Filed under: feature, voice on the verge | Tags: alan pedder, interview, lissie, why you runnin'
voice on the verge #43: lissie
Lissie Maurus might look sweet and innocent but beneath those white-blonde locks lies a pleasing streak of trouble. And a whole lotta luck too; not so much a streak as it is a foot-high aura.
Signed to and then dropped from Maverick Records as it folded, she became a regular performer at the Hotel Café, the same venue that gave a platform to the likes of Lenka, Meiko and Sara Bareilles. Then two years ago, in January 2008, despite not having released a single note of music, Lissie was invited to go on a 10-date US tour with Lenny Kravitz – the result of knowing the right people at the right time – and from there her musical career has gradually been gathering pace. Combining the fresh-faced appeal (but not the naïve earnestness) of old-school Jewel with the unpolished twang of early Neko Case, Lissie has developed her own aesthetic, one with slightly more edge than many of her Hotel Café peers. It’s an engaging edge, rather than a distracting one. What you notice first about Lissie is inevitably the voice – the strong, soulful voice that emanates from her, seemingly without any effort at all – and the rest falls into place just as naturally.
Wears The Trousers caught up with Lissie just before Christmas for a quickfire round of questions. Here’s what she had to say…
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What did you listen to when you were growing up?
Musicals, then chick singers, cheesy country, gangster rap, then Phish, hip hop, then Grateful Dead… then everything else? Ha.
Who was the first person you saw in concert?
I think it was Neil Diamond?
What did you want to be until you decided to become a musician. if you ever did ‘decide’ that is!
Always a musician!
What would you be if you weren’t a musician?
Tell us about your favourite instrument.
My ’38 Kalamazoo acoustic guitar. It’s hard to play ’cause it has a baseball bat of a neck, but it makes me want to sit down and write music.
Which female musicians have most inspired you?
Bobbie Gentry. She’s such a great lyricist and singer. Her production was always really cool.
Which artist would you most like to work with?
I’d love to sing Allison Krauss’s part on the Phish song ‘If I Could I Would’.
What’s been the best moment of your career so far?
Finding my current band ’cause they suit me real well.
What’s your funniest studio memory?
Drinking moonshine in North Carolina and having a total blast recording!
What’s your favourite song to cover and why?
Currently, ‘Ramona’ by Bob Dylan. It reminds me of what someone could have said to me in my Hollywood days.
Are you multilingual?
I could sort of speak French when I did a semester of college in Paris. I’d like to re-learn / learn more. I did a little bit of songwriting in French but nothing anyone ever got to hear!!
Do you have a tattoo?
Yes, a circle on my right wrist to remind me of the impermanent nature of life, end = beginning; beginning = end… what goes around comes around, cyclical nature, circle of life etc., and a Japanese symbol I got in high school ’cause I was an idiot and that was the trend at the time. At least it means ‘song’ in Japanese. Now I have to go to Japan and have a memorable time to make it make sense?
What’s your top household tip?
Clean as you go so it doesn’t pile up.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever worked and what was so bad about it?
It was good and bad, a music club / bar in Colorado. Good ’cause I got to see lots of music for free; bad ’cause I had to clean up people’s vomit, like, every night, and clean the guys’ bathroom which was always super disgusting. You don’t even want to know what I would find in there!
What’s your tipple?
Tequila and tomato juice chaser.
What are your pet hates?
People that are too cool to be nice.
If you could star in any TV show, past or current, which would it be and what kind of character would you play?
‘Laugh-In’ …as a go-go dancer.
What was the last good book you read and how did it affect you?
Clan Of The Cave Bear [by Jean M Auel]. It made me want to run wild and live off the land.
What were you like at school?
Enthusiastic, then trouble.
So, what would you tell your 18 year old self if you could go back in time?
“Have more faith in life and the natural progress of things… things change …stop chasing boys around and let them chase you!!!”
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Lissie’s debut EP, Why You Runnin’, is out now through Fat Possum. She is currently recording an album to be released through Columbia Records later this year. She plays as part of an amazing lineup at the HMV Next Big Thing Festival on February 5 alongside Jesca Hoop and Cate Le Bon at the Camden Jazz Café. Keep up with her at www.myspace.com/lissiemusic
‘Ramona’ [Bob Dylan cover]
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