Lissie Sings From the Soul and Reinvents Her Sound
The alt-pop singer-songwriter teases her moving new album before a show at The Hollow in Albany.
Photo courtesy of publicist, Heather Hawke, Reybee, Inc.
Lissie is ready for her next chapter.
For the past decade, the talented singer-songwriter has made a name for herself with her signature fusion of synth pop and folksy rock. She’s charmed audiences across the globe, gracing stages everywhere from her native Midwest to all the way across the pond in Norway. Now, in 2019, she’s ready to reintroduce herself with a bold, new sound, one that catches listeners with understated melodies and meaningful vocals. Freed from extra instrumentals, layers, and beats, the music shines through the unique pureness of one voice, one piano, and, occasionally, the strum of a guitar.
In anticipation of Lissie’s upcoming show at The Hollow in Albany on January 29, we caught up with the leading lady (full name: Elisabeth Maurus) to learn more about her new sound, her Hudson Valley performance, and what life is like on her Iowa farm.
Congrats on the tour! How is life on the road now?
Lissie: Good! I kind of go between really busy and hanging at home being very chill.
We hear you have a new album coming up. What can you tell us about it?
Lissie: It’s coming in spring. It’s a retrospective with songs reimagined as piano and vocal pieces. Follow me on Instagram for updates!
You’ve dropped four albums and performed across the globe. How have you gotten to this point?
Lissie: Since I was young, I was singing. I really started out as a singer-songwriter. Then I learned to play guitar, I got a record deal, I put up four albums. I’ve been really proud of all of that for almost a decade.
But I’ve lived with the songs for years and played them with various bands and solo. When I was doing some promo for Castles (her most recent album), instead of bringing the band over to London, I thought it would be a nice change of pace to have Joe, who plays piano in my British band, play as a piano/vocal loungey thing. And so I did.
How did it go?
Lissie: It went over great. In some cases, we were in small rooms, so I didn’t need a microphone. It was a fun and freeing experience. I thought I’d love to reimagine my existing catalog as a piano/vocal experience to give me the opportunity to breathe and have that space to feel free to shine. That was the inspiration behind [this new album].
How do you think your sound has progressed over the course of your album work?
Lissie: Each album is a very specific chapter of my life that I’m learning from. It’s taking that time and turning it into a body of work so I could move through and let go of those things. I could tell you the guy who inspired my first album. I could tell you the events that inspired my second album, like getting older. My Wild West was moving back to the Midwest. Castles was breaking a lot of patterns in the relationship I was in. Castles is kind of done now.
The progression is me working through life and relationships and hopefully learning. I hope my songs have a sense of hope in them.
Let’s talk about the tour. How is it going for you?
Lissie: I do solo tours quite a bit. I’ll do acoustic touring to give myself some flexibility. I’ve been playing songs as acoustics for a while now. I’ll do the late February tour with Josh [Radin], then I go over to the UK in late March, then to Norway. It’s a very transitional time.
And you’re coming to The Hollow! Have you been to Albany before?
Lissie: I’ve been to Albany in the past. I was there last January. It’s an absolutely beautiful part of the country. I’ve spent a little time in Woodstock, which is absolutely gorgeous too.
Looking ahead, what does the rest of 2019 look like for you?
Lissie: I’m still figuring that out. I was in Hollywood for five years, then I went to Ojai, California from 2009 to 2015. Then I moved back to the Midwest (to Iowa, although she’s originally from Illinois) and bought out this farm. I rent out the acreage and fixed up the house. I’ve yet to really live the life I see myself living on the farm though. I plant my garden and hang out with my dog, then I leave again.
This year is a very transitional time. I’ve wrapped up Castles and said what I needed to say about it. I’m doing a lot more stripped back, raw kinds of touring. I do a lot of stuff in Norway, too, so I’ll spend some time there in summer.
I say, “I’ll just do this tour and spend some time off,” but I have trouble saying no. 2019 is all about the hustle for me. Maybe 2020 will be the chilling out year.