The Truth Behind the Song #6 – Olivia Lane’s ‘Hey 3AM’

Welcome to our new feature, ‘The Truth Behind the Song’. For the feature, we’ve asked a number of our favourite artists to give us in-depth piece about a song that has a special place in their heart. Today we feature the incredible Olivia Lane, who gives us an insight into the ‘truth’ behind ‘Hey 3AM’.

So hey 3a.m. is a song that I feel like I wrote, and it’s like one of the deepest most personal songs to me, and what kind of goes on in my brain. I feel like we all have those moments in our lives and seasons in our lives where maybe things are a little bit stressful. And for some reason our lives are keeping us up until the wee small hours of morning. And for some reason we can’t go to bed because we’re analyzing different conversations we had that day – if we would have said something different or if we would have made a different decision. You know back in 2010 maybe our entire lives would have been different or you know just maybe going down a YouTube rabbit hole. I don’t even know. But then you kind of just have to come to terms with like, ‘OK I for some reason can’t go to bed but I need to go to bed so I need to tell my brain to turn off.’ And that’s what I really wanted this song to be about, because I think we let our brains kind of do whatever they want to do when it comes to thoughts and things, and the things you tell yourself which everything you think isn’t true. You know what I mean? And so like I had to start practising like turning my brain off. I was like, I need to go to bed I need to actually tell my brain – “Thank you. I appreciate you. You do great things for me but I need you to turn off. I need you to stop.” And it took a minute for me to like train my brain to do that. I’d never really had trouble falling asleep but I just kind of went through this like random spout of not being able to go to bed because I was thinking about so much. And every time my mind would wander it was like ‘No!’. And then it would wander again I was like ‘No!’

I literally had to train myself to do that.

But yeah I mean I think that the song is about being stressed out about always being up at 3:00am but it’s also acknowledging 3:00am like ‘thank you for letting me be a mess with you. Thank you. Thank you for being there for me in my times of trouble and need. But I’m going to let you go and I’m going to go to bed’. But really where this idea came from – it was probably around like 2014/15 when I was kind of a new songwriter to Nashville. I been taking songwriting class at college but you don’t really fully learn something until you just really dive in and do it. So I was in Nashville and was trying to find the people that really understood me as an artist that got me.


I was learning about myself but I just kind of went through the season of staying up really late and I looked at the clock and I was like ‘hey 3:00am of course again What’s up?’ I’ve been up every night at 3am and I was like that’s kind of a cool idea I’m going to write it down. And so I was starting to pitch it at writes – a lot of people didn’t want to write it with me and so I kind of locked it in my brain as ‘not a good idea’ but I left it on my phone. Fast forward a couple of years later I was up again at 3am I was having one of my, you know, weekly episodes of being up at 3am for multiple nights and I was just looking at the clock being like hey, it was the same thing that had just happened a couple of years prior I was like ‘Hey 3am what’s up?’ And my brain was like ding and I swear like I was like ‘Oh my God I feel like I have this idea’. I kind of forgot about it. So scrolling through my phone and there it was ‘Hey 3am’ and I was like OK this is too weird this has happened to me twice. God is clearly trying to tell me I need to write the song. So I took it into the write the next day and I was like Aaron I have to write the song. It was a Friday and I got to the write had this idea all prepared. All the ideas.

[00:04:06] And he spins around his chair and he’s like oh ‘I feel like a light-hearted up tempo’ and I was like, ‘Cool I have a completely opposite idea from that and we’re going to write it. You don’t have a choice!’ Because I know him so well and he knows me so well as a co writer, that we just totally vibe on it. I pitched in the idea and it’s like it downloaded into his brain as soon as I told him, and so we wrote it and two and a half hours later we had the song and I kind of knew we had something special. But of course I have to send it around to my team to make sure they all love it and they all loved it. I was like ‘This has to be – I don’t know if it’s gonna be one of the first songs, I don’t know if it’s gonna be on the E.P, it just has to be part of my story’ because I just really feel like it explains me in a really really vulnerable light, which I think a lot of my early music kind of skimmed over that part of me a little bit. And with this new music with ‘You Got Me’ and ‘Hey 3am’ I just really wanted to show that more vulnerable side that a lot of people on my team saw in me and I had trouble seeing.

The production behind – it’s almost like I was a pendulum. I like went all the way crazy fun up tempo like whatever. Then I swung all the way to super emotional deep vulnerable and me my producer were like ‘Yeah let’s just do a guitar vocal like that’s going to be the track and I send it around to my team and my A and R girl Carol I was like ‘Hmmmm I don’t think this is it. I understand where you’re coming from but maybe the track needs to be thought about a little bit more.’

And so me and my producer went back to the drawing board and we’re like ‘Maybe we should add some keys and some – you have to think about music sort of from a objective standpoint of not only just what you want to hear, what sounds nice,but meaning wise, what will deepen the metaphor of the song with the sounds. So if at 3:00am, if you start with one thought and you go down a rabbit hole and then you eventually fall asleep it’s kind of like a roller coaster. So you start at the base and you kind of have to go through that crazy rabbit hole and then you kind of return back to sleep. So that’s what the song needed to do and needed to grow and then it needed to die back down again. And that’s how we sort of took the production. It starts with a very vulnerable guitar, vocal and a sort of tick-tocky drum loop thing and then it sort of escalates by adding keys and BGV’s and it’s sort of supposed to represent the chaos that can sort of start building in your head if you don’t say ‘OK I’m going to bed’. So that’s sort of how the production unfolded which was a really interesting experience for me to go through because I’ve never really cut a super vulnerable song – like it was such a new experience for me cutting something like that. And I’m I’m very involved in my production – I’m there in the studio as much as possible just making sure I know everything so I can relate to my musicians when they when we start to listen to it and go out on the road and stuff. And I have a lot of influence and what I want to hear because I have a very my gut is very strong. I feel like when and especially when it comes to my artistry.


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