Q&A with Lisa Richards

Interview of Lisa Richards by Rose Sejean

Hi Lisa! Thanks so much for chatting with us, how’s your day going so far?

Hi Rose! Thanks for having me Well, I’m in Adelaide currently. I had a show yesterday and today I’m chilling out with m husband and his dad. We’re having a bit of a lazy day before flying home to Canberra tomorrow.

‘A Light From The Other Side’ is your sixth studio album, can you describe it in three words:

Three words? …Tricky. Hmm… bright, distant, southern.

You’ve spoken openly about your battle with substance abuse from an early age, how did music “save you”?

My desire to make music led me to getting clean. As a young person, I had no hopes, goal or aspirations except to get as high as I could and stay that way. I then began to have a tiny germ of an idea, a dream, that maybe I could sing. This idea kept growing and with it, a companion voice said something like, “you will never be able to do anything as long as you’re using drugs”. Music also gave me a place to funnel all of the intensity of emotion and confusion that I was trying to obliterate with drugs and alcohol.

You recently described the album’s producer, Greg J. Walker (Paul Kelly, C.W Stoneking), as “the master of the broken down orchestra”, can you explain that for us?

Greg has a studio full of instruments. They aren’t shiny, new instruments, they are more like rescued instruments that he puts to excellent use and coaxes beautiful sounds out of. He has a beaten up three string 3/4 size student cello, an old piano named Gladys that refuses to be completely in tune, a tiny Chinese toy piano…you get the idea.

How did your latest single ‘Frank Sinatra’ go from being an outtake from your last album to being the first single from your new album?

The quality of the song was never in doubt. I had to find a place where it belonged and there just wasn’t a place for it on the last album.

I have to say, you write damn good folk music. Who do you turn to for musical inspiration?

Thanks Rose. This may sound strange, but I get musical inspiration from books, films and conversations. I listen to music that is, to me, the highest height of amazingness. Artists I don’t sound like, but would in my dreams: Nina Simone, Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Cesaria Evora. I also give myself crazy challenges, like I just finished a ‘thirty songs in thirty days’ challenge where I wrote a song a day in an hour or less.

Your writing style is comfortingly self-assured, what is different about your approach to songwriting nowadays in comparison to writing in your twenties?

I think the main difference is that I don’t pay so much attention to what I personally think of the songs I write, or what I sound like. I didn’t really start writing songs until I was twenty-six or twenty-seven and I first picked up the guitar at thirty… so I was somewhat of a late starter. So, all you eighteen year-olds out there who think you’re too old to learn an instrument, or sing, or write, or do anything creative, it’s a lie 🙂

Which musicians make you want to dance?

Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye and old school funk and hip hop.

I heard you got to hang out with Debbie Harry (Blondie) at SXSW! What was that like?

I was a little star struck, that’s for sure. I mostly just listened and tried to think of half way clever things to say. Her manager, Kirk (who was also a big fan of mine), played ‘Leatherface’ in one of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre films. We hung out all afternoon, they were telling stories and I was just soaking it up.

What advice would you give your fifteen year-old self?

I would tell myself that life will get better and that growing up is the best thing that can happen.

And finally, what advice would you give to young people struggling with addiction?

When I was very young, I didn’t see drugs and alcohol as being the problem, I thought they were the answers. I think once you get to the ‘struggling with addiction’ stage, you start hoping that maybe there is another way to live, a better way. Back then, I didn’t know there was help out there. I didn’t know there was counselling, rehab, Twelve Step programs and people who had lived through the same kind of things I had. I’ve struggled with eating disorders, been sexually abused, suffered from depression, self-loathing and total despair. I am here to tell you that whatever you are struggling with, you can recover. There is help out there. Instead of being on a mission to get obliterated, be on a mission to heal yourself. You can have a good life, be happy and find joy. That’s my message.

Follow Lisa on Facebook, Twitter and her official site and check out ‘A Light From The Other Side’ on iTunes and Soundcloud.

UPCOMING 2017 TOUR DATES

Friday February 10 | Smiths Alternative | Canberra, ACT

Saturday February 18 | Gasoline Pony | Sydney, NSW

Thursday February 23 | Paris Cat | Melbourne, VIC

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Rose Sejean

Rose Sejean is one of the music editors at Ramona, her background spans both performance and [music] business. She currently works at a pretty cool record label in Sydney, Australia and can otherwise be found sipping tea, illustrating, or watching nerdy documentaries. Rose wishes there was a platform like Ramona around when she was a teen and is so proud to be a part of this awesome community of Ramona Babes.

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