Get to know Liza Anne with FAULT

The Beast from the East is in full swing when we meet with Liza Anne in East London, just days before she heads back to the States to embark on a Spring tour, including a stop in her hometown of Nashville: ‘I haven’t played there in like three years, so that will be fun’.

 

The buzz surrounding Liza Anne and her music is growing within the US and beyond, and it isn’t hard to see why; her deep and genuine lyrics, brought to life with haunting authenticity by her outstanding vocals, resonate with people on a level that is perhaps unexpected, given the vibrant pop energy of her latest album, Fine But Dying. Speaking with as much passion about her music as she does about dairy-free cheese, Liza is refreshingly open as we talk about everything from her family and future, to her own relationship with mental health, and a surprising admission to being something of a Hilary Duff fangirl…

 

So, you were performing at Kings Cross last night, how are you enjoying things in London?

I love it! I lived in Clapham Junction for six months one summer, and I’ve been here so many times it’s as if I was at home. All the clothes and record shops I like to go to are near here, so it’s a great place to be. And there’s so much good food too!

 

Last night was so fun, although I was worried because I woke up and couldn’t speak a word, so all day I just watched Princess Diaries and drank ginger tea! I did an interview with Radio X too, which was amazing – they played four songs from the new record, two of which are actually my favourites.

 

There were some great reactions on social media following that, about how your songs spoke to people’s own struggles with anxiety and mental health. Do you find people relate to your music in that way quite often?

I think that people are just waiting for someone to give them permission, in a way, which was the same for me for so long; I was just waiting for someone to give me a space to be fully myself or to feel whatever emotion I was feeling, so it’s interesting how people react when you create that space for them to exist in. More often than not people are just beyond kind and generous about how much the songs have helped them, which is really sweet to hear.

 

What’s been your journey through music, to get to where you are now?

 

When I try and think of what I wanted to be when I was a kid, I can’t remember anything except the moment that I wanted to start doing this. I started writing poetry when I was 8 years old, and started putting my poems to music when I was about 14. I think Taylor Swift was pretty big then, and I was like ‘Oh my gosh, I could totally do this!’

 

Interesting! So, was Taylor the sort of music you were into back then?

I definitely did not listen to a lot of Taylor Swift! I didn’t really listen to much country music, even though I grew up where that was very dominant. I listened to a lot of The Cranberries and Joni Mitchell, but I grew up in a really religious household, so I wasn’t allowed to listen to much ‘secular’ music.

 

My first concert was Hilary Duff – August 11th2004! I genuinely, to this day, am obsessed with her. She’s incredible! My aunt, who’s kind of my muse, gave me a mix tape when I was about 13, which had Joni Mitchell and The Cranberries on it, and I was like ‘Oh my God, I could sound like this!’

 

That’s really interesting about your aunt, what is it about her that makes her your muse?

 

She’s a visual artist, and she’s just one of the most raw, real and kind human beings I have ever met. I think she just looks at life in this very specific way, which gave me permission to look at life as I needed it to be and as I wanted it to be. As well as her giving me records when I was a kid, her husband was the one who loaned me a guitar for the summer when I went to camp, and I learned how to play it there.

 

Are there any artists that you’re into at the moment you think we should keep an ear out for?

 

So many! I mean St Vincent isn’t exactly up and coming but, my gosh, I cannot get over her! It is just the most refreshing thing to see a woman do something so unapologetically. There’s so much intent behind what she creates. As far as new things I’m loving, there’s this one girl, Caroline Rose, who is unbelievable. I came across her on Spotify last week and I have listened to her record maybe 10 times since then. She’s incredible – her lyrics, her voice, everything about her.

 

It’s not that I only listen to female artists, because there are a lot of male artists that I really do enjoy, but I think it’s so important, as a woman, to support other women who are carving out a space for themselves. I think I naturally gravitate towards those sorts of acts.

 

Your songs address some rather dark and melancholy emotions, but still manage to be very ‘pop’ in style – how do you go about balancing that sound with the subject matter?

 

I think you have to sometimes trick people in a way; like, people might avoid [the music] if it felt heavy, but if you lure people in with a poppier sound, they accidentally end up finding more of themselves.

 

I think I realised early on that what I wanted to do was appeal to the person who, perhaps, wouldn’t necessarily enjoy or choose a sad song, but they’re the ones who are usually suppressing those emotions the most. I wanted to give even the most unlikely person a door to more of their emotions. That’s not to say that I haven’t written a slew of sad songs too!

 

How do you think your sound has progressed over the years?

 

I think from playing live shows, I started to want to feel louder, to have more of a full, cinematic sort of show; I was just by myself with an electric guitar, so there was only a certain level I could really reach. I started listening to St Vincent when I was already quite far into writing this album, as well as Lady Lamb, Broadcast and The Cranberries – and all of those things that I was naturally pulling from before felt like they finally had a place in the art I was creating. So more than just being something I enjoyed, I realised I could channel those things in my own music.

 

Your new album, Fine But Dying, is out this month, which is pretty exciting! How have you found writing this latest record?

 

It’s crazy, I wrote the first song on this record three and a half years ago! It’s always therapeutic. I think that writing, or art in general, has the ability to save whoever is experiencing it, as much as they let it. I went into this record wanting to be on different terms with my panic disorder than I had been before; I wanted to have a healthy relationship with it, and I wanted to have a healthier relationship with myself and with my partner. I think the intention behind making the record was for it to be a cathartic experience.

 

And what sort vibe do you want people to get from it, is there something in particular you’re wanting to communicate?

 

Like with any of my music, I just want people to have this space to completely be themselves, to feel their emotions and feel free and validated. I want to create a portal for people to explore themselves, just like I want the shows to feel like this wave of emotion – with high energy moments and real introspective moments. I just want it to feel natural and alive.

 

What’s next for you? Is there anything on your bucket list you want to tick off soon?

I don’t know, play Jools Holland probably! I just want to keep outdoing every last thing I did. I don’t like setting crazy goals, I feel like it removes you from the present moment in a way. It’s like, thinking ahead to the biggest thing that I might do when I’m in my thirties sort of takes away from the fact that I’m 24 now, and I get to record and tour this record that I wrote, you know? I think I just want to try to be as present as I can over this whole journey.

 

And lastly, Liza, what is your FAULT?

 

Oh no, so many things! I guess with the job that I have, you can get a little bit self-reliant and self-centred in a way. I mean, I don’t feel like I’m an egotistical person but sometimes I’m just like, damn, Liza, you should really consider people outside of yourself. Absolutely that.

 

Fine But Dying is available to buy now. For more information visit www.lizaannemusic.com

Words: Jennifer Parkes

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