She makes living look fun, singing look easy and she has layered levels of natural cool piling up by the minute. Known for her power vocals and talented songwriting, this mix of rebellion, independence and girl-next-door men love and women want to shoot tequila with, Lissie is definitely blazing a trail for a new generation of women artists. Lissie had a chat with Alethia Austin about her upcoming album, what happens in the green room before concerts and of course, her beloved pup.
Alethia: Hey Lissie! Thanks so much for taking the time out of your hectic schedule to have a chat. How are you doing?
Lissie: I'm good thanks! I'm on tour currently, writing from a computer in Annapolis, Maryland! I've been enjoying being back on tour.
A: I've been following you since your LA days back at Crane's. It seems like within a few years you got picked up by an international audience and embraced by the industry. How did it feel growing so quickly?
L: It hasn't felt quick by any means. I moved to LA at 21 to "make it" and I am 30 now. It's been a very gradual growth. I started doing Wednesday nights at Cranes with my other musician friends in 2006 because I wanted a place to play and really just somewhere to feel a part of something. In 2007 I signed a record deal with Columbia in the UK but didn't make my record until 2009 and even then it was over a year before it came out. Once it did come out in June 2010 (I put out a little EP I'd done in Ojai and North Carolina in Nov. 2009), I started to get press and offers to open for other acts, play festivals, etc.. That led to us getting fans and doing our own gigs and just building our fan base through live shows and also online videos and my songs being placed in TV, commercials and movies. It's always cool to meet people and hear how they found out about us. We've stayed busy, so that has helped expand our reach. But, yea - it hasn't felt quick :)
A: You've been recognized by and worked with Lenny Kravitz, Bill Reynolds, Ray Lamontagne to name a few. That's incredible. How were your experiences with them?
L: Lenny Kravitz was cool. I hardly talked to him. I was pretty new to touring in 2008 and had this idea we'd all be hanging out and partying because I was opening. Then I realized what a grind and what hard work it all is, so we barely crossed paths. Ray Lamontagne was fun to open for. His fans were very attentive and he was really sweet. Bill Reynolds has become one of my dearest friends and now lives in Ojai as well. We have a great working relationship. He's an awesome producer and makes my voice sound better than anyone I've worked with! We just have this one in a million connection creatively and work really well together.
A: Is there an artist that you'd love to work with?
L: I really like Phish and Metallica, so if I could ever jump up and sing with them onstage that'd be pretty rad!
A: There's a heavy sense of rawness, truth and no bullshit to your music and you as a performer that really separates you from a lot of musicians in your time/genre. Has it been easy or a struggle to stay true to Lissie with the music industry's habit of over-production and heavy influence into artist's personas?
L: The things that have been a struggle have just been life stuff, self confidence and being able to articulate my vision. I'm pretty transparent though and don't know how to act other than myself so any time I was encouraged to do something I didn't vibe with, it'd show and be awkward and then we had no option other than to just go back to letting me do my thing because that was the only appealing thing I could do! (laughs)
A: I read somewhere that your mom and dad work in non-musical careers. Did you find this talent on your own?
L: Yeah, my mom does interior design and was an art teacher for awhile. She is a good painter, so there's an artistic streak there and also my dad's father was a singer so we can all sing pretty well, my parents and siblings. My dad's a physician, though. I think genetically we are musically inclined and then I think because I was the youngest of 4, singing was a way to get attention and express myself. So it all added up to me pursuing this as a career.
A: What's the vibe like in the green room before you go on stage? Tequila shots and belly rubs for your dog?
L: I wish my dog was on tour with us! He stays with my parents when I'm away. It's pretty mellow backstage. The band chills, does yoga, snacks and drinks tea. I pour hot water in a bowl and then put a towel over my head and steam for like 30 minutes pre-show while I warm up my voice. I make hot toddy's with tequila and start sipping those about an hour before the show, so I get a little loose but not drunk :)
A: You just released a new video (which is fucking awesome, by the way) for 'Shameless.' The song feels like you're pushing space between someone/something that's coming at you with wrong intentions (industry?). What was the inspiration behind it?
L: Thanks! I was feeling grumpy about what I perceived as this "style over substance" to the music industry. I was feeling insecure I guess, too, because I think I'm pretty good at what I do and just because I won't play the game, I will get overlooked for someone who may be visually appealing or have a story filled with hyperbole but at the core isn't a very strong singer or musician. I battled with the song because I didn't wanna be mean or seem angry, but every song I write is in the moment I feel the thing I am singing about so it felt like a part of my thought process I should share and a statement I should make! It also nods to being famous for the being famous thing or where "no press is bad press" and people get rewarded for acting like asshats.
A. When is the next album coming out? How are you feeling about it?
L: September! I can't wait! I'm proud of it. I really enjoyed making it. It took forever though, so I'm just ready to have new music out so I can carry on and continue to make more new music! To have something new to promote to get back out there and keep growing and finding new success and opportunity!
A: Thanks again, Lissie! You rule super hard and I can't wait to hear that new album!
L: Thank you, Alethia! I appreciate the great questions and I hope to see you soon!
Show some love to Lissie on Facebook and catch her at a live show soon - you'll thank me later! -Alethia Austin