Rejection isn’t easy to take – especially when you’re a scarcely out of your teens, finding your way in the music industry. After being dropped by her label ahead of the release of the debut album ‘Bedroom Hero’, Liz Lawrence has had the time and space to find herself.
Her second album ‘Pity Party’ embraces her lo-fi folk past but also brings it into the here and now with satisfying pop elements. It’s also a bit of a ‘fuck you’ to those who said she wasn’t good enough. Here she tells us about how rejection eventually enabled her to blossom and why this moment feels so significant.
You must be thrilled with the album and being at this point after your journey so far?
“I’m massively excited – you always get to this point where you’ve looked at it for a long time and now people get to hear the record in its entirety. I’m quite old fashioned, streaming and stuff is great but I do like the idea that someone is going to get the full picture, that’s really cool. I’ve never seen one of my releases in a record shop before so I’m really excited to go down to a shop and find one. You’ve got to right? You’ve got to go and hunt out your record.”
How did being dropped by a major label influence this record?
“I think it was the most vital thing that ever happened. I think there is a lot of stigma around that, people don’t like to talk about being dropped but I think I’ve left three labels now in various ways, it’s all part of the course. I had just turned twenty when EMI broke down and I got dropped, you think it’s the end of the world but then when you realise it isn’t it makes you very resilient and brave.
You realise that you don’t really need the systems in place and then suddenly you can do what you like. In that respect, it really lit a fire in my belly to just keep doing what I want to do with or without the help of the main route. I think it’s important that people don’t feel like you only get one chance of doing music, I think that’s a myth that holds people back. I’d like to think I can become a living example of why that isn’t true.
‘USP’ was massively about that. I have various images of when I was younger and first getting picked up by management. No matter how brave and confident you think you are, you’re massively vulnerable in that position. If you don’t know what a production deal is and suddenly you’re being asked to sign one, even if you’ve got a lawyer there, it’s all in that world and I had nobody inside of that world to give me guidance. That song is trying to retrospectively connect with that younger person in me. You’ve got to stand your ground a bit and trust your instincts because they’re going to be right.”
This record is very much all about honesty, tell us a little bit about the concept of ‘Pity Party’?
“Obviously it’s a phrase that I’ve heard people use. I was in a particularly self-indulgent move and someone said, ‘I’m a bit bored I’m going to leave your pity party’. I thought that was perfect because it sums up that tension and pull between serious aggravation and obstacles in your life and also how you approach them and how much you indulge your feelings towards it. Also, it’s just funny, I was quite keen to be a little bit humorous with this record. It has some weighty issues but I hoped to approach it with at least a bit of warmth and humour.”
So it’s about a tangle of your own emotions?
“Yeah, I think the central track where that really came together for me was ‘None Of My Friends’. It was based on a single day where I had like five phone conversations with friends. It was like, fuck, everyone is having these big domestic dramas, but at the same time they weren’t serious enough to merit the attention. They feel majorly serious but they were light dramas that passed. I was like, how do we approach this and how do we start to untangle where we’re at? At the time we were in our mid-twenties which is quite an interesting time where things start to change, you can’t let things go so easily then. So that was the pivotal moment.”
Do you hope for the melodrama of ‘Pity Party’ to be a bit of escapism in the world today?
“It would be great for it to be seen this way. I don’t think it’s overtly political but I do think it’s very personal. We’re in this age where we have this idea of being part of a bigger identity politics as well as a real movement of self-evolutionary politics. I think that’s what the records talking about more, that line of ‘who am I and where am I going?’, it’s more of a small self-evaluation than anything based on broader political or social constructs. I’m interested in how we’ve become very obsessed and focussed with identity and who we are.”
The record isn’t afraid to embrace those pop elements – did you want that from the album?
“I quite like satisfying production, I don’t really like to be too clever and I’m not obsessed with making non-obvious decisions. If something is good, immediate or takes you somewhere really quickly then I’m really up for that. Again the track ‘USP’ really achieves that in terms of production. I love hiphop and pop music but I also love guitar music and I felt like somehow I was getting somewhere with melding that groove. I like the clash of different energies, I’d like to bring more flavours in for the next record like dance music and stuff.