An Interview with Liza Anne
by J. Scott Bugher
Sometimes when you want new music, you've got to dig yourself out of whichever decade your stuck in (don't nobody touch my precious 90s!) and open your ears up to something fresh & new, and nothing is more as such than Liza Anne, Nashville Tennessee's newest young lady of verse and melody. Her music is heavenly––soft, yet it rains down the torque and malice of a thrash metal band, which probably makes no sense. What I'm saying is: She draws emotion from the listener as Old Yeller does in film or as White Oleander does in fiction. Both sources are "soft" on the outside, but there is pain, and as it is said: "In art, only trouble is interesting." And to depict such deep feelings at age 20 really boggles me. I couldn't feel anything at 20. I suppose all the weed didn't help any. But, really people, Liza is the real deal. Whether your 18 or 65, her songs are timeless and will resonate with you in one way or the other. Liza was kind enough to chat with Split Lip for a while since I am a man of questions. I want to know her secrets, to know where she gets all of those wonderful toys.
"The Colder Months" Official Music Video
Liza, thanks for being here. You're 20, which is such a great age. You're not a teeny-bopper, bubblegum-chewing Mouseketeer, but you're not adlibbing oohs and aahs on American Idol. Given your age, I'll skip the whole "Why do you sing songs" question and hop on some hopefully new topics.
First, I am very interested in your guitar-playing, the voicing of your chords, your finger picking patterns. When did you begin playing guitar? Did you set out to be the next Eddie van Halen, or were you seeking accompaniment for songwriting? Do you use alternate tunings? Give me the full skinny on you and guitar.
Well, shit - the next Eddie Van Halen, everyone reading this is going to have such an idea of me. Man, I think that songwriting has always been on the forefront. But, I do remember when I was first learning guitar someone told me I played like a girl. And, from then on I stopped using obnoxious strums and major chords to tell my stories - I just made things up - picking patterns, chord faces, odd diminished sounds. Whatever created a sound most honest the the stories I was telling.
Furrthermore, I read that you went through a season of prolific writing when gathering songs for Colder Months. Are you often struck by inspiration, or do you have to reach for it at times?
I think I am constantly writing and creating, but inspiration is a silly thing. You never really know where it’s hiding but some days I just can’t find the mental capacity not to write. It’s my absolute vice, I adore it.
Lastly, who are some people––artists, fellow songwriters, authors, filmmakers––that you feel "molded" you, in part, to the place you're at now? As much as we all want to say it's our doing, surly you must have some outside influences.
To start, I’m really inspired by the independent world of curators. From filmmakers who are simply broadcasting to vimeo, to authors who run blogs, to instagrammers who take photographs that should be on the cover of TIME magazine, to small business owners who creatively build a tiny empire. I like the underdogs, and I figure there’s a lot to learn from them. As for specific people, Brandi Carlile and her way of presenting her art has always been inspiring. She kills it - every lyric, every brave melody - it would be kick ass to work with her one day.
Sweet. Thanks so much for the quick rapping session, Liza. Split Lip appreciates your time, and though we don't need to, we wish you the best with your forthcoming musical endeavors. You will go places you have no idea of yet.
We at Split Lip are most curious in an artist's creative process. Would you mind sharing how you go about taking a concept and building it into a song?
It all depends. Sometimes I have a progression I’m going crazy over then, like I said before, words just fall over as if they were always there. Other times, I have a poem or an idea that I have a bit of a melody too + work around finding an interesting progression to push it past just a simple-cliche-singer/songwriter arrangement. It’s all an overflow of how I process, though. I’m super observant, so nothing is missed and emotions only add to that magic.
You said that Colder Months is "a collection of stories that [you've] lived." You must have seen some serious shit during your early adulthood, perhaps childhood. Is there a core motivator to your songs?
Like I said before, I’m observant. It’s rare that something happens and it doesn’t hit me well and deep - the good and the bad, I mean. And, life is a heavy thing - we love and we lose and we try and find purpose in it all. I think that’s what I was doing is just giving all my sad stories a bit of purpose, rather than just leaving them on the shelf to tell some therapist one day.