough knowledge as I possibly could. Just watching them interact with other people, too, was really interesting. You look up to certain people, but then when you meet them in person you see a whole different side to them: They're just really good people who want to create something great.

The main thing I took from working with them was really just treating people with respect and taking this professional career and making it into something fun and not looking at it as just a job, but also as something you truly enjoy.

Lastly, what's it been like transitioning into more adult, personal material? You're done with your Disney shows, you're recording your own music and starring in more grown-up films. Has it been difficult?

It can definitely be challenging at times, but you can say that about anything. Challenging things come and go, but for me I just have to keep a positive attitude. That's what gets me through, but I also try to surround myself with good people who make me laugh and smile and build me up and support me. It's been a fun transition, though, for me. I've been finding myself in really different lights and enjoying myself with different people. I've just been enjoying it day by day. Whatever happens, happens, and I just have to kind of take it and embrace it.

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