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Olivia Rudeen first picked up a guitar as a child and has never put it down. Not even old enough to drink, twenty year old Rudeen has already been playing in bars for a couple of years, and has an outlook well beyond her years. A student in UCD’s Music Business Program, Rudeen recently decided it was time to jump in to songwriting with both feet and took a plunge that immediately paid off.
Listen Up Denver! got to catch up with Rudeen while she was in Nashville, a place she is visiting more and more of late. “I am in Nashville to work with other writers because this is truly where the best songwriters are. I am also meeting with publishers and producers. I am just getting a feel for the town,” she said.
Well, she may only be getting a “feel” for the town, but the town is sure feeling her. After a few short trips and as many meetings as she could schedule, Rudeen has already seen the fruits of her labor. “Jeff Zacharski and I, a writer in Los Angeles who used to live in Denver, wrote and recorded a song on our own recently, and it got placed on a TV show. This was the first time I had that happen, so it’s pretty cool,” she admitted. “Jeff and I have been working together for a little less than a year, and we have been performing together and writing together in as many genres as we can, just trying to be as versatile as possible.”
Rudeen and Zacharski met at the Durango Songwriters Expo, and the conference opened doors for them both, and started pointing Rudeen in another direction. “I never saw myself on this side of the industry,” she said. “I used to think I would never sell one of my songs and have someone else sing it because they are so personal. I learned that there is a distinction between songs I write for myself and songs I write for somebody else, but all my songs do have to come from a personal place, otherwise they are never going to connect with anybody else.”
Although she has not released a ton of material yet, Rudeen already has a lot of experience under her belt. Now that more people are hearing her music, recording opportunities are also coming her way. “I released a five song EP in 2010, and haven’t released anything since then. I have been working on another EP, and Jimmy Stofer is producing it. Jimmy has worked or played with bands like The Fray, Bop Skizzum and Rose Hill Drive and we have been working on the EP since January and really fine tuning it,” she revealed. “I’ve been asked to work on a full length album, but I think with the way people consume music now, it makes more sense to release music more frequently in smaller doses. When you limit the amount of songs you are putting out there at one time, it forces you to make tough decisions, and only put your best work out there.”
Things have started happening for Rudeen because of many factors, and aggressively pursuing her dream since the moment she realized it is probably the most obvious one. “I started playing guitar when I was nine. I remember because it was the same year that I got braces; so that year was both traumatic and awesome. My mom had a guitar lying around the house, and I started playing around with it. I wanted to take lessons, and learn the right way from the beginning,” Rudeen said. “I remember looking in the Park Hill community newspaper for a guitar teacher, and there were only two ads. One said, ‘I will teach you Blink 182 songs,’ and at the time, that’s what I wanted. The other said, ‘I will come to your house,’ and that’s what my mom wanted. Mom had the final say. We lucked out having Paul Murin be the guy that came to our house, and I worked with him for seven or eight years. We have even performed together a few times recently.”
Three years after first picking up a guitar, Rudeen was ready to get on a stage. “I formed a band with some friends when I was 12. We played Bar Mitzvah parties and random events. Through that band I learned a lot about the music business by making mistakes,” she admitted. “By the time I was ready to play as a solo act, at 17 or 18, I was already pretty comfortable on stage, and had made a lot of connections.”
Well, Rudeen is obviously good at making connections, and the right ones at that. This summer will find her spending more time in both LA and Nashville, but don’t worry, she will be playing in Denver plenty as well! If you want to catch this young lady before she moves on to bigger stages, you might want to do it soon. Rudeen’s next performance will be at Summit Music Hall this Wednesday June 20th, and it is her first time opening for a nationally touring act.