Success has been the best revenge for Robyn Ottolini.
She wrote her single, 'F-150' after a breakup that left her with a bit of heartache. It turns out, using music as a diary allowed her the chance to turn a somber situation into something life-changing. Although the song may seem to be just about a truck, seeing a Ford F-150 around her small town can bring up some heavy emotions and memories. Nevertheless, the single possesses a feeling of empowerment, as Robyn moves on from the relationship and becomes a better version of herself.
The 25-year-old is a relatively new phenomenon to the country music industry, but she has already had an extraordinary start to her career. While the single has been out for over a year, it only recently blew up on Tik Tok. Without even being in music city, she has made an impact on the industry - Warner Music Nashville couldn’t resist the opportunity to sign her. Now, because of her strong, talented voice and stunning personality, her fanbase is growing every day. Sitting down with Holler, Ottolini shares that great enthusiasm for what her future holds.
How long have you known you wanted to be a musician?
I’ve always loved music; I’ve been writing since I was 13. I never really knew that you could have a real career out of it though. I thought you had to start really young if you ever wanted to be anybody, so I was always going to stick to math and science and be a scientist. But then one thing led to another, I turned 20 years old and said I’m just going to do music. I try really hard and it makes me really happy, so why not.
How has it felt to appear on the Canadian Country Billboard charts for the first time and being named 2021 Artist to Watch by Amazon Music, this early in your career?
It’s crazy, it’s all a whirlwind. I have no idea how I got here, but I’m really thankful. Up in Canada, I’m on the top 30 now and it’s just climbing really fast, so I’m like, ‘what is my life?’ My parents are really happy; my dad has wanted me to be on the radio since I was a kid. It’s all happening very fast, I’m trying to process my emotions, I’m really happy inside though. My hometown is very supportive, so whenever I released new music, people would buy it, would come to the shows, everything. I come from a very musical town and they’re so lovely. It’s crazy to think people outside of my town are listening now.
Since you haven’t been able to visit Nashville, how did you come to sign with Warner Music Nashville?
I met them end of September, signed in October and just kind of ran with things from there. They found me, which was very kind of them to come looking for a girl in Canada. They messaged me saying, ‘hi, let’s set up a meeting!’ We talked and they were just so lovely. They saw the brand, they saw the woman behind the brand, they were so ecstatic, and I am happy to have them.The whole signing was over zoom, it’s crazy.
‘F-150’ was released a little over a year ago now and recently it has really become something pretty big. What really gave it a running start in 2020?
I released two EPs - one of them had ‘F-150’ on it. With the quarantine, I thought, “there goes all my chances of promoting this EP”. Then I turned to social media and I did Tik Tok, which is where the trend hit - the snowball turned into an avalanche. Even before Tik Tok, ‘F-150’ was my most successful song ever, it did great and was added to a bunch of Spotify and Apple playlists. Sometimes you release music and people play it just because they know you, but I found that people played it because they actually really liked it. Then quarantine hit. I just kept posting on social media and I had no marketing budget, I was a barista and poor. I continued to tell the story, talk about why and how I wrote it and just keep giving people content. When Tik Tok came around, I started sharing my clips of my songs on there and it clicked with people. That’s when the streaming went through the roof, I’m still trying to process that. It finally got its wings and I’m really glad it did.
What was going on in your life when you wrote that song?
I got dumped in April and we live in a small town, so I was scared of seeing him driving in his F-150. I saw them everywhere, whether it was his or not. I pulled over on the side of the rode and said the words, “when I see an F-150”. I went home and wrote it.
One of the comments on your music video said it’s the saddest and happiest song. Why did you ultimately decide to make that change to the ending?
It was a super sad song. Cut to six months later, my producers said this is a sad song and you’re not a sad person. They said I should consider re-writing the last chorus with them, so we did. That’s where the song you see today came from, but I was really sad when I wrote it. I think it’s really important if you’re sad, to feel sad and to feel your emotions. For a long time, I used to put my emotions down - but I think it’s super important to be sad, so I wanted to keep that aspect. It’s also important to boss up and be like, “screw him, screw her”, just love yourself and get the confidence, pick yourself up. I like that the confidence is there, it’s very much me.
Have you gotten comments telling you that this song helped with getting over a breakup?
I get them all the time in DM’s or on Tik Tok. People say things like, “I haven’t been able to get over this guy, then I heard your song and how you got over it, so thank you so much.’ It’s great to help; I’m like, “yes, get over them, they’re not worth it!” I wrote that for me to get that thought out of my head, I never knew that it could relate to so many people. I guess everyone gets dumped and everyone sees a vehicle or something that reminds them of their ex. That’s the crazy part; I wrote it to heal me, and it’s healing other people.
Where is the first place you want to perform with a full audience when it is safe to do so?
I can say my dream venue would be the Budweiser stage in downtown Toronto, on the lake. When everything opens up, I can hopefully go on a tour and start meeting people. I have never been on a tour or played a show in the U.S., so I think that would be crazy.
What is something you are hoping to accomplish with your music and your career?
I really want to portray self-love and that it’s okay to make mistakes, as long as you grow from them. It’s okay to be imperfect and just love yourself. I always think of the analogy with an airplane and the masks that fall down. You have to help yourself before you can help someone else - you can save a lot of lives that way.
Robyn Ottolini's latest release, 'The I'm Not Always Hilarious EP' - featuring the smash-hit single 'F-150' - is out now via Warner Music Nashville. Watch the video for her acoustic rendition below.