After releasing her debut EP Why You Runnin’ in 2009, Illinois born singer-songwriter Lissie has been achieving fame within the pop and folk genres. She released her fourth effort, My Wild West, earlier this year and has promoted the album throughout Austin and Texas by not only touring to support the record, but performing at SXSW 2016 where she performed at a showcase at The Majestic.
Curious to know more about Lissie’s latest work, we sat down to talk with her while on tour in April before taking the stage at Emo’s. We discussed how she writes songs, the creative process behind the LP, and what inspires her.
Lissie, born Elisabeth Corrin Maurus, has always had the influence of music in her life — the craft is in her genes. “I’ve always had words and melodies just pouring out of me since I was little,” Lissie recounted. “I grew up loving musical theatre and then classic rock, but really I’ve enjoyed all kinds of music. My grandfather was in an international barbershop quartet singer and everyone in my family can sing pretty well.”
Inspired to pick up the guitar so that she could write her own material, Lissie would go on to have much success.
That success came when Lenny Kravitz discovered her on Myspace in 2008, but according to Lissie, that version of her story has been exaggerated. It turns out it wasn’t Lenny who actually discovered her, but a record label executive named Guy Oseary who was working with him. After Oseary had Kravitz listen to a few songs, she landed a spot opening for Lenny on his Love Revolution Tour that same year. “I think that guy was able to confirm my invitation to be the opening act through showing him some songs on my Myspace,” Lissie said.
Since then, Lissie has gone on to tour as a headlining act while bringing along her own band. This time she has decided to experiment with new backing musicians, as she parted ways with her original band last year. Instead of assembling a new group, she asked her current opening act, Skrizzly Adams, if she could use his band as her own during live performances. He agreed, and the two hit the road.
On her decision to use someone else’s band, she tells us: “I thought that I would just go solo and tour for a while, but upon releasing My Wild West, I knew I should do a full band run to support it. I moved last year [to Iowa] and amicably parted with my old band. I had the idea that I’d like to borrow an opening acts band. My booking agent works with Skrizzly Adams and suggested him. He’s kindly let me borrow his players and it’s been a blast! I’m very pleased with how it’s worked out.”
Curious to find out about the songwriting process on her latest effort, a mellow album that is perfect for fans of folk greats such as Joan Baez due to its simple and heartfelt songwriting, we asked Lissie how she forms ideas and where she found inspiration for the tracks on West. As Lissie provided a look into her creative mind, she told us that “when making My Wild West I was not entirely sure I was ‘making an album.’ I was just showing up to producer Curt Schneider’s with songs to finish and new ideas I had, and about halfway through it was clear that I was making a cohesive album.”
“It also was clear that this album was about my time spent west in California as I prepared to leave for the Midwest,” Lissie said. “In the past, there was much more of a plan and a collection of songs that had to be approved, as well as expectations that were involved.”
If you would like to read more of Lauren Gribble’s features, you can head to her website Listen Here Reviews.
Featured image courtesy of Lissie