After two years of cancelled gigs and Zoom song writing sessions, Olivia Faletoese is loving the live music scene's return to its former glory.
The emerging musician, who is graduating with a Bachelor of Music from The Australian National University (ANU) this week, is the bassist for indie dance-pop band Archie.
Named after drummer Xandy Wanjura's beloved German shorthaired pointer, Archie launched onto the local music scene in 2019. Their most recent single, Closure, was released earlier this year and was dubbed a contender for song of the summer.
Faletoese, Wanjura and guitarist Grant Simpson met as students in the jazz stream at the ANU School of Music. Fellow bandmate and synth player Geromy Houghton is also an ANU graduate.
Though the band has a distinctly indie sound, Faletoese has found her formal training in jazz really useful.
"I like knowing every single chord and how it works. It's interesting, because we all have different approaches, but the fact that we all got together at the same uni makes it work for us. We see eye to eye on a lot of things."
In the early days of their collaboration, the band would often journey to Wanjura's home on the south coast to write songs and play music.
Archie's electrifying pop sound, which has been compared to Daft Punk, saw them quickly gain popularity on the local Canberra scene. They even went on to open for New Zealand pop superstar Benee at a show in early 2020. But their upward trajectory took an unexpected turn when lockdowns and restrictions decimated the live music business.
"When COVID first hit, we just decided to try and do some writing over Zoom, but it was hard," Faletoese says. "It's hard to get momentum and keep going when you're not doing gigs all the time, and not meeting new people. Every time a lockdown lifted, we would jump back on it and try to do as many gigs as we could."
Archie's 2021 single Greener was released to critical acclaim, receiving airplay on Triple J. The accompanying music video was also selected for the Canberra Short Film Festival.
"We were super excited when we found out that we were going to be played on Triple J," Faletoese says. "We were super excited about all the support we received."
Faletoese now divides her time between teaching music at different schools and playing gigs with Archie. The band recently joined the line-up for Stonefest, the University of Canberra's annual music festival, and Faletoese is keen to hit the road in the near future.
"As soon as we can, I'd love to go on a tour with the boys to different parts of Australia," she says.
Immersing herself in life as a working artist has given Faletoese a deep appreciation her time at ANU.
"I found it really changed and shaped who I was as a musician for the better. I think I've really grown, not just from what I've learned from there, but also all the people that I've met."
Her advice to students is to make the most of the opportunities available. "Enjoy uni and keep pushing for what you're passionate about," she says.
Originally published by The Australian National University here.