Credit: Natalia Mantini

Did you know that Secret Life's (newly) blonde bombshell, Renee Olstead, has a fabulous set of pipes? We got a sneak peek at Renee's gorgeous voice during the "Flash Mob" episode of Secret Life, and we're super excited about her new single, "She's Got Your Name" –– not to mention her forthcoming EP!

Check out our exclusive interview with the 23-year-old songstress, where she chats about her new album, her latest inspirations, and what it's like to work with her sexy boyfriend/producer, Tommy King!

Wetpaint Entertainment: You’re releasing your music independently now. Do you feel that you have more creative freedom?

Renee Olstead: Absolutely. The first [single] that just came out is a song that I wrote myself, with my boyfriend [and producer], Tommy King. It was really fun for me. I really enjoy writing, and I wanted to write a song that had a story; I wanted to create a start to finish a little piece of fiction that someone could look at and imagine the life this person was leading.

Have your influences changed since you went independent? What are they?

I'm kind of heading towards the ‘50s and ‘60s vibe. I've been listening a lot to groups like The Ronettes and The Crystals, and Phil Spector stuff. And Elvis! "I Can't Help Falling In Love" is one of my favorite songs. It's been cool, because I feel like everyone's heard me sing “The Great American Songbook.” I really love singing [it], but it's really fun to step outside of my box and create songs. It's been awesome to work on stuff that's more upbeat, too. There are a lot of options when it comes to writing songs in that sort of feel, like the ‘50s and ‘60s doo-wop, which I love so much.

Any plans to go back to a big label?

I think if I am to re-sign, it will probably be with a smaller label, because I would really like to have a small group of people that I'm working with versus a large label where you can get lost. I'm not sure if I'm just going to stay independent and keep doing exactly what I'm doing right now, or if it's going to grow. I'm not sure which direction it's going to go in, but I have an EP coming out in November/December. We're about halfway done with the recording process right now, [and] it's been really fun and exciting. I can't wait for people to hear it.

What was the inspiration behind your first single?

I was listening to an interview on the radio with this woman who claimed to only prefer to have relationships with married men. She was talking about how she always has the holidays by herself, and a lot of times birthdays come along and she has to spend it by herself. I [thought] that was such an interesting concept, and I wanted to write a song from that perspective.

You co-wrote this song with Tommy. How did that come about?

He brought me this [melody] and he was like, "Hey, I know that you write lyrics." They tend to be more my forte. I can't sit down and write out all the different chords and explain out all the voice things, [but] I'm really good with lyrics. I kind of dug my feet a little bit for the first few days, [but] when I heard the interview, I was so inspired because I had to write something that [matched] the melody, [which] was so interesting and so dark.

What was it like working with him?

The professional thing came first. We went on the road together when I was on Warner Brothers, and that's how we first met. He became my musical director, and we reconnected once I was older. We started dating around 19, and we've been together ever since. We've been together for so long, but we [had] never really written songs together until lately. I always was so apprehensive because he's such a prolific songwriter; I respect him so much, and I was like, "I don't want my ideas to seem silly." It was the same kind of apprehension I had before I started writing with my old producer, David Foster, whom I also respected so much.

Since then, we've been writing a lot — we've written probably half a dozen songs together now. It's a really great writing relationship, and it's really neat to bring that into [our] relationship as well; it's something completely new and exciting. I've had nothing but an amazing time together exploring this music.

What can people expect on your EP?

More originals, for one. Fans can expect more original content — stuff that I've written [alone] and written with other people. They can expect more of an upbeat record than some of my past ones. Something that's very individual, and very me.

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