Oliviero is a namesake project of Mike Oliviero – a Maine-born songwriter, producer, singer and multi-instrumentalist whose idiosyncratic brand of experimental indie-rock is an exploration of sound and emotion. An eclectic mix of indie-rock, experimental folk, post-rock, minimalism, ambient and post-classical music, Oliviero’s music draws sonic inspiration from a diversity of sources such as Steve Reich, La Monte Young, North Indian classical music, Neil Young, Rufus Wainwright, Yann Tiersen, Sigur Ros, and the music of the 50’s and 60’s. The artist's lyrical themes are introspective in nature and build upon themes and archetypes from the work of Carl Jung, astro-physics and psychology.
The music of Oliviero is a study in contrasts and has a visceral and physical dimension making it as much an aural and emotional experience as it is a tangible physical one. In one song, the bright pluck of a banjo might sit next to the grungy moodiness of a distorted guitar. In another, the heavy bass and textures of dark minor chords underscore lyrics of hope and weightlessness. And still in another, reverb-laden drums recorded in distant tunnels propel vocals whispered into the ear.
Oliviero’s live set is as versatile as its songs and sounds and is equally at home in the loud cacophony of indie-rock venues as it is in the intimate rooms of house concerts and singer/songwriter venues. Built upon a foundation of strong songwriting, Oliviero has multiple arrangements of all of its songs that span from the vulnerabilities of quiet acoustic ballads to the epic soundscapes of cinematic and bombastic indie-rock. Oliviero tailors its music specifically to whatever venue he and the band play.
Oliviero exists as both the solo project of its founder and a full band project with 3 other multi-instrumentalist members, Donovan Bullen, Cara Batema and Dave Widaman. Donovan Bullen is a singer, producer and multi-instrumentalist who is classically trained on Contrabass and who plays upright bass, electric bass and foot synthesizer bass (Moog Taurus III) and keys. Cara Batema is a singer, producer, composer, film-scorer and multi-instrumentalist who is trained in classical guitar and who plays electric guitars, keys, accordion and flute. Dave Widaman is a singer, producer and multi-instrumentalist who trained in percussion and drums at Berklee School of Music and who plays drums, percussion, keys and glockenspiel.
Mike began playing percussion and drums at the age of 11 and played in orchestra, rock bands and jazz bands for the next 7 years. A budding passion for songwriting and singing caused him to begin teaching himself guitar and piano while in undergraduate. He was also active in the a capella community honing his love for harmonies of all kinds, both vocal and instrumental. Inspired by a huge range of musical obsessions ranging from Neil Young to Patty Griffin to Steve Reich, Mike spent his early years honing his songwriting craft and writing what Fred Rogers said a songwriter had to be able to write - a "barrelful" of songs.
In 2010, Mike came out to Los Angeles to further develop his songwriting and musicianship. Upon arrival, Mike was fortunate enough to be taken under the songwriting wing and mentorship of acclaimed lyricist and jazz musician Mark Winkler. In 2011, Mike was accorded the honor of being selected to be a Fellow of the David Wilcox Fellowship Program in which he worked closely with the acclaimed songwriter and musician to further his craft of songwriting. Mike has also studied with Rob Seals and other phenomenal songwriting teachers at The Songwriting School of Los Angeles. He also spent much of this time honing his production and recording skills through countless soundscapes and demos, many of which have been brought to life by an ever-growing armada of vintage instruments including a 1940's pump organ, the Korg MS20, the Moog Taurus III, the Prophet 5, and his grandfather's 1940's era Gibson archtop.
Oliviero began as a solo project that culminated in the creation of The Weightless EP (2013). Mike executive produced and co-produced The Weightless EP with co-producer and Latin-Grammy Nominee James Patrick Kelly. The EP was mixed by Paul Klimson, an engineer/producer and founder of Theory One Productions who has worked with Justin Timberlake, The Roots, Jimmy Fallon, John Legend and Erykah Badu. The Weightless EP was mastered by Pete Lyman of Infrasonic Mastering. The artwork and logos of Oliviero were created by the inspired mind of Brian Campbell.
After completion of The Weightless EP, Mike assembled a 3-piece version of the band with Donovan Bullen and Dave Widaman. The trio began performing in and around Los Angeles and San Francisco. In 2014, Cara Batema joined the group. The 4-piece band plays in and around Los Angeles. Notably, the group hosts a bi-monthly music and art show at its warehouse space in Historic Filipino Town in which cutting edge visual artists, video artists, photographers, and bands assemble to share their craft.
In the fall of 2015, the band set to work self-recording an EP in which all members collaborated to create the broad range of sounds that comprise Oliviero’s complex vision. The band recorded, combined and culled out hours and layers of sounds to create a deeply textured and idiosyncratic EP called “If You’re Going to Be a Bear”, released in January 2016. The EP was mixed by acclaimed Lynne Earls of Earls Music Productions who has worked with KD Lang and Bobby Bazini. The EP was so named as part of a joke begun by the mixer Lynne Earls that “If you’re going to be a bear," when deciding how much of an instrument or an effect to add in to the mix, "be a Grizzly Bear.” This collaborative and layered approach of music production led to the complex and ferocious musical animal that is "If You're Going to Be a Bear". The EP was mastered by Dave Locke of JP Masters Mastering. The cover art was done by the profoundly creative and prolific Gianni Arone.