Interview: Lisa Loeb

Lisa Loeb. Photo Credit: Kevin Westenburg

Photo Credit: Kevin Westenburg

This Sunday, Lisa Loeb returns to the Washington, DC, stage for a performance at The Hamilton.

We say return, of course, since Loeb has had several memorable concerts in the DC area over the past two decades, including sets at both the old and new 9:30 Club.

Loeb, who was born in nearby Bethesda, first gained fame with 1994’s number 1 hit, “Stay (I Missed You).” The song was featured on the soundtrack of the seminal film Reality Bites, and its accompanying one-take video, directed by Ethan Hawke, became a MTV staple.

Since then, Loeb has embarked on a successful recording career interspersed with book, film, television, and voice-over work. (And yes, that really was her on the series finale of Gossip Girl.)

We talked to Loeb about her latest album, No Fairy Tale, her collaborations, and her views on the ever-evolving music industry.

Q:  No Fairy Tale is your first album for adult listeners in what has been a very busy decade for you. How did these experiences inform the album?

A:  I wanted to make something that is more upbeat/punky and rock than what I’d done before. I think the style in which we recorded – quick, with a lot of energy, and led by [New Found Glory’s] Chad Gilbert, my co-producer – is different than what I’ve done in the past.  The energy, the stories of the 90s, the present, and the love lost and found is all in this record…I’m not sure how these experiences influenced my writing more than other experiences have influenced other albums, but I think the process was the culmination of making so many other records. I loved working more quickly, but I think it took many years of detailed and sometimes labored work in the studio to get to the point where I could do the same quality work in a shorter period of time.

Lisa Loeb in concert. Photo Credit: Lee Klawans

Lisa Loeb in concert. Photo Credit: Lee Klawans

Q:  Those familiar with your earlier work might be surprised to hear some of the edgier songs on No Fairy Tale. How has that translated into your live shows?

A: When I play with the band, we really play like the record.  Even when I play with just an acoustic guitar, the energy and specificity of the rhythm come out onstage in a little more punky/rock style than I’d normally play.

Q:  You’ve noted how difficult it was to be a female singer-songwriter, especially in the mid-90s when you first rose to fame.  Do you see these challenges still existing today?

A:  I think women have broken through a lot of those issues, but now as a woman, I’m more concerned with being a working mom who travels for my work.  It’s really hard to be separated from my family to do the work I love, but I’m trying to figure out the balance, always prioritizing my family over my music.

Lisa Loeb. Photo Credit:  Kevin Westenburg

Lisa Loeb. Photo Credit: Kevin Westenburg

Q:  Has the transformation of the music industry helped or hindered artists (in your view)?

A:  I think the industry has helped artists. People do not have as many expectations of the traditional avenues of success that have worked for just a few artists, so they’re willing to take more chances musically and get music out to people without having to deal with so much red tape constantly. People can make things without the help of major corporations, so that means more creativity out there and fewer limits.

Q: Over the course of your career, you’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with many artists, including, most recently, Tegan Quin from Tegan and Sara.  Which artists do you hope to collaborate with in the future?

A:  I loved working with Tegan in the studio and I look forward to working with a number of other writers in the future. I actually have a few different artist/songwriters lined up to write with, and you’ll hear all about it through my website when those songs are available.  I haven’t contacted David Bowie, Elton John, The Cure, Prince and others yet, but wouldn’t that be cool?



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