Liza Anne releases her first album on Arts & Crafts Records on July 24. It is called Bad Vacation. If all vacations were like this we’d all need therapy and the party afterward. Bad Vacation is a 14 tracks that can be breezy and danceable. They also have lyrics that rip apart facades and stare life in the eyes. The title track is a small taste:
Bad Vacation was recorded with her touring band of Robbie Jackson, Josh Gilligan, and Cody Carpenter. It also includes Lou Hayat.
Anne’s previous albums include Fine But Dying, Two, and The Colder Months. In a previous life you would see her self-depreciate her own fears and anxiety. You can still get the T-Shirt “Liza Anne’s World Famous Melancholia.” Bad Vacation marks a turn that is dramatic. Liza Anne is fully formed and ready to grab her place next to St. Vincent, Sharon Van Etten, and Leah Wellbaum.
Liza Anne has created a virtual retreat to accompany her album release, a ‘Bad Vacation’ micro-site – featuring a 1-800 hotline, reading list, playlist, bundles, and more at https://badvacation.co/
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Bad Vacation, the album?
LA: Once we started making it, it was the most seamless process. I think the most difficult part was all the false starts – I had written the record over almost three years and we sort of soft started making it a few separate times – different factors keeping us from committing to making it. Mainly, I knew I wasn’t finished writing it. Once I gathered myself, finished and revised the songs I felt strongly about – it happened in one full swoop.
FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Kyle Ryan, Micah Tawlks & Justin Mendal-Johnsen. How did you meet? What made you decide to work with them on this project? What did they bring to the project?
LA: I can’t imagine this project happening with any other crew of people. In a Feist documentary I watched years ago, she described the people you invite into your creative space like pedals on a pedal board and the same song can have a completely different experience given whatever people/pedals they are being filtered through – I think that each of them, Justin at the beginning with Devotion and Desire… Kyle, demo-ing with us before some of the songs were even done, even writing a handful of them with me … Micah, bringing a sense of feeling to it I didn’t even realize was hidden in some of these songs. All three of them made me feel capable in a way I hadn’t felt before. I could expand, but the truth of it is – their brains are all over this project, along with the moosh of us as a band, Robbie, Lou, Josh and Cody – this record is like a communal handprint. I feel so lucky for the collaborative side of what we did.
FEMMUSIC: Tell me about “This Chaos, That Feeling.” How did the song develop? Tell me about the intro on the song?
LA: This song was a stream of conscious that just happened one day. I was fucking around with guitar and just processing the pain of the end of my last relationship. I just sort of spoke the words over this droning chord pattern, building into this really simple chorus. I brought it to the band and it took its first “shape”. We played it on tour for Fine But Dying – the song lived almost two whole years before being reborn in the way it is on the record. It’s lived a lot of life, that little buddy. It gives me lots of room to be angry about something that felt hard to feel in real time … sometimes when you love someone, anger takes a strange backseat. Maybe that’s where resent grows. Anyways, each time I play it, I let a little more go. It’s a healing act.
FEMMUSIC: The final track “Too Soon” had some wonderful arrangements to it. How did that song develop?
LA: I wrote this song two days after the first time Josh and I kissed. And, in every sense, it felt too soon. I was experiencing a heart swell towards my best friend. Someone who would feel shitty to lose and I wasn’t sure if, in passing that threshold from buddies to being all close and smooshed and romantic … I don’t know – I just was scared it would ruin the whole thing. It felt brave to even admit love was growing. At that time in my life, I would have taken “I don’t need anyone” to my grave – I think Josh knew that it was a bit of an act all along, that’s probably why I’d always felt so drawn to him. “Too Soon” is a catalogue of giving into that initial attraction.
FEMMUSIC: Please tell me about your vision for the album.
LA: This record is a record about all that I wanted to feel – the catalogue of pain, catharsis, joy and a naive hope that after love has stung you, maybe there can be something pure waiting for you. I think it’s a very good picture of growing – the clumsy thing we inevitably will do in front of people and, in the meantime, cause a little damage. I am excited to be 80 and listen back to this with a softness for this window of myself that, somedays, feels hard to find in a real time.
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique? How has it developed since The Colder Months?
LA: Wow, hm. Since The Colder Months – I guess, I’ve been in expansion. But, there’s something about the timeframe when I wrote the colder months that was so child-like in a really charming way. I was writing every day, I didn’t have any concept about “what someone would think of my work”, nobody knew my work, my work was purely for self-work and self-care – an almost, self-guided therapy. So, there’s a purity there that I almost think I’ve returned to with Bad Vacation, in some ways. Returning to the beginners mind towards it all. The main difference is that I have a band around me – collectively and collaboratively growing these songs from the baby bloom of an idea into a whole garden of feeling. That part is very special. Trusting people enough to carry it all out. It’s a language we’re all growing with each collaboration.
FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?
LA: I think “Wuthering Heights” from Kate Bush is an easy “if-I-never-heard-this-I-would-be-different” song. It sort of shook off some dust I hadn’t even known had collected on my creative spirit. Reiterating that there are no rules. A song can be as strange and wonderful as you let it. I warm up my vocals to that song before shows. I love her so much.
FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?
LA: Phew. You know, I would hope that having a vagina wouldn’t keep me from opportunities or even end up being the reason I am given opportunities. I want to be asked into the room or to the party because I’m good at what I do – not because I’m a token that crosses off some quota – I hate that shit. I guess the worst part of anything is being sexualized for just existing. I hate that. It makes me feel so dirty and unsafe.
FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?
LA: I would really love to collaborate with David Byrne – I think we would be friends. Even just being friends would be nice. And, I guess that’s my dream tour as well. OH and Harry Styles