Olivia Nied 16F on Interdisciplinarity, Neurodiversity, and Making Music

Nied wrote, arranged, and sang as well as played guitar, bass, piano, organ, violin, synthesizer, and percussion for the album. We talked to her about her time at Hampshire, her Div III, and how her college experience influenced her approach to making this album.

What did you study at Hampshire?

I really sort of split my focus among music performance, filmmaking, and a small amount of visual art. I shifted between these subjects both more formally through specific Hampshire courses such as Music Journalism for Radio, with Professor of Music Rebecca Miller, and iPhone Filmmaking, with Professor of Film and Photography Abraham Ravett.

Although I never quite got my Five College “punch card,” so to speak, I did make use of the Five College Consortium through a life drawing course at UMass and a jazz theory course at Amherst College. Something I love about Hampshire is that all of your experiences, even if they seem distantly related, can really inform your Div III.

"Hampshire encouraged me to always keep the end goal in sight, and to look at how the parts influence the whole." Olivia Nied 16F

What was your Div III? 

My Div III took the form of an iPhone film documentary about the importance of and the joy that comes from college friendships. I wrote, directed, filmed, and edited the documentary myself.

Tell us about your record. How did your experience here influence making it? 

I released my debut solo album, which I recorded at Northfire Recording in Amherst, on May 1. I played most of the instruments and wrote and arranged the record with the help of friends.

I directly attribute my ability to singularly focus on creating the album to how I went about following through with my Div III: primarily on my own, with advising and input from my committee. I had gathered an immense amount of footage for my Div III throughout my four years, and ultimately Hampshire encouraged me to make the hard decisions — sometimes for the sake of time, but also for the sake of seeing the big picture. This way of going about deciding what will ultimately help unify and move the final project forward was a technique I applied to creating my album.

When you’re in the studio recording most of the instruments yourself, it can be very easy to add too many different “spices to the soup,” and often when you’re thinking about the whole composition, holding back on some overdubs or simplifying your approach on certain instruments can really make things gel more. Hampshire encouraged me to always keep the end goal in sight, and to look at how the parts influence the whole. 

What would you say to a prospective student? 

I would probably tell a prospective student to simply try things out, even things you think aren’t directly related to your primary interests. For example, taking a music and psychology course at Hampshire really fueled my interest in exploring all things autism- and neurodiversity-related postgraduation, and made me realize I wanted to write about my own experiences as an Audhd (shorthand for people who are both autistic and have ADHD) on my new album. Truly, you never know. The ability to be fluid and experimental at Hampshire is such an opportunity!

>>> Listen to Just Enough.

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