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Olivia Dean, Make Tracks to Make Change
Olivia Dean, Make Tracks to Make ChangeCourtesy of VanMoof

Watch singer Olivia Dean find freedom and creativity through cycling

After a week spent riding a VanMoof e-bike around London, the musician reflects on how it improved her physical and mental health, plus making a positive impact on the planet

Over the last few years, VanMoof e-bikes have become the unofficial transport at the frontier of fashion and music. In Paris, Simon Porte Jacquemus can be seen zooming around on one of the brand’s sleek electric bikes – having collaborated on his own pink version in 2021 – and the likes of Frank Ocean and Tyler, the Creator have similarly been spotted bopping about on two wheels. Now, rising songwriter Olivia Dean has become the latest star to hop in the VanMoof saddle.

I love cycling,” she tells Dazed. “I love the freedom and spontaneity it gives me to get from A to B on my own terms, especially in the sunshine.” In fact, to prove her love of cycling, Dean recently spent a full week travelling solely on VanMoof’s S3 e-bike. The results – good news for the “Echo” singer’s physical and mental health, as well as the environment – are captured in a new short film by Francis Plummer, titled Make Tracks to Make Change.

The week was a busy one, with the Walthamstow local travelling between rehearsal sessions, barbecues, meeting friends, and a festival gig. Travelling by VanMoof, however, introduced a new degree of freedom and flexibility, she says. “On a bike you get to be free and really present on your journey. You’re not in a car or in the dinginess of the Tube. You can go off road, you can go chill in the park for a bit, you can change your route. No rules with the bike, only fun.”

One night, for example, Dean cycled from south London to Hammersmith with a friend, to see Leon Bridges. “The cycle was just as fun as the gig,” she recalls. “We went right down by the river and it was a perfect evening.” Other highlights include a pitstop at the city farm, where she fed some oats to the goats, or heading over to Brixton to play Cross the Tracks. “By the end of the week I felt like I’d really bopped all over the place,” she adds. Besides benefiting her physical and mental health, cycling also proved productive, sparking creative thoughts that ranged from songwriting ideas on the way to the studio, to random realisations (“Spinach would be a banging band name”).

Of course, it’s no coincidence that Olivia Dean had a good time pedalling about London on a VanMoof. Started in Amsterdam (where else?) in 2009, the e-bike company was founded with a vision to create the perfect city bike. Now, more than a decade later, the company comprises a global team of riders and designers, centred around five distinct models, with the new designs – the S5 and A5 – aimed at offering the most accessible ride yet.

Plummer’s film emphasises Dean’s urban adventures, taking the form of a dreamlike ride through her memories from the week (via lo-fi pics on her camera roll), mixed with hand-held studio footage. “In the studio, sometimes I can get a bit stuck in my head,” she narrates over a stripped-back piano performance. “It’s nice to just get out and cycle around.”

Summarising her week on the VanMoof, she adds: “I think cycling is so good for your physical and mental health, and the environment. Having a bad day? Whack on an album and go for a little cycle and you’ll feel so much better. Sometimes you don’t need a destination, just start going and see where you end up.”

Want to know more about Olivia Dean’s week spent travelling by VanMoof? Watch the full Make Tracks to Make Change video below, and keep an eye on Dazed’s social channels to send in your burning questions for the singer.