Liz Lawrence is a singer-songwriter who is well and truly on the rise and her new album Bedroom Hero is on the horizon.
We caught up with her to chat about the new single, album and what lies ahead for her as 2012 draws to a close.
- You are about to release your new single Bedroom Hero so what can we expect from the new track?
Well it is the title track from my album of the same name, which will be out in January next year. Basically it has got a folky vibe to it, it is probably more folky than some of the other stuff that is on the album; some people have described it as a winter song and has an open fire feel.
I wrote it with the intention of talking about being a songwriter and wondering if you are any good or not - whether you are a genius, a fraud or if someone is going to find you out.
- You have slightly touched on my next question really as you say this track is based on being a songwriter so how much is the track inspired by your own desires - as you wrote this when you were a teenage?
I wrote it when I was at art school in Devon so I was about eighteen. I was studying in the countryside and I was desperate to get into the city and the only way that I could see of doing that was to write a really good album and get rescued from my horrible university experience (laughs).
What it also came down to was I was spending hours and hours and hours in my bedroom looking out of windows - I always use to take photos of the window views that I have had because I spent so much time in my various rooms - and there are thousands of young people doing this.
They are in their bedrooms playing their guitars and wishing that they will write something amazing. It is totally about my desires to be a rock hero.
- The single is released next week so how have you found the early response to the new track?
It has been really good and there have been some really lovely write-ups. Having already released the album in Ireland earlier this year we have got the video up on YouTube and the responses to that are always fun - the video shows a sofa being dragged through Brighton with me sat on it (laughs).
The response has been great and I have played it live for the last two or three years and it is quite a sold track for me and I feel that it identifies me quite well.
- You have mentioned the video and it looks like it was a fun one to shoot?
It was except it was absolutely freezing - I was just so cold. We started shooting at about six in the morning and finished when it went dark which was about seven in the evening and I had not been practical in what I was wearing.
It was literally a case of shooting for five minutes and then someone would warm me up and put me back on the sofa (laughs). But it was great fun it really was.
- And it is the title track of your album so can you give us any hints as to what is to come on the rest of the record?
The record, for me, is very colourful and it has got some really diverse sounds; some stuff is poppier while some stuff is more acoustic and laid back.
A lot of the content of the album is about growing up, leaving home, connections to your family, falling love for the first time - I can only say this in hindsight as when I was writing it I had no idea what was going to happen.
There are a couple of tracks that are about being a student, being drunk and watching television. But it is quite diverse as there is some sad stuff on there but mostly it is always bittersweet with me as I don’t like to be too depressing.
- How does Bedroom Hero the single introduce us to the rest of the album as you say this has a folkier sound to the rest of the tracks?
I think that that folky element does still run through because I am a songwriter. But there is a full band production on most of the tracks but with Bedroom Hero it was one take with just me and the guitar.
We had done this really acoustic version of it with just some backing vocals and I sat with the producer Tim Ross and he said ‘I think that is it’.
But I was like ‘I don’t know, I think that this song has something else to it and something more rhythmical and we sat for the next ten days with a snare drum and just hit these drums over and over. Eventually this marching vibe just came out and I was like ‘that is it, that is what I wanted’.
I played all of the instruments on this track because we did it in this shed rather than in a studio with the band and I guess that is what I mean when I say it is more folky as it is a little rougher compared to the rest of the album which is a little more polished.
- Your music is very guitar driven and acoustic in places so how do you feel that this style suits your voice and your song-writing?
You have to use the resources that you have - when I first bought an electric guitar I was in a punk band but they wouldn’t let me sing because I was a girl.
But then I bought an acoustic guitar and I sat down with it and really learnt my voice and it just changed naturally and settled down with what I was playing.
Whereas now the stuff that I am working on now is a little more electronic - so I might be playing the organ on the keyboard and your voice changes then too.
I am hoping that in the rest of my career that I will always change things up but this album is definitely a guitar and vocal approach.
- You have mentioned the producer already so how did that collaboration come about?
One of my first mangers… it was quite exciting because I was down in Devon studying and I get this call from an Irish chap saying that he wanted to come to Devon to meet me after finding me on the internet.
So he flew down and said that he wanted me to meet this young producer Tim Ross, who was the song of Irish singer Christie Hennessy, to make a few tracks together.
I went out to London and I started recording with Tim and I just trusted him a lot to have a voice - I was so young and I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to say what I wanted. But Tim was such a lovely man and it just made the experience really natural.
- In recent years you have toured with the likes of The Civil Wars, Scouting for Girls and Ani DiFranco so how have you found those experiences as you have built up your live performance?
It is great. It is always so funny because when you are on the gig circuit I know them all and I play with them all and it is like things as they happen.
Supporting these great artists is good for your head because music is such a hard industry as there are so many artists and when you get to meet and play with someone who then becomes a success you go ‘at some point that will be me’. Just meeting people who are good at what they do is just amazing.
- I was reading that Ani Difranco is one of your idols so how special was that tour?
God it was terrifying, it was terrifying. She is so powerful and she is such a wonderful lyricist so it really was daunting.
Her fans and her audience really love her and I came on stage and they were a bit like ‘this is half an hour of our lives where we are not watching Ani DiFranco’.
But by the end it was great. It was important for me to play with her because she is so brave and I think that it is hard to be brave sometimes when you are being honest on stage to a load of strangers.
- Speaking of touring you will be hitting the road in the new year so what do you have planned for those shows?
Basically it will be as many UK dates that I can fit into a month or so - we are just booking it all now - so I am just going to jump in a car and get people as interested in this record as possible before taking myself away to write for the next one.
So I am hoping to go to places in the UK that I have never been before and try and build up fans in new areas.
- So how did you get into music? And what made you want to pursue it as a career?
I don’t know really. My family always listened to records and I would come home and my mum would be dancing around the kitchen to Faithless and then later on my dad would be cooking to Tom Waite.
So I always knew the power of music and how it could make you feel things because it was so joyous. I guess I just fell into it as I started with this band that was just something to do on the weekend when we were thirteen or fourteen - it meant that we could stay out late playing gigs.
Before you realise it you have fallen in love with it and you don’t want to stop and I think it what happened. When I was a kid I wanted to be a football player and I wanted to draw for the Beano so it wasn’t my plan actually - but now it is my plan (laughs).
- Finally what is next for you?
Well at the minute I am working on various project - I am writing a song with Kathryn Williams and we are trying to write a woman called Temple Grandin.
I have just become very fascinated with this character and so I am trying to do some writing for that. I have this house gig next week - I am doing a live stream from my flat - and I will be shooting the cover for the album release. So it is busy.
Liz Lawrence’s album Bedroom Hero is out early next year.
FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw