Robyn Ottolini has always been brutally honest, with herself more than anyone. ‘Sick Of Sex’ is the next taste of her forthcoming Growing Up To Do EP, and it’s without a doubt her most candid yet.
“This is a song that, for me, is really hard to talk about,” Robyn Ottolini says. “I mean, who wants to talk publicly about their sex life, especially when you’re in such a shitty place with it? But for me, I have an easier time working through these thoughts and feelings if there’s a melody behind them because it draws the feelings out of me so naturally and safely.”
Playfully working through her thoughts and feelings in her songs has always been Ottolini’s unique selling point. That’s where she’s always been able to be her most authentic self, revealing the sometimes heartbreaking and often hilarious inner workings of one of country music’s most brilliant minds in songs like ‘Tell You Everything,' ‘Say It,' and 'Match For My Memory.'
“I don’t need another heartbreak in the making,” she sang in ‘Trust Issues’. “I don’t need another boy who’s seeing me naked.”
She’s a warts-and-all diarist whose perfectly observed mini-narratives about modern life, insecurities, sexual politics and relationships set her far apart from the rest of the pop country crowd.
With ‘Sick Of Sex’ she’s opened her diary at an eye-poppingly juicy page. There’s no shortage of talk about S-E-X in contemporary pop music but as always Robyn Ottolini frames it through her own unique lens.
‘Sick Of Sex’ is premiering exclusively on Holler below.
In recent years, songs like ‘WAP’ and ‘Body’ might have reframed female sexual empowerment, but it’s still always centred around pleasure. What makes Robyn Ottolini’s new single so vital is that it’s more interested in unpacking the opposite - sexual displeasure - and what it feels like, in a world where sex is shorthand for empowerment, for a woman who isn’t interested in getting hers.
The way she’s able to articulate her anxieties about something so personal and intimate in such a plainspoken way feels like a really fucking punk move.
“This song was important for me to write so that I could fully process my emotions instead of letting them fester in my mind and body,” she told us. “Sex isn’t supposed to feel this way but to me, it did and it does. I guess it’s one of those songs that I sort of hope no one listens to because it’s truly the most vulnerable song I’ve ever written and needed to write but at the same time, I know I’m not the only one who has gone through this, who is going through this, or who has felt this way”.
“I feel like, at this moment and when I was writing this song, I put a lot of pressure on myself when it came to sex,” Ottolini continues. “If I don’t do it enough, I’m not making someone else happy but if I’m not listening to my body, I’ll make me unhappy. Will this person like me still if I wait? Will they like me less if I don’t? WHAT DO I WANT? Anyway, there’s such a weird ‘hush hush’ mentality when it comes to speaking on this subject and the fact that I’m doing it publicly makes me squirm even more but at the end of the day, it’s something tons of people will experience or have experienced and it should be discussed in all capacities and that’s why I’m trying my hardest not to shy away from the opportunity this song presents”.
“My body is craving aloneness and I’m trying to love it so," she sings halfway through the song, tying up her own feelings towards sex with larger issues of body autonomy. When a male dominated culture pushes female empowerment it always seems to be through sexual liberation, but sex-positive feminism should mean accepting the complete range of women's sex choices, including the decision not to have it at all.
“This song came together really quickly in the writing room with Emily Reid”, Robyn told us about how ‘Sick of Sex’ came about. “I was writing at her place in LA for the weekend. I felt really heavy, crushed, and honestly pretty depressed from what I was going through at the time. But Emily has a way of helping me get those feelings out of my head and into a melody.”
“I was planning on watching Netflix until my flight back home that night and Emily came down the stairs and said, ‘We can write one more song and we’re going to do it.’ We talked about the idea from a few days earlier of being sick of sex and I said, ‘give me some sad piano’ and she said, ‘Ok, I’ll lay some down, go get yourself a vodka soda.’ As I was in the kitchen the lyrics just started pouring out of me and I ran back up with a lot of the chorus and we ran with it pretty quickly".
The latest in a long string of perfectly crafted pop vignettes that runs from her Classic EP back in 2019 through to recent singles like ‘All My Friends Are Hot’ and ‘Sad To Work’, ‘Sick Of Sex’ is not surprisingly brilliant. With her playful mix of country, alt-pop and unflinchingly honest lyrics she's like the Kate Nash of country music.
“Right away I knew we had a song that meant a lot to me. I love how this song came together in the studio; it had a sad innocence to it," she told us. "I feel like it’s such a smooth melody, supported by a haunting piano and light, magical sounding guitars, that just floats over my ears but at the same time makes me want cry alone in my bed at 2am saying, ‘Why would you ever put this out in the world, this is too much’. That contrast between something so pretty and something so painful is so cool to me, I feel like my producer. Cameron Jaymes, just nailed the sound that I was going for with this song.”
Following her support spot on Shania Twain’s Queen Of Me tour, Robyn Ottolini is heading out on her first headline tour this fall. The All My Friends Are Hot Tour will stop in 12 cities across the U.S. and Canada, starting on November 2nd in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
"My very first headlining tour and I couldn’t be more excited," Robyn shares. "My songs have always been really personal to me and my life, but seeing them connect with audiences everywhere is like a deeper connection yet. I can’t wait to play these rooms and get to meet each and every one of the fans that come out."
The six-track Growing Up To Do EP is set for release next year via Empire. Presave it here. 'Sick Of Sex' is available everywhere on October 6th.