One hot California afternoon, a man was walking to the sound of soft crackling-water flowing through a creek. As he strolled along he noticed something lying on the ground. The object was made of old cracked-wood with the word Veriflex painted in bright colors on the bottom. The man picked up the object and discovered that someone had abandoned a skateboard. Instead of just leaving it there, he decided to give the skateboard a new life and he took it home to his daughter.
“I was pretty young, around six or seven when my dad found an old Variflex skateboard down by the creek and he brought it home. Ever since then I’ve been just cruising,” Rohde said.
When she was in middle school Rohde remembered admiring her older neighbor. She always thought he was “cool” and “hip” and wanted to be able to do what he could do on a skateboard.
“Then a neighbor kid had a curb in front of his house,” she said. I don’t have a curb or anything, just a street. He was always waxing it up and grinding on it. So, I was like ‘I want to grind’”.
Because of the neighbor kid, Olivia was off to a good start at a young age and learned the basics by just copying the older kids. Thanks to her predecessor, not only did he show her how to do tricks, but he helped her with acquiring better tools so she could build on her repertoire.
“I didn’t have the proper equipment, but he hooked me up and gave me an old Powel Peralta with super small wheels, Rohde recalled. “Totally nineties, anyways, I would just do what he did and grind the curb and he taught me to ollie and I just went from there.”
Rohde continued to mix things up by creatively incorporating her environment with her skateboarding.
“I never went to skate parks, because there wasn’t any around here, she said. “I just grew up skating the streets of San Juan. We would ollie down four stairs at a church and be like YEAH! Ya know, like with all the neighbor kids…ya know like acid dropping random things like the electrical box. I would 180 a planter that was like 1ft.”
Running the streets of San Juan with the local brood kept Rohde busy during her free time. Her other time was spent participating in school sports and playing instruments. Rohde played various instruments from an early age, but it wasn’t until high school when she picked up the guitar.
“Fourth grade I played the violin, fifth grade trumpet, and then sixth grade I played the French horn till 11th grade,”Rohde said. Then I picked the guitar up my sophomore year. My friend’s boyfriend would bring his guitar to our water polo practices and play cool stuff like Sublime. I always liked it and he showed me a few things. I just started learning what all the chords are because I would always play by ear.”
Rohde remembers always singing while listening to music. Eventually she would combine her love for singing with her own lyrics and melodies. She eventually started playing in a band and working on her solo material on the side. She is now pursuing her solo career in full force by teaming up with a very talented producer.
“I’m working with the bass player for Billy Idol, Stephan McGrath,” she said. “We’ve made some great recordings in the last year. It’s given me the opportunity to see how everything works with music engineering and sound engineering. We’ve been co-producing all of the songs. I’m playing a majority of all the instruments on it and we’ve brought in a couple studio musicians and Steve’s playing bass.”
Whether she’s playing music at an art show, an evening campfire, or in a friend’s garage, she creates a positive energy that swirls around the room. Rohde ’s voice has been compared to the voice of an angel with her songs originating from the heart; you can feel her sincerity through her lucid, powerful lyrics.
“Usually whenever I write my songs it’s based off feeling and whatever’s going on in my life,” Rohde explains. “I have an idea of what I want to sing about, then I’ll somehow come up with a melody in my head and then I’ll play around with the guitar until something just feels right, cord wise. Then I try to apply my lyrics to what feels right on the guitar.”
Whatever Rohde is up to like; playing music, skateboarding or surfing, she always knows how to bring a positive attitude and put all of her focus in the moment.
“Olivia is definitely one of the coolest humans I know,” said professional skater and co-owner of Hoopla skateboards, Mimi Knoop. “She’s cool as a cucumber and always in a good mood…her positive outlook on life is contagious, and that’s why we all love hanging out with her! She continually raises the bar on having fun and living life to the fullest! Yeah Olivia!”