who we are, ovtlier, music video, premiere, interview
[Photo by: Taylor Rambo]

OVTLIER are well versed in putting the spotlight on traumas in their music and accompanying imagery. With their new single focusing on toxic relationships, the group are teaming up with AltPress to debut their latest music video for “Who We Are.”

OVTLIER dropped their debut EP, featuring “Set The World In Flames,” in 2017 with What Doesn’t Kill You. The band released several singles over the years, recently sharing a revamped version of “Buried Me Alive” along with its own music video. They were set to tour in support of Motionless In White this past spring, but the run was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

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In collaboration with Justin “JD” deBlieck of Ice Nine Kills, vocalist Joey Arena wrote OVTLIER’s latest single, “Who We Are.” The song’s accompanying backtrack uses driving guitar riffs and punching drums to complement emotional lyrics about life’s difficulties and how they shape us. Arena says the music video takes a look into what unaddressed traumas can mean for a relationship and reveals how they’re approaching future releases.

Check out the new video and all Arena had to say about it below.

“Who We Are” features rich riffs, dynamic vocals and a raging breakdown. What’s your songwriting process like? Do the lyrics come first? The backtrack? Is a song written all at once or in bursts?

JOEY ARENA: Regarding “Who We Are,” the chorus, both melodically and lyrically, naturally popped in my head as I was driving in my car one day. All the music was written in the studio between JD and myself on the spot, going based solely on what I was feeling energetically. I’m currently on this “whatever I’m emotionally going through this week must come out in the studio” writing mode. I find myself overthinking less and creating more. If I outplay a riff, the artist in me will begin to second-guess or continue to tweak it. 

The music video’s imagery shows people struggling with substance misuse and relationships. How does it correspond to the meaning of the track? 

“Who We Are” is the collection of one’s traumas beginning at birth that ends up shaping us into who and what we become. It will affect our relationships, and we all wear it on our backs—some only hide it better than others. I enjoy getting to know people on an open, raw, and authentic level. I accept one’s individuality and place no judgment, for we are all just trying to figure our shit out. I wear no faces, and I conform to no trends. I live how I want and seek no validation.

I am often misunderstood by those who judge the way I live or the path I walk. At the end of the day, I am most happy and grateful to the individuals that accept me for who I am. I only hope everyone feels or will feel such self-love. Although [I’m] seeing a therapist and working with a shaman, I have begun to progress from my past. I choose and believe in self-betterment as it will hopefully strengthen my relationships and look forward to building new ones. It’s a constant uphill battle but one that brings me peace. The video is a dramatization of what a person’s demons or toxic behavior can spiral into. 

How did the idea for the video come together? Whose idea was it to have the song captured in that way through the video? Why was it important for you to show this imagery in relation to the song?

People who follow our visuals know we put a lot of thought behind the releases. My long-term goal is to eventually write or direct a film. I’m a huge movie buff and hope to one day dabble in it. I use our music videos as usually a sister-meaning or separate interpretation of what the song was written about. I like it when the viewer can relate in their own way without my influence. Plus, we have a habit of making the videos closer to short films ’cause three minutes and 30 seconds just isn’t enough to get some of the points across. 

The imagery is significant because it shows two individuals. One is the empath that continues to support and love, accepting her and all that goes into it. The other is the narcissist, taking advantage, lies, deceit, violence and self-destruction. What the video doesn’t show are the early life events and traumas that these two have gone through to bring them to where they are. Even the empath has his trauma, but he handles it differently, making them “who they are” and how it can either make for a beautiful or abusive relationship/friendship. 

In a recent music video for your reboot of “Buried Me Alive,” you play one of the main characters in the storyline. In “Who We Are,” you have a smaller role as the band are showcased playing throughout the clip. How are those two processes different? Is there one you prefer over the other?

I started OVTLIER in 2015, laying the foundation for wherever we are at today. At that time, it was only me, and I was ready to debut. I’m not much of an actor, though it’d be something I’d enjoy working at. I feel a full-band performance brings an energy a solo performance cannot. At the end of the day, I am down for whatever benefits the song or video. I try to keep it simple. 

You were orginally set to go on tour with Motionless In White this spring. Chris Motionless has also been supportive of the band by adding your song to his takeover on SiriusXM Octane. How does it feel to have his support, and what was your reaction to hearing the song on air? 

Chris is an awesome and genuine individual. OVTLIER were mid-video shoot for another song when I had received a phone call from Chris and my dear friend JD telling me that he had added us to his takeover. I was at a loss for words, and the warmest feeling came over me. I thanked him up and down, and even weeks later, he’s probably sick of hearing me say it. Still, to this very moment, I wake up and speak out my gratitude for what he did and the spark that became this fire of momentum. He is sincere, and a person like him shines through in this industry. 

You released your debut EP, What Doesn’t Kill You, in 2017 and have released several tracks since then. Are the band working on another big project, or are you exclusively focused on singles? What can we look forward to for the rest of the year regarding music or livestreams?

In my opinion, being that the industry has shifted into such a digital realm, I have strategically watched how pop and hip-hop evolve and continue to market. I took the same logic [and] made the decision to begin releasing singles right after the EP. It has not only allowed me to take my time to give all focus to each single, giving us a chance to put out the best content to our ability, but also keep up with the faster pace of the world’s attention span. Because of this, we get to put so much behind our releases and hopefully leave people wanting more. It’s been discussed that we will one day release a record of all combined released and unreleased singles to make up a deluxe edition, but for now, we are enjoying this process.