Morningside is home to many creative, talented individuals. You can see it in the street art, the local businesses, and the many community initiatives, or amongst the local familiar faces from television, radio, or stage. Everyone seems to have something going on.
Olivia Nott is one of these creatives – and a very talented one at that. She’s also someone who passionately believes that creativity should be shared, challenged, and enjoyed. This is why she created Neighbourhood Notes.
Olivia hails from Nelson, where most of her family still resides. She moved to Auckland in 2017 and joined the Crave team soon after.
Outside of work, Olivia is a singer, songwriter, and guitarist, performing under the stage name NIKA. At the ripe age of 22, she’s already released two singles and preparing more. She also is the creator and MC of – as well as a performer at – Neighbourhood Notes Open Mic Night.
Olivia’s life is music. A simple mention of music and her energy shifts. Her voice becomes more animated, her eyes sparkle, and each musical story leads into another. It’s understandable – there’s not a time in Olivia’s life that she wasn’t surrounded by music.
Olivia’s entire family is musical. Her parents play, her brother and sister are an internationally recognised musical duo, her little sister is ‘a musical prodigy’ in her eyes, and her uncles, aunts, and cousins are all musical, too. The Nott family doesn’t only do family get-togethers; they do family jam sessions.
Olivia was 11 when she first picked up a guitar and 13 when she wrote her first song. She loves writing music – it’s the performing that scares her. This is where the “challenge” part comes into Neighbourhood Notes.
You see, it all started shortly after the Crave team cottoned on to Olivia’s musical prowess (which didn’t take terribly long). Olivia had heard of Crave’s Jam nights (back in the days of Crave 2.0, an evening of jams and jammy toast), and an idea struck her one day at work: “I was looking at my co-workers and the customers coming and going and I thought, there’s so many talented people out there, but none of us are ever showing each other what we’re doing.” She asked Nigel if he would consider another Crave Open Mic Night (which he didn’t really need to consider at all) and together they began to organise the very first Neighbourhood Notes.
The first night was an absolute hit. And while Olivia’s nerves around being the MC may have tapered off slightly since, the attendance rate for Neighbourhood Notes most certainly has not. There hasn’t been an event with fewer than 20 performers since the nights began.
Each event begins with Olivia introducing herself and welcoming everyone in. For her, it’s a way to get comfortable in front of others and also break the ice for subsequent acts. Many performers use the guitar or keyboard provided, or their own equipment, but for Olivia, the standout acts have been those who have brought their own bit of ‘something else’.
She recalls the brother–sister duo, whose angelic harmonies leave her with no other words than “YAAAAASSSSS”. The spoken word performer, whose emotionally charged words and perfectly timed correlating movements made it impossible for the audience to look away. And the young girl who jumped up on stage for an impromptu performance, confidently singing a song she created on the spot. It’s clear that picking a favourite is a hard task for Olivia, as is wiping the smile off her face and that sparkle in her eye when she reminisces.
Olivia’s busy schedule can make it tricky for her to keep the event consistent – she juggles writing and being a musician as well as working within the community of Crave. On top of that she regularly visits her family in Nelson (for jam sessions, no doubt) – but she is passionate about keeping the event going and growing.
If you are a performer of any description (well, most descriptions), she would love to hear from you. And, as it seems, the neighbourhood would, too. If you need a stage, a guitar, a mic, a keyboard, or just an audience, get in touch.
As for Olivia, it’s clear where her future lies. We just hope there’s room for a bunch more Neighbourhood Notes in there, too.