Lizzy Farrall – ‘I’m doing the music I’ve always wanted to do’

Words: Miljan Milekić

When we first heard of Lizzy, she was just about to drop her debut EP ‘All I Said Was Never Heard.’ We liked her music so much, that we immediately had her for an interview. Now, a year and a half later, she’s on her first European tour, promoting her new EP ‘Barbados.’ Not only that she has new songs, but she also changed her style significantly, embracing a lot more different influences. We were lucky, not only to catch her in Brussels but also to have her for a new interview, to talk about the new music, change in her sound, and a lot more. Check it below.

Welcome to Brussels! So, how’s this tour been going so far? Are all the guys taking care of you?
Lizzy: This tour has been amazing. We are on the third night of the run, and Paris last night was amazing. Paris was really good fun and tonight was really good. I think these are the best two shows so far.

If I’m not mistaken, this is your first time in some of the countries, including Belgium, right?
Lizzy: Yeah, it’s my first time ever in Belgium. In Europe pretty much, touring. We were supposed to tour with Seaway, but they joined Neck Deep in the US, so it got canceled sadly.

So you finally got here. How do you like it so far?
Lizzy: It’s lovely. We went around the city today, and we had some chips – the famous chips with onions and stuff on, that was really nice. And we went to see the statue of the baby and everything. Yeah, it was really good fun, it’s a beautiful city.

I really have no idea what people see in that statue. I mean, it’s so small!
Lizzy: (laughs) Yes! We walked up, and we were all like, “Oh, it’s small.” (laughs)

So, I didn’t really plan to ask you this, but since it’s your first time in Europe, and you love it here, I will. How do you look at this whole Brexit thing, and what do you think it could mean for small touring artists and bands?
Lizzy: We’ve been trying not to think about it. Obviously, as a musician, it’s gonna massively affect touring. So yeah, I’m not happy. That’s all. I’m not happy about the situation. And in all honesty, we don’t really know. All I know is that, if a musician wanted to go touring, it would have to involve a lot of visas, which will obviously cost a lot of money. And that would make touring more difficult, and more expensive than it already is. So yeah, it’s not the happiest of times. (laughs)

‘Barbados’ has been out for quite some time now, and it showed a different side of you and your music. What were the main influences and the motivation behind the shift in the sound and songwriting on the new music?
Lizzy: Um, God, when did we release ‘Barbados?’ It was while I was in the States ’cause, I was doing the album when it got released. I think it was March. So, acoustic music was basically at that time, the only way I was able to create the music I wanted to, on my own. All of that first EP is a lot of what I could do myself, without any help. And that’s what I did.

Even though I’ve always, always, been a fan of electronic music, and eighties, like Tears For Fears and The Crowded House, have been massive influences to me. And once that EP came out, I met more musicians, and it was just good networking, essentially. And I got to meet people who wanted to help me create the music I’ve always wanted to because sadly, I’m not the strongest musician in those terms. Um, I sing melodies, and if people can play them, that’s how it works. A lot of the studio time is me just go in – “Okay, can you play this?” And then they’ll play it for me. So it’s just finding the people who were willing to help my ideas come to life.

Last time we spoke, I remember you telling me that you actually been in a few bands before and that you were like kicked out of them. How does it feel now when basically, you’re the boss?
Lizzy: (laughs) It’s quite nice! Um, I think when I was in those bands, it was a different period in time as well. I think, for a female, the industry in the last, I would even say five years, has dramatically changed. So, it’s so nice to find people who want to help my ideas come to life, and I get on with so well. And yeah, I kinda get the overall say, which I’m not going to deny is nice! (laughs) But you know, the boys have a lot of say and stuff.

My guitarist Miles and me, we do some writing together. He also does a lot behind the scenes. And then my bassist James, we met for him tour-managing me, and he’s become my best friend, and we’ve lived together, and he plays such a crucial part. And then my drummer is Steve has just joined us on this run, and he’s just really filled the package that we needed.

Both ‘Barbados’ and ‘All I Said Was Never Heard’ are well received by the fans, but there is one thing I’m curious about that fact. Do you feel like you kept the same fans you had at the beginning, who are now joined by new ones, or you feel like some of the older fans got replaced by some new people?
Lizzy: It’s a slow progression, I would say. Um, they’ve stuck with me, though. I don’t think I’ve lost any with the change in genres. And I feel that I perform better now, in a sense, because I’m doing the music I’ve always wanted to do, and always visioned. Whereas, I love acoustic music, and that was a way for me to start out in my career. But now I’m finally doing what I want to do. And I think people get that more and connect more than they did when it was acoustic.​

At first, it was kind of unusual for me to see you on a Pure Noise in the first place, but I’d love to be in a room when you submitted the first few tracks from the new EP. What was their first reaction?
Lizzy: So obviously, it was ‘Makeup Sex,’ which I’d like to call the early transition. I remember submitting that, and they were like, “Okay, this is definitely more full band.” So I went and I did a session with Brett Romnes, who I’ve done the album with, he drums for I am The Avalanche and The Movielife. He’s done Free Throw; he’s done countless stunning records. It was kinda like, we did this song and a pitch to them, and they liked it.

And then my guitarist Miles, one day I wrote that beginning, ‘Barbados’ riff, I added some synth, and I just sent it to him. Like this, GarageBand file, and I was like, “Can you do something on this?” And he was like, “yeah,” and sent something back. then I sent something back… We didn’t even write that song in the same room. And then I sent it on to Pure Noise when it was at like, a pretty decent demo, and they were just like, “This is the best thing you’ve done so far. This sounds brilliant, let’s go with it.” And then Anthon DeLost from Canada came and recorded it. He came over to the UK, and we were in this tiny, tiny little studio in Reading in England. And we just like, just did it. I was like, “This is sick!” I remember this feeling like, “Okay, we’ve got it. This is the sound, this is what I wanted to write.” And Pure Noise were just like, “We love it.”

Were you afraid or felt any kind of pressure before releasing new music because of the change?
Lizzy: Definitely, yeah. There was a little bit of me that was like, “Hm, is this a good idea?” But I think I kinda just told myself, this is what I want to do, and I’m not going to be happy making music that isn’t what I’ve always imagined it to be. And I wouldn’t feel like I was being true to myself as an artist. So I just did that like – “Well, I’m gonna do this. And if you like it – you like it, you don’t – you don’t.” (laughs) You know, that’s kind of how I looked at it, and I think it’s worked in my favor.

How do you approach making setlists for your tours, and choosing songs for your shows? Were you ever trying to fit in some of the older stuff into the new set? Maybe turn them into the full-band versions, or mix up some of them that even were full-band songs?
Lizzy: Um, there was definitely the talk of it, and I love those songs on that EP so much, and I’ll always hold them close to me, but you got a certain limit on stage. And for me, I want to play the biggest songs that we’ve got, and the stuff that we can perform live and have an atmosphere too. And for those ones on the first EP compared to ‘Barbados,’ I just didn’t feel you could compare them sound-wise, in that sort of stage presence. It was more for the performance side. So, I was just like, “No, let’s just do the whole new EP, and let’s start over.”

Lizzy Farrall @ Ancienne Belgique, Brussels / Photo: Tamara Samardžić

You played one new song today. As a musician, how does it feel when you’re going on tour, and you have something that’s recently out or, like tonight, when you pretty much tested the new song with the crowd? Do you have any second thoughts like, “Will this work, will this not work? Should I do this or should I stick with what people know?”
Lizzy: Definitely. So from our set, we have taken away ‘Makeup Sex’ and replaced it with the new song. And there was a lot of talk of replacing ‘Help’ and putting ‘Makeup Sex’ in because ‘Makeup Sex’ is probably got one of the most streams on Spotify. But again, it was a lot of the boys as well. Like, Miles loves the guitar solo in ‘Help.’ And you know, that song is very important to me at the moment, and I didn’t really want to scrap it, but we felt that ‘Makeup Sex’ sort of put a dip in the set and energy level. And I want to play this new song. This new song is high-energy. We’re playing the countries we’ve never even been to before. We want attention. We want to draw the crowd in. And I feel like that song does, ’cause it’s heavy. It’s heavy towards the end, and you can see people go like, “Oh, this is different.”​

I like how you’re able to tour with all those different bands, and still, make a good fit on the bill. What was the weirdest tour you’re been on so far?
Lizzy: Definitely! (laughs) I think it’s just been the Aaron West one. I did a tour with Aaron West and The Roaring Twenties. And it wouldn’t have been weird if I was still on my first EP, but because we’d released this new EP, and I didn’t want to go back, I didn’t want to reverse it just for this one tour to fit, and I don’t think Aaron even would’ve wanted me to do that… So, that was a funny lineup ’cause we had Anna’s Anchor, who’s just him and an acoustic guitar. Then we came on, the full-band, all in white. (laughs)

And then, obviously, Aaron would come on, just, him and an acoustic guitar, he didn’t have his full band. So that was definitely a funny lineup. I think the crowd has been like – “Okay, this is loud.” (laughs) But also, I think it worked in our favor because it made us stand out. And I think, you know, people were like, “Oh, do you remember that full band? That was weird.” But in a good way. And all those shows sold out. It was really an amazing tour, but I think that’s probably the funniest lineup I’ve done so far.

You mentioned that you have a new album in the making and I read somewhere that it will be called ‘Bruise.’ Can you tell us more about it?
Lizzy: Yes. That’s the whole theme behind the album. There’s a big, sort of back story to it, which will be coming out with the album, and it gives more of an insight on my visions behind my music and stuff. But the way to describe the album is, like a playlist. You could pin down genres, but almost like you couldn’t. It’s sort of in and out of all these different vibes. My idea behind it was that I wanted every song on the album to sound like a single. Bar one, which is an interlude. I wanted them all to sound like singles, to have their own unique story and sound. I just wanted a playlist.

I feel like people don’t really listen to albums anymore, unless you’re some big established artist, and you’ve got that cult following that will listen to every single song. But I think as this generation, we have gotten no attention. The attention span is so short nowadays. I even found myself struggling to listen to a whole album. I want to listen to a playlist of all different genres. And that was kind of the vibe that I wanted for the album. We recorded it in the States with Brett. I spent three weeks in his studio; we didn’t leave! (laughs) But I did some really cool writing sessions with different people ’cause I was a solo artist. I like having those opinions and working with someone who’s going to challenge me and help me progress as an artist. And I think we’ve achieved it.

I actually noticed that this is something I only see with British artists, and not so much with the artists from other places. That kind of genre diversity on the same record. I see it with bands like Sonic Boom Six, The King Blues, and so many others, but it’s almost always the UK bands. Do you have any idea what could be the reason?
Lizzy: I honestly have no idea, but I know exactly what you mean. But I don’t, I can’t even explain it. For me, it’s just that I’ve got ADHD, so my attention span isn’t great. So for me, it was like trying to keep me interested also, in what I was making. But no, I don’t know. But I agree with what you’re saying completely. Yeah.

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