The chatter in Chatfield is that you can’t miss Lissie’s concert. She’ll be bringing her unapologetically rocking yet tender tunes to The Chatfield Center for the Arts on Saturday, Sept. 28.
With the success she’s garnered through songs like “When I’m Alone” from her 2010 “Catching A Tiger” record to her recently released “Castle” (2018) and “When I’m Alone: The Piano Retrospective” (2019) albums, she’s ready to let us sample from buffet of good music. She took a minute to talk about everything from independent recording to the current climate crisis with 507 readers.
What’s your earliest recollection of music playing a role in your life?
My mom would sing to me and my siblings to soothe us to sleep. “You Are My Sunshine,” “I See the Moon and the Moon Sees Me,” and I’d hum along. I found it very comforting.
Has growing up in the Midwest had any influence on your music?
I had a lot of freedom and outdoor play in open spaces as a kid. I had a lot of imagination time to make up songs and sing to myself. Maybe that’s not unique to the Midwest, but the landscape, neighborhoods and seasons impacted my creativity for sure. And now, there’s this nostalgia in being back that inspires me to name the feelings the best that I can.
One of your earliest breaks was touring as an opening act for Lenny Kravitz. What did you learn from that experience?
Going on the road for the first time, opening for Lenny Kravitz, really educated me in having fun playing music and connecting with audiences. But also it being lots of coordination, hustle and hard work. ... Previously, I think I had this image of it being a big party, but a lot of time was spent traveling, loading in, sound checking, finding some dinner, performing, then trying to get some sleep. Then waking up and doing it all again. It set me up for the decade of touring that was to come.
What was behind your decision to become an independent artist with your “My Wild West” release after you’d had success with two records signed to a major label?
I was on Columbia Records UK, a subsidiary of Sony for about seven years. After the release of my second album with them, I was dropped. Rather than trying to get another major label deal, I wanted to remain “independent.” When I started making “My Wild West,” I decided which songs I liked best and who I wanted to work with for co-writing songs, producing, and playing. I paid for it with my own money I’d made touring. I wanted to have more control and less compromise, determining when and how I wanted to proceed rather than being obligated to anyone or pressured otherwise. But I still have a team of wonderful people I work with and have partnered with “indie” labels for distribution & promotion, so I by no means do it all by myself.
Can you describe the process of writing and recording your 2018 “Castles” album?
I was writing through some heartache when I made “Castles,” learning a lot about myself and my patterns in relationships. It’s very much a record about letting go of someone. Most of it was produced by Liam Howe in London with me visiting between tours to add vocals. A handful of the tracks I was able to write and record in my Iowa home, though, which was really nice.
What was behind your decision to give a dollar from each concert ticket you sell to the Natural Resource Defense Council?
I believe that we are facing a serious climate crisis. I believe the scientists. I am alarmed at the intensified weather patterns, loss of species and carbon sinking forests and conserved lands. While I feel powerless at times, through my small efforts on my farm [located in Iowa] and by supporting the efforts of NRDC, I hope that we can still develop a new way of life that respects, protects, conserves and preserves our beautiful natural world, and its habitats and inhabitants.
What could your Minnesotan fans do to welcome you at the Chatfield Center for the Arts?
Come! My bandmates all live in the Twin Cities, so it’s super fun to be kind of meeting halfway between our respective homes. I expect it to be a jolly affair with lots of songs old and new, some rocking moments, some tender ones, and lots of stories.