One listen to Lisa Mitchell’s melancholy questioning in Coin Laundry should give you a taste for more. Her voice is soft and gentle and her music probes at the edges of pop with a little-girl-lost ambiance. Recently Lisa performed at Glastonbury and says it was bizarre, a childhood dream come true.
“Another bizarre moment was, after we played Glastonbury we were at Canterbury playing the support for James Morrison. I was born in Canterbury but I’d never been back before. I was three years old when I left so I don’t really remember it at all. It was a beautiful sunny day, I was playing this song I had written to all these people, in Canterbury where I was born and I had a little moment – woah, we’ve come along way haven’t we.”
Lisa has come a long way in just the few short years since her first exposure on Australian Idol at the age of 16. Listening to her album I find it hard to imagine her performances on the show, which is based on cover performances. Lisa says that she ultimately had a “conflict of interests” with the show, because she is more interested in the music first and the performance second, but still retains fond memories of the times.
“I was what it was and it was just another thing that happened to me. It was where I began and when I first got exposure. It was my little star thing. Though there were many things that were really wrong about it, for me, and a lot of things I didn’t agree with, I met some people, like my management, who I still work with today, so it was quite invaluable. But I suppose there is that preconceived idea of what people who have been on a show like that are going to be, and what kind of music they’re going to create.”
Only 19, Lisa has just released her debut album, Wonder, having spent much of 2008 recording in the UK. It can be difficult, she says, being young in the music industry, as some people can be too helpful.
“You get a bit more of a novelty about you because you are young, but then there are also older people… some people they can’t help it, they’re always trying to look after you. They’re always advising you and trying to look out for you, it’s like a natural instinct. But it can be bad for you as well. You’ve got to kind of push them away a bit to be able to stand up on your own feet and stand as an equal. To be able to be yourself and feel like you’re in control of everything that’s happening you have to really stand up and be a bit like ‘hang on, that’s a good idea, let me think about it and come back and tell you whether I like it, rather than just assuming you’re correct.’”
Lisa’s album is a worthy first effort from a relative newcomer – she can certainly stand as an equal among the more popular singer/songwriters of today. With much variety in the production, yet an apparent emotional theme throughout, this album is definitely worth a look.
“The tracks are quite diverse. Love Letter is very simply recorded, just my voice and piano and some subtle elements of production. But then there’s a song like Pirouette which really builds, which is a more alive kind of sound, and a product of a group of people. It was just whatever suited the meaning of the song. Love Letter is sad so the music suited it, whereas Pirouette is a different feeling. I never make conscious decisions for it to sound like anything, from the beginning. I write the song and have ideas of how I want it to sound sonically, but it’s always a little evolution that happens in the studio, when we’re actually recording it. We just throw all these ideas into the melting pot and then prune it back from there. There are two processes. There’s writing and when the song is actually conceived, which is like a skeleton. So you have this skeleton and flesh and then you dress this naked body with production. It is a combination, two input processes…”
Check out her website for some of Lisa’s music. Her album is out now and tickets are now on sale for her national tour.