A while back I happened to catch a performance by Lissie at the Old Queens Head in Angel. I hadn’t planned on watching her – truth be told, more about healing I was there to check out the band before her ; but my curiosity was piqued as I watched the room fill up with an expectant and excited audience, rx all craning their necks and standing on their tippy toes to get a better view of the girl serenading us. It’s been a while since I saw someone so captivating. Golden haired, this site freckled and just a slip of a thing, Lissie entranced the room who in turn treated her to a hushed and reverential silence, punctuated only by bursts of spirited applause and cheers. I watched the audience watching her. Everyone seemed transported out of their location; away from the top room of a pub on grimy old Essex Road and into the world that Mid-Western native come Californian girl Lissie inhabits, laced with the scent of orange blossom, filled with wide open skies, winding rivers and smokey mountains, and night-times spent on porches with nothing but a guitar, a couple of beers and a pack of Marlboro Reds . No wonder we were all captivated.
A couple of weeks later, I got to meet the busy Lissie. In the time between, Lissie had appeared on Jools Holland, toured around Europe, duetted with Ellie Goulding at The Great Escape, and graced the airwaves, all in the name of the hectic promotion of her debut album, Catching a Tiger (hot on the heels of the release of last years Why You Runnin’ EP). The phrase ‘riding a juggernaut’ comes to mind with Lissie; bursting into our consciousness with the brightest of starts. The day we met was a rare moment of down time; her touring schedule is in a constant state of flux – stretching to accommodate gigs that are being added on a daily basis, and Lissie had only just made it back from the previous nights gigs in Manchester and Newcastle. Curled up wearing her newest acquisition – a red jacket with white piping brought from a charity shop up North which made her look, she remarked cheerily, like “Santa Claus”, she lamented the ever decreasing amount of free time but was laughingly quick to note that it’s “a quality problem- it’s only busy because it’s going well, if no-one liked the music then there wouldn’t be things for me to do!” As Amelia’s Magazine is nothing if not versatile in its roles, I was happy to take on the guise of English Tourist Board representative, and suggest a list of places to visit when she finally gets a day off; though when that day will be, we will never know! ( FYI, Lissie was especially keen on the visit to Hampton Court Palace idea). As she munched on a healthy beetroot salad – my lunch advice was a visit to Mr Jerk in Soho for some fattening salt fish patties; probably best that not all of my suggestions get listened to) – I decided to find out just where this spirited… got her start in life.
I always loved to sing, I was a pretty outspoken, strong willed little kid! I got a little shyer and more introverted when I got older but as a kid I used to stomp my feet when I walked (swings arms in a very determined manner), I was always talkin’… My family were really sweet and encouraging, but at school I would get into a lot of trouble because I would talk back, I always knew what was best for me, and when other people used to tell me what was best for me, I would be like “uh oh! Not gonna do it!” (laughs) I loved to sing, so becoming a songwriter was a great way for me to express my feelings, you know. I wasn’t always great at talking about things, and so I could write these little melodies…. even as a little kid, I would sing my feelings. I sang to my sister; I do recall tape recording this mean song about her, and leaving a tape recorder about her under her bedroom door and then pressing play and running away! (laughs) And then in high school I went through my phase of being more introverted – I pierced my nose, got a tattoo, started smoking,….I did my own thing cause I didn’t really fit in to any particular group. I started writing music, taught myself guitar and then started working at this coffee shop where I could play.
What type of music were you listening to then?
Music wise, when I was younger I was into folk, Americana, musical theatre, and then in high school I was into country and gangsta rap
Those are two very different genres!
You wouldn’t think that these are similar in any way, but when you listen to either country or rap, it’s people telling their story. Indie rock can be more obtuse or obscure. Country and rap is some one speaking in the first person, you know? It’s more like, “this is my story, this is my experience.”
Do you respond to music that is more heartfelt and honest?
Totally, but I like all kinds of stuff. Although I don’t really listen to music to get inspired for my own music.
Did you move to California immediately after high school?
First I went to Colorado, to go to study at Colorado State. I was playing music and sang with a DJ there, and he ended up getting our song placed on tv shows. That was a catalyst for me; I realised that I could make a living making music, maybe eventually a good living! And then I went and did a semester of school (our version of uni) in Paris. I was singing there as well; I met a woman who helped me get shows in bars, and I also got some stuff played on college radio. After that I dropped out of school, and moved to LA – only cause I figured that that’s where you go when you want to be a singer!
Comparisons have been made to the hazy and bohemian rock n’ roll that came out of Laurel Canyon in the 70′s (think Joni Mitchell, The Doors, and Stevie Nicks). Lissie’s 2010 version is honed from living in an area not more than a mile or two away; Beechwood Canyon, a creative hub of artists and musicians and a world away from the plastic glamour and sheen of Beverly Hills. Los Angeles is known for chewing up and spitting up many a wide eyed starlet and ingenue, but strong-willed Lissie was never going to be one of the victims….
I don’t know if it’s me being stubborn, or being from the Mid West, but….I’m not bullshit, I don’t want bullshit in my life. I’m still nice, you know? I was never tempted by (the LA madness.) I always knew what I wanted to do. And I wasn’t immediately successful… I had figured that by 22 I was gonna make a record, and I didn’t make one till I was 26. But I was never like “I’m never going to be successful, maybe I need to be skinnier, or prettier, or I need to start doing drugs!
A year ago (while dealing with the messy end of a relationship) Lissie made a decision – part gut instinct, part cosmic order – to leave LA and head north to the tranquil town of Ojai, a place that she had never even stepped foot in…
Do you get inspired by the peace of Ojai?
Unfortunately i was more inspired to write when I was in Hollywood, because there was more more me to get worked up about. (sighs) There was this guy that I dated…… we broke up and our breakup process was drawn out and painful, which gave me a lot of material (laughs). Part of the reason why I moved was because it felt like my family was broken, and I needed a change. I put it out there; I was on a plane coming back from Tennessee and…. sometimes I just say what I want, and try to have faith that it will happen, and this is the weird thing; I found myself sitting next to two people who lived in Ojai, and I told them that I was heading back to LA, and they suggested I visit Ojai. So I got back to LA and instantly knew that I couldn’t be there; there was something in me that said “you have to move to Ojai, even though I had never been there before!” I went online, and found this house that cost less than my apartment in LA . I put down a deposit and moved, gone! And it was the best thing for me. I totally healed my heart there, and got myself in a position where I could really focus on myself, and what I need to do. I live alone, with my dog, I go for walks. And I make a ton of pie! (laughs)
So you have a summer of touring in England?
Yeah, every day we get a revised schedule. We’re (Lissie and her band) doing festivals for the next few months, and in October, November and December there will be at least one thing a month going on in England, so it’s unclear whether we will just stay here or start our momentum in the States, ’cause I still have to go promote my album over there. I don’t exactly know what’s going to be happening, but it’s all good.
Bethan Smith by Dee Andrews.
This year, thumb for the first time, Latitude Festival will be hosting repeat runs of the graduate fashion shows from Central Saint Martins and Chelsea College of Art and Design: lovingly reproduced on a special catwalk by the lake near the Waterfront Stage.
Don’t miss this opportunity to catch some of the best up and coming fashion designers showcasing their work in such a wonderful setting, so very far from the usual hubbub associated with urban fashion shows.
Of course I couldn’t resist putting a sneak preview of the best designers out to a host of illustrators…
Central Saint Martins
Sorcha O’Raghallaigh by Abigail Daker.
Check the amazing chiffon head-dressed swirling layers from Sorcha O’Raghallaigh, all based on the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. We particularly loved Sorcha‘s stuff in this previous blog post.
Zoe Sherwood by Lisa Stannard.
or fabulous feathers and dip dyeing from Zoe Sherwood – all based on the different stages of a bird in flight
Anne Karine Thorbjoernsen by Dee Andrews.
or how about Russian Constructivist theory transferred into stunning spiked dresses courtesy of Anne Karine Thorbjoersen?
Felipe Rojas Llanos by Yuann Shen.
not to mention the couture influenced pod shaped menswear from Felipe Rojas Llanos
and from Chelsea College of Art and Design
Bethan Smith by Dee Andrews.
Look out especially for sculptural textiles from Bethan Smith, inspired by Native American ceremonial dress
Beth Parry by Rachel Clare Price.
twisted knitwear from Beth Parry
Lauren T-Franks by Barbara Ana Gomez.
contemporary folklore from Lauren T-Franks
Sophie Parker by Abigail Daker.
wide-checked pants and quilted capes from Sophie Parker
Nichola Orchard by Donna McKenzie.
ruffled and bumped accessories inspired by skin and mountain ranges from Nichola Orchard
Ellen Chatelain by Lisa Stannard.
knitted patchwork stripey jumpsuits inspired by 1960s science fiction from Ellen Chatelain
Shawana Grosvenor by Sine Skau.
and creamy circular tailoring from Shawana Grosvenor.
Models will be provided by Elite, which might well excite the man in your life… and this major model agency will also be scouting the festival for the next big thing. Ooo-eeeee. Will you be down by the lakeside this weekend?
Written by Amelia Gregory on Wednesday July 14th, 2010 12:24 pm
Categories ,Abigail Daker, ,Anne Karine Thorbjoersen, ,Barbara Ana Gomez, ,Beth Parry, ,Bethan Smith, ,catwalk, ,Central Saint Martins, ,Chelsea College of Art and Design, ,Dee Andrews, ,Donna McKenzie, ,Elite Models, ,Ellen Chatelain, ,Fashion Show, ,Felipe Rojas Llanos, ,Graduate Show, ,Latitude Festival, ,Lauren T-Franks, ,Lisa Stannard, ,models, ,Nichola Orchard, ,Rachel Clare Price, ,Russian Constructivism, ,Shawana Grosvenor, ,Sine Skau, ,Sophie Parker, ,Sorcha O’Raghallaigh, ,Waterfront Stage, ,Yuann Shen, ,Zoe Sherwood