In March this year, Clash followed Lissie, the twenty seven-year-old Illinois songstress, to South By South West, where she played her most successful showcase to date. Her husky tone, unforgettable a capellas, pop-tinged riffs, and the occasional Metallica cover sent shivers down the spines of the not-usually-so-excitable music industry.
Since our shared Texan adventure, Lissie has been travelling non-stop around the UK and Europe, whilst also popping back to the US for pit-stops, all in aid of promoting her debut album ‘Catching A Tiger’ - whose review you can read later in this issue. While on the phone, being directed to her seat on yet another plane (this time to Scotland), Lissie explains: “It’s been pretty crazy, but you adjust. Downtime makes me anxious, I prefer to keep moving, keep busy.” She is tired and exhausted. You can tell in her voice that she is trying to break a smile but actually is not in the mood to talk at length.
“Interviewers always ask the same questions,” she says, sighing.
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On the album, songs like ‘Little Lovin’’ and ‘Oh Mississippi’ really define that true Lissie signature style. Both tracks have a pop and country sensibility but her stunning voice takes it to a level everyone will enjoy or at least admire. Her vocal range and quality can be compared to - and even rival - that of the legendary Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane, and the folk-style building of her songs makes you wanna break into a hoe-down at the drop of a note.
Lissie says her music has been well received and she feels her and her music have found a “vibe” here in the UK. “I look out the window and it doesn’t seem different - it looks familiar and normal to me now. London is like my home away from home, and I love playing here.”
She is also keen to test out some musical partnerships after singing with Ellie Goulding on a recent trip. “I can see that there is a scene in London; certain bands are hanging out and playing together, much like I was doing back in LA. It would be cool to get involved more in that scene. I have met with the guys from Mumford And Sons, who are cool, and it would be interesting working with them.”
After spending a day shooting with a lively Lissie, it’s clear she is a woman who knows what she wants and won’t be shaped into something she is not. She loved “dressing up in all those cool clothes”, and cites cigarettes and “pie” amongst her influences.
She refuses to shave her armpits and tries on vests to show this off. “They tried to make me wear a long-sleeved dress on Jools Holland, and I was like, ‘Uh, no no’.”
She goes on to tell stories about about drunk cowboys she use to date: “I used to do this for a guy who couldn’t do it for himself,” she admits as she pulls off a cowboy boot between changes. So, what has been the biggest high for Lissie so far?
“Getting my album together and being able to hold my album in my hands has been the biggest high. It had taken so many steps and people to make it happen, all the coincidences and serendipity, all the chances and changes that went into it.”
“I have been writing it all my life, and then recording it for the past year,” she beams, “it’s amazing to see it finally happen.”
Good things come to those who wait. Or, in this case, great things.
Words: Rose Forde
Photographer: Nicolas Bourbaki
Styling: Rose Forde
Assistants: Camilla Felici and Tom Baxendale
Clash Magazine Issue 52
Levi's The Craft Of Music