Good day people of Earbuddy; my name is Adam and today I will be treating you to something a little different. I am the editor of a new music site from the UK called Alphabet Bands and, having known and worked with Nick and a number of the guys here for some time, we decided to do a little blog swap. So you get an interview I did with an angel-voiced folk singer from the UK while Chris Bell has taken his a list obligatory over to Alphabet Bands for the day. I hope you like it, feel free to swing by the site and say hey if you do.
As well as being extremely talented, Lisa Redford is extremely well travelled having spent time journeying and working around the east coast of America. We spoke to Lisa a while back about how important the use of social media is to musicians but especially to her as an independent artist seeking to make a name for herself. She has done that to a degree in her native England, with legendary DJ ‘Whispering’ Bob Harris calling her “one of our finest singer/songwriters”, but having fallen in love with the states, she is keen to head back and work there once more.
In our past meetings with Lisa, she has always struck us as a gregarious character, bubbly and full of life. Talk to her about almost any subject and you will be treated to an animated and interesting conversation but ask her about America, and her excited enthusiasm is evident. Even for one so animated the difference is palpable, her energy increased as does the speed at which she talks.
It was during a couple of holidays there that Lisa’s love affair with America began to blossom and, having met some really great people, she decided to move over for a while and work. As the old saying goes, a change is as good as a rest and so it was for Lisa, ” it was like a breath of fresh air almost” she told us when we met up over drinks. ”It’s very music orientated, especially New York, [where] there’s a bit of everything”. She soon found herself inspired and was soon hard at it with the album, Clouds With Silver the result.
It didn’t stop there though and on another visit to New York, she wrote and recorded her latest EP, Reminders. As well as making her relatively prolific, she found that America had an effect on the kind of songs she was writing, “Summer on the L” for example, she tell us, is ”more of an observer type song than my normal [songs]. A lot of them are personal relationships, these songs are more… they’re still personal, but they are more about observing life”. Watching the world go by is obviously quite addictive for Lisa as she is quick to talk about how keen she is to return, ”I hope to maybe do another EP out there, or another album. It is inspiring.”
As she talks it is clear that one of the reasons she feels so at home in New York is that is a city that can keep up with her boundless energy. It is, after all, the city that never sleeps and as much as London wishes she could be as chic, even she must close her eyes from time to time. Not so New York and as the major city on the east coast, you just know that any and all passing bands are going to be playing there at some point. It was this non-stop access to artists and gigs as well as the variety of music that was on offer that she enjoyed so much. The accessibility too, being able to just walk everywhere and see multiple bands in one evening, was something she loved. ”[In] Williamsburg everything is really together so you can see actually more than one band in a night, you know? You can see as much as possible and for anyone who is creative or into music, it’s like a dream really”.
Having travelled to New York on a couple of occasions ourselves, we can relate entirely to its draw but as captivating a city as it is, Lisa was keen to get out and travel, to see more of the country. ”I did little trips just on the east coast, to Boston, New Hampshire and I played in California. I did a couple of small gigs there and I loved it”. She admits that the climate had something to do with loving California but it’s expanse didn’t go down so well. Given her hunger for music and love of seeing multiple acts in an evening, having to drive everywhere was an unpleasant use of time. Another vast area of America that she has visited but not yet played at is the Mid-West. Given the influence that country, folk and Americana have each had on her own music, it is perplexing that she is yet to give it a shot. From our admittedly limited knowledge of the musical taste of the area, we were surprised to learn it had been a vacation spot only for Lisa; surely her music would be very well received there? We are not the only ones, ” People have said “you’d go down a storm out there”, she says, but for the first time in our conversation she seems momentarily hesitant, unsure almost. “Maybe in the future”, she ventures.
As we move the conversation to the region in general that passing timidity is gone in a flash. Her eyes are shining brightly once more and again it is the depth of music on offer that has her giddy with excitement. She name checks Austin as a place she would love to visit, as well as the festivals at SXSW, Bonnaroo and Austin City Limits. Not to perform necessarily, but just to soak up the atmosphere, ”just to go and meet other musicians and see people, that would be a dream”.
It is, we feel, notable that despite her enthusiasm, so far much of her American adventure has been as a tourist rather than as an artist. As a fairly prolific songwriter, are the rigours of touring life too much of a hindrance to the creative process we wonder, or perhaps, as Lisa alludes, it is more of a technology and money issue. ”I’m lucky in the sense that I am just on my own and I can just write when I feel inspired”. But being on her own means there is a need for self-production, something she needs to know more about. ”I want to learn more about how to record myself really”, she admits. ”I have been using my computer, because that’s a nicer freedom in a way. I love going into the studio and things like that but you have to think of your budget”.
Ahh yes, money, so often the bane of many independent artists existence and often the vital, but missing, ingredient for success. Budgetary restraints can often generate difficult decisions, do you spend more on better production so your music sounds as good as it can, or do you go for a cheaper option and use the difference for promotion so more people will actually hear it? Money, or the lack thereof, can often break an artist’s spirit but for Lisa, it seems to have stimulated a change in her musical enjoyment. As she learns more about producing, an unexpected change has come about ”I used to prefer gigs more than recording but now it’s the other way round. I much prefer the creative process of layering a song and mixing it”.
Remixing is also something that interests her. She hasn’t done any as yet but is open to anyone playing around with her own songs. She has even posted the vocal stems for a number of her tracks online for people to download and have fun with. A few dance remixes have made it up to her soundcloud page and she says she gets many more. It is a genre of music she is a fan of, ”I don’t just like acoustic”, she laughs. ”One of the things I did when I started was electronic stuff. And sometimes you have songs that wouldn’t really work as an Americana type song. It keeps your mind fresh on other things too, because sometimes you need a new energy”.
Could there be a club persona in the future for her then? She won’t be drawn on detail but Lisa does let slip that she has recently recorded vocals for a European label to use on a dance track so who knows?
Whatever the future holds, it is clear that America will play a big part. Having influenced her so much already it is understandable that she is keen to get back and soak up the atmosphere and the energy as soon as she can. It only remains to be seen if she will return as the beautiful folk songstress that has won the heart of so many already, or as a full on disco diva. Only time will tell, but we have no doubt that she will be successful either way.
Be sure to visit our pals at Alphabet Bands.