Elizebeth | Image: Nick Mckk

Elizabeth: “I Used to Blow Things Up Just to Have Something to Write About”

Elizabeth released her debut solo album, the wonderful world of nature, in November 2019, a collection of heartbroken indie pop that drilled down on the difficult process of breaking up and moving on. A little over a year after its release, Elizabeth left Melbourne for Brisbane, where she remains to this day.

The artist’s latest release is a three-part suite of singles, accompanied by a thematically linked suite of music videos. The songs, ‘Happier Now’, ‘Sweet Connection’ and ‘If You Died’, were created with producers Konstantin Kersting, Alice Ivy and Oscar Dawson, respectively. For the videos, Elizabeth reconnected with director Nick McKinlay, who helmed the video for ‘parties’ from the wonderful world of nature.

Elizabeth – ‘Happier Now’

The complete video suite will have its public premiere at Elizabeth’s upcoming mini-festival, An Evening With Elizabeth, which takes place at Melbourne’s Thornbury Theatre on Saturday, 29th October. Ahead of the show, Music Feeds chats to Elizabeth about writing the singles and working with McKinlay.

Music Feeds: Why did you decide to do a suite of singles?

Elizabeth: The singles were all songs that I wrote and made over the COVID lockdowns. I love making albums, but I didn’t really feel like I had the sparkly energy that I needed to muster to make an album. But I also really wanted to make something that felt whole and felt like it could say something as a piece that fit all together – I imagined the songs as being three pieces of the same puzzle that would all slot together to move as one.

MF: How central was the video component to the process?

Elizabeth: I really love thinking about a visual element of music, probably as much as making the music part of the music. So we started thinking about ways that the songs could visually fit together and then I realised that the songs thematically move quite well together.

So, ‘Happier Now’ is kind of like the starting point. I guess if you think about [the suite of singles] in the context of the last album, they’re kind of like that in-between phase when you’re not devastated anymore by a break-up but you’re like, “OK, well, what now?”

‘If You Died’, the third song in the suite, it’s like the endpoint, where you’re moving forward and you’re thinking about the people that you left behind.

MF: Does ‘If You Died’ represent a feeling of resolution?

Elizabeth: Yeah, I think so. It’s like that idea that every time you make a choice, you close down other options – the idea that any time you take a step forward, you can’t go in the other direction at that point.

I have a past habit, and I’m really trying to not do this anymore, but there’s a lot of people in my life that I just don’t speak to at all now. And I think sometimes that’s necessary, and sometimes it’s because conflict is hard.

And so ‘If You Died’ speaks to that feeling of knowing that you’ve made a choice that was right for you to not have someone in your life, romantic or platonic, but also just that feeling of wondering how they’re going and knowing that you probably just won’t have closure.

Elizabeth – ‘Sweet Connection’

MF: When you were writing these songs – and writing your album too – had you already arrived at the feelings and conclusions that are depicted in the songs? Or does writing play an active role in helping you process things? 

Elizabeth: It kind of depends on the situation. If something’s super fresh then it doesn’t come out in writing because it’s too hard. But then sometimes it’s like a processing, diary-writing kind of thing. I think where I’m at now with writing, I try to be more reflective than immediate. But my songwriting has always been very much like a catharsis or an emotional word vomit.

MF: Are you capable of writing music that you’re satisfied with when you’re feeling really intense emotions? 

Elizabeth: Yeah, I actually think that’s my most creative way to be, which is a bit of a trap that I would really love to not feel. But I’m trying to now write from a space that doesn’t have to be as devastated or traumatised and find power in that. But I find that my strongest emotion to write from is sadness or grief.

I really don’t want to have a bad life that I don’t enjoy just so I can write songs, and I definitely used to blow things up in order to have something to write about. And I really don’t do that anymore, which I think is growth.

MF: Tell me a bit about your creative partnership with Nick McKinlay making these videos.

Elizabeth: I love Nick and we worked together on the ‘parties’ video for the first album. He really cares about telling a story, which is very much where I sit in terms of making videos. I really love watching movies and I love musicals and Nick really loves musicals as well. The drive down to shooting the ‘Happier Now’ video, we were pumping the Phantom of the Opera soundtrack, which was pretty nice.

Nick is just a wonderful person and he really got on board with making these three videos. We made them all in three days, which was crazy in retrospect. I love working with him because he’s got so many clear ideas and references, but he’s also really collaborative. And I do like having quite a lot of control but I also like to feel held when I’m collaborating with someone.

Elizabeth – ‘If You Died’

Further Reading

Elizabeth Releases ‘If You Died’, Produced By Holy Holy’s Oscar Dawson

Elizabeth Releases Alice Ivy Collaboration, ‘Sweet Connection’

The Best Innovators at BIGSOUND 2022

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