“Sociopath”: Olivia O’Brien Goes Behind the Scenes of Her Thrilling New Song & Horror Film

Sociopath - Olivia O'Brien
Sociopath - Olivia O'Brien
There’s always been an edge to Olivia O’Brien’s music, but her cinematic, horror-inspired single “Sociopath” is definitely her most thrilling offering to date.
Stream: “Sociopath” – Olivia O’Brien




There’s always been an edge to Olivia O’Brien’s music, but “Sociopath” is definitely her most thrilling offering to date.

The pop singer/songwriter taps into the horror genre for her cinematic new single, charging into 2021 with an emboldened new sound, radiant confidence, and unapologetic attitude that is as refreshing as it is inspiring.

Sociopath - Olivia O'Brien
Sociopath – Olivia O’Brien
How do you feel nothing
When I feel it all?
I’m sick to my stomach
And you don’t even call me
Why don’t you feel guilty?
Your conscience should be filthy
Do you even miss me at all?
Hands on my neck, but you’ve got no regrets
For the marks that you left
Like your heart’s pumping ice through your chest
And I bet that you’ll do it again
‘Cause that’s what I get
For loving a sociopath-path-path-path-path
Maybe you’re wired like that, that, that, that, that
A cold-blooded sociopath

Released April 9, 2021 via Island Records, “Sociopath” arrives this spring as the first single off Olivia O’Brien’s forthcoming sophomore LP, Episodes (set to release in two parts over this spring and summer). The upcoming record follows a long string of accomplishments that began around 2015’s debut single “Complicated” and 2016’s global smash “i hate u, i love u” (recorded with gnash), an interpolation of O’Brien’s original composition “hate u love u.” 2019’s debut album Was It Even Real? offered an immersive and nuanced look at the budding artist, and her succeeding singles over the past two years – from the tongue-in-cheek revenge anthem “Josslyn” to the in-the-moment groove “NOW” – have continued to push the boundaries of what mainstream pop music can look, sound, and feel like.

Olivia O'Brien © 2021
Olivia O’Brien © 2021

In some ways, it all sets the stage for what O’Brien promises to be her most revealing set of songs yet.

“Most of the time, it feels like my life consists of sporadic, mis-matched episodes from various, unrelated TV shows,” she says. “Some days I’ll wake up in a lighthearted comedy move and fall asleep in a tear-jerking coming of age drama. While I usually enjoy these many episodes, the word “episodes” often brings something else to mind: periods of struggle with mental and emotional distress. I’ve been through many of those kinds of episodes but I try to find the positive in every situation and aspect of my life. My life is a messy, scattered genre-bending saga and so is my album. I’m inviting you into the episodes of my life with this new album. A world of comedy, reality, drama, horror, fantasy and love. I can’t wait for everyone to hear it.”

For O’Brien, Episodes shows the most sides of her art and artistry. “I wanted to show the good, the bad, the happy, the sad, the pretty, the ugly, and everything in between. I don’t like to stick to one thing and this album has allowed me to be more free than I’ve ever been while still sticking to a concept.”

With this in mind, “Sociopath” is certainly a striking, definitive start of a new era for her music.

Got an empty expression
With blood on your hands (Blood on your hands)
You should feel something
But maybe you can’t
Some kind of madness
Your empathy’s lacking
And I don’t know how the fuck this could’ve happened
Hands on my neck, but you’ve got no regrets
For the marks that you left
Like your heart’s pumping ice through your chest
And I bet that you’ll do it again
Guess that’s what I get
For loving a sociopath-path-path-path-path
Maybe you’re wired like that, that, that, that, that
A cold blooded sociopath
Olivia O'Brien © Carianne Older
Olivia O’Brien © Carianne Older

From the instantly-recognizable Psycho theme sample, to the beat’s cool, accentuated drums, and O’Brien’s own evocative, punctuated singing, “Sociopath” is a dramatic thrill.

“I wrote this song about the feeling of loving someone who you don’t believe is capable of feeling anything at all,” she explains. “It’s frustrating and horrifying to think that you may have given everything to someone who couldn’t possibly give that back to you if they tried. I was trying to justify a person’s cruel actions as I realized it may have been a simple lack of empathy.”

Directed by Amber Park and written by Park and Max Movish, the “Sociopath” music video is as big a production as the music – a truly filmic statement in its own right that harkens back to such cinematic music videos as “Thriller” and iconic cult classics like Scream, Scary Movie, Paranormal Activity.

“I wanted to create an actual horror movie,” O’Brien states, “…without it getting TOO dark.” Starring O’Brien alongside personal (and noteworthy) friends Anastasia Karanikolaou (aka @StassiBaby), Euphoria’s Zak Steiner, Quenlin Blackwell, and many more, the “Sociopath” music video plays like one might expect it to: A friends night gets ambushed by a psycho killer, who picks off their victims one by one.

“Obviously this song is not about someone actually killing people, but it’s supposed to be a bit scary and dark,” O’Brien shares. “In my mind, it is just a cool visual that adds another layer to the song as well as an extremely necessary dramatic element. As I said previously, we wanted to make a movie.”

Whether you’re in it for the horror or in it for the thrill, “Sociopath” is an exciting and fresh take from a singer/songwriter we’ve come to respect and admire over the years. O’Brien’s energetic performance captures that feverish boiling of blood we’ve all have the pleasure of experiencing; the song churns with adrenaline, passion, and that fire blazing from within.

A vivid portrayal of intimacy and pain, human connection and a lack thereof, “Sociopath” is a full-bodied experience not to be taken lightly. Olivia O’Brien has stormed headfirst into 2021; there’s no telling the heights she might reach.

Dive into the depths of “Sociopath” in our interview below, and peak into the making of the music video with our gallery of select behind-the-scenes shots courtesy of photographer Carriane Older.

Broke me in half
You just left
Left me crying on the floor
Well, I guess it’s what I get
For loving a sociopath-path-path-path-path
Maybe you’re wired like that
A cold blooded sociopath
Stream: “Sociopath” – Olivia O’Brien



SOCIOPATH

Sociopath - Olivia O'Brien

Atwood Magazine: You released the song “Better Than Feeling Lonely” on January 1st. Why start the new year off with this song?

Olivia O’Brien: I had that song ready to come out for a really long time and I was waiting for the right moment. New years felt like a fun and chill time to release it without too much pressure… I just wanted to put a song out for my fans without it having to be “the single” and making a crazy big deal out of it. It was kind of like a gift for my fans and a fun way to begin the new year on a good note for myself!

“Sociopath” is so striking, and feels like a definitive start of a new era for your art. Can you share a little about the story behind your new album, or more generally your new music?

Olivia O’Brien: My new album has a bunch of different worlds living within it. I want every song and every visual to be individually unique and different from the others. My album concept allows me to do so without having to put myself in a box and stick to one thing. That’s all I can say for now without giving it all away, but I have never been so excited for a body of work.

What was your vision going into “Sociopath”? Did that change over the course of recording it?

Olivia O’Brien: When I was writing the song, I knew I wanted it to have a spooky horror vibe. I put a lot of metaphors in the song that portrayed that as well as using the “Psycho” theme sample at the beginning. I knew from the moment I made it that it needed a horror movie type music video and I wanted to do the song justice with whatever visual we chose. It just so happened that that idea fit perfectly within my album concept and I was so excited to be able to make that vision come to life.

How do you feel nothing, when I feel it all?” you sing in the first line. Can you talk a little bit about the story driving this song, and what was going through your head and heart when writing it?

Olivia O’Brien: I wrote this song about the feeling of loving someone who you don’t believe is capable of feeling anything at all. It’s frustrating and horrifying to think that you may have given everything to someone who couldn’t possibly give that back to you if they tried. I was trying to justify a person’s cruel actions as I realized it may have been a simple lack of empathy.

As a lyrically forward artist, do you have any favorite lines from “Sociopath”?

Olivia O’Brien: I love the line “hands on my neck but you’ve got no regrets for the marks that you left” and the bridge where it says “broke me in half, you just laughed, left me crying on the floor”… both of these lines paint the picture that this person is hurting me so badly. I love the imagery because it describes the pain that one goes through in these kinds of situations. It also adds to the horror of it all.


What was your vision going into the music video for “Sociopath”?

Olivia O’Brien: I wanted to create an actual horror movie… without it getting TOO dark. We tried to keep it light with some funny moments and comedic relief. Our inspiration was drawn from movies like “Scream” and the “Scary Movie” franchise… a little bit of horror and some laughs all in one.

How do you feel the video elevates the song, or adds depth and color to the song that may not be present in the audio alone?

Olivia O’Brien: I think it takes the meaning of the song to the next level… obviously this song is not about someone actually killing people, but it’s supposed to be a bit scary and dark. In my mind, it is just a cool visual that adds another layer to the song as well as an extremely necessary dramatic element. As i said previously, we wanted to make a movie.

What do you hope listeners take away from “Sociopath”? What have you taken away from creating it and now putting it out?

Olivia O’Brien: I hope that people enjoy the video as much as we enjoyed making it… and if people relate to the song, I hope they find some comfort in it. I know that a lot of people have been in similar situations and as much as it sucks, it’s nice to be able to listen to songs you relate to and scream the words with your friends.

How do you feel episodes reintroduces you and captures your artistry today?

Olivia O’Brien: I think that this album shows all of the different sides of me… not just in the type of music that I make but also in my personality and the things that I go through. I wanted to show the good, the bad, the happy, the sad, the pretty, the ugly, and everything in between. I don’t like to stick to one thing and this album has allowed me to be more free than I’ve ever been while still sticking to a concept.

What do you feel distinguishes episodes from your past work?

Olivia O’Brien: Episodes is the first project I’ve made/will have put out since I have grown into myself. I have never been this confident and happy with myself and my work and I think that shows through in this album. It’s not just a bunch of happy songs either, I am still a very emotional person and I always will be… but I truly believe that this project displays my growth as a person and an artist like never before. I am so proud of it and excited to show the world who I am.

What are you most excited for, about this album coming out?

Olivia O’Brien: I am just excited to put this music out finally… A lot of these songs are one or two years old and I have been waiting for this moment for too long. Patience is something I desperately need to work on, but I’m overwhelmed with joy that these songs will finally see the light of day. I am also super stoked to create all these visuals we are planning. I have so many ideas that are going to be incredible to bring to life and I can’t wait.

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:: stream/purchase Sociopath here ::
Stream: “Sociopath” – Olivia O’Brien



— — — —

Sociopath - Olivia O'Brien

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📸 © Carianne Older
BTS photos © Elinor Kry

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