- Words Stevie Carter
With darkly glamorous pop-led soundscapes, singer-songwriter Liza Owen has certainly proven that she is an artist to keep an eye on, as she shares her latest anthem “Starry Eyed”.
Liza Owen’s latest track, “Starry Eyed”, comes as the follow-on from a series of dynamic and captivating singles that she released last year. Serving us unfiltered lyrics and relatable narratives, Liza’s music is a vibrant burst of candour, anthemic pop beats and dazzling vocals.
The latest single from the talented artist, and the newest edition to her growing sonic collection, “Starry Eyed” is an honest and unflinching track that delves into the seemingly glamorous world of living the dream, and how it isn’t always as perfect as it seems. With soaring choruses and gloriously sparkly pop hooks, “Starry Eyed” marks the start of a year of exciting new releases and music from the talented artist.
Liza has been releasing music since 2016, making a name for herself with the popular early single “Don’t Call Me Baby” and sharing a steady stream of singles over the years. Hailing from Surrey via London, Liza upped sticks to California, where her heart found a home in Malibu. Since then, she’s been collaborating with the prolific songwriter, Ali Tamposi, telling Notion that she’s “really found my people out here”, learning above all else to trust her gut and be present everyday.
Notion caught up with Liza to chat about all things music, life in Cali, and what we can expect from her next.
It’s great to sit down and chat. How are you? How have you been during these very weird times?
Um… that is a loaded question! I’ve been good. I feel like in the grand scheme of things I’m healthy, I’ve got a roof over my head; you know I’m good, I cannot complain. But mentally, have I lost my mind a few times… yes! It’s been a journey. I think like creatively last year was tough for me just right at the beginning to feel inspired and everything got turned upside down. So I was just like ‘what the hell do I do with myself’, pretty much like everybody else, and it’s been a learning curve just figuring out how to do the most with the least. I think I’ve just learnt how resilient I can be, how resilient we all are, and I have just headed into this year with an open mind and a positive mind and like I said just trying to do the most with the least.
You’re over in LA at the moment aren’t you? How has that been?
I mean, I love it out here, it’s pretty great. I’m stuck here right now because of all the travel bans and stuff but there are much worse places to be stuck so I can’t complain.
So going from Surrey and London to now living in LA, what kind of impact and influence would you say all those different places, particularly LA – a very big music a cultural hub – has had on your career and artistry so far?
I’m a very big dreamer, always have been and always was. I was raised with the attitude of ‘there’s nothing you can’t do’ and I think I obviously got that from my mum, but I think I got it growing up just in a tiny town where there really wasn’t much to do, or a lot of opportunity, so you kind of had to dream big. That’s all I did and I was just waiting to get out. Then I moved to London, and London for sure taught me about hustle. It was my first experience really in the music industry. I’d always just been writing songs by myself at home and it was just the first time I started to collaborate, meet producers and songwriters and other artists and going to shows, discovering new sounds and genres and everyone in London was so free and expressive. So I think that just really eye opening for me. And then LA has been a trip to say the least. I feel like LA was the first time in my life that I’ve really been on my own completely. No one’s a drive away and I was completely out there on my own and that’s just been a wild journey. I partied a ton, I’ve f*cked up a lot, met so many new people and I just experienced so much, that those stories can’t help but filter down into my music. I’ve really found my people out here and I’m learning so much about myself in LA and I’m finding myself and I think that’s a beautiful thing when everything else has been such a whirlwind.
What would say is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt so far being out in LA and having that experience of being on your own, and having the space to make your mistakes and to learn and grow?
I think the biggest lesson is just to follow your gut and listen, like today’s mistakes are tomorrows lessons. I think there’s this thing, we all do this, that everything is so precious. It’s like if we didn’t write an amazing song today, or the meeting didn’t go the way you wanted it to, or something fell through; whatever it is, we tend to hold onto that sh*t and harbour it and everything feels so final… and it’s just not. The next day something amazing happens and you’re like ‘oh okay, it’s fine’, its just a roller-coaster. So I’m just learning to take it easy, everything going to be okay. Go with the flow.
Especially with everything going on at the moment, that’s definitely a super important lesson for us all to remember these days – just to try and go with the flow a bit more and embrace whatever happens, happening.
Yeah, embrace the moment more. We’re always looking to the next thing and I think if anything this last year has taught me is that life move really fast and is really precious. So just try and be more present, in the moment and enjoy what’s happening.
For sure. And so, since moving out to the US, you mentioned how you’ve learnt a lot and met your people. And one of those people is an incredible songwriter Ali Tamposi!
Yeah, she’s superhuman, she’s incredible.
What was that experience like to work and learn from her?
I mean, it’s been incredible to have somebody like that, who’s got that experience, to take you under their wing is an amazing thing. I think we should all have mentors. With Ali, we just clicked instantly. We were set up to write on my first trip out to LA and every other session got cancelled that week; this famously happens in LA, it’s cancellation central. So every session more or less got cancelled that week except the ones with Ali and I was really bummed, I was like ‘what the hell, I’m only here for like ten days’, and thank God because none of that even mattered because it was just incredible. We clicked creatively and on a personal level and just from there it started this beautiful relationship. I signed my publishing deal with her and reservoir. So she’s my publisher, my co-writer, my friend, I’ve just learnt everything from her about song writing, I really feel like she helped me to hone in on that craft. Before, I was always just writing for myself, I didn’t even think about pitching my songs to other artists. She really opened up my mind and she’s an incredible lyricist and has an incredible way with words, and I think just getting to be around her and witness what she does I’m just better for that. Lyrically, I feel I’ve learnt so much from her. I could talk about Ali for days.
Talking about lyrics, and honing that side of your craft; looking at your recent release ‘Starry Eyed’, the intro lyrics to that “Wasted, 3AM/ Shoes in my hand” gives off a imagery that’s really relatable of after a night out, coming home and that hazy atmosphere. And that’s definitely reflected in the vibe and energy of the song. Were you wanting to say anything in particular with that really poignant and powerful intro?
I mean, yeah! Ali and I wrote this song together with my executive producer Paul Famous and a producer Julian Bunetta and we’re all really really good friends so we were just having a very open and honest conversation about the industry, and we were talking about stars who sort of have lost their minds and sad things have happened and it’s a really really tough industry to be in when you look at people at the top level. Even last night I was watching the Britney documentary and I was like ‘damn, this is it’. Ali was just like “it’s crazy you want to be an artist” after discussing these terrible things that can happen with celebrity. But why do we still want to be like them even though all this f*cked up stuff happens? And so that was the kind of conversation that was happening even before we started writing the song. And it was just almost funny that you’re in a place like Hollywood that people think is so glamorous and it’s just so not that. Don’t get me wrong, it’s amazing, I have had the best time; but you can get caught up on this wild ride, and I definitely have had my fair share of nights out wasted, walking home and you know right at the beginning no money in the bank and you’re walking down the sunset strip looking up at these billboards with faces of icons that you idolize and it just presents a really ironic image. We just wanted to open the song with a really poignant picture.
It’s definitely so powerful, and I think social media in recent years has fed into that idolization of that life that so many aspire to. And it’s that dream of that life being something amazing when the experience isn’t always quite what it seems.
I think it’s never quite what it seems. After spending a few years out here, there’s always cracks under the surface or a struggle that I think a lot of people have struggled to get where they are but you just don’t see that; it’s not something that’s pictured in the media.
And how have you found that’s impacted you and your experience as an artist and musician; having those ideas yourself prior to going to LA and Hollywood, or with people beginning to look up to you and your life now?
Firstly, my EP will be out this summer and its completely autobiographical, and it talks about my stories and touches on this subject quite specifically and I just think that’s going to be part of my journey. After being out here for a little bit, I’m still close with my best friends from home but you lose touch with people. I’ve had people hit me up and be like ‘oh are you too big time for me now’ or whatever and you have no clue. They just see someone from a small town who got out and has moved to LA and they have this glamorous image of what they think your life is and it’s just not that in the beginning. Its almost like all your favourite Disney movies when you were a kid, the old ones not in HD; if you rewatch any of those now it’s just not the same, you’re looking at it through different eyes and it’s lost its shine. I feel like that’s almost what coming to LA was like. And it’s not a negative thing at all, it’s just part of growing up. Honestly that’s almost what ‘Starry Eyed’ is all about, you’ve seen between the cracks, you’ve seen the dark side of this sh*t and what can happen and it’s like f*ck it I’m going to do it anyway because of how fun it is.
For sure. And you totally get that real honesty and vulnerability coming through in your song writing, which we get as well in ‘Starry Eyed’. How does it feel to be really honest, candid and autobiographical in your music? Is that a cathartic process for you?
Yeah, that’s my therapy. Writing songs is my therapy. It’s the only way I know how to write, and when I’m writing for myself, I have to connect to the song. It has to be me and my story otherwise it just doesn’t feel right and I wouldn’t want to put something out that wasn’t directly something I’ve experienced because otherwise how can you relate to the audience, your fans and people listening to your music? I think sometimes people mistake vulnerability for weakness but it’s not, and I have found it very empowering to be very open in my lyrics. And sometimes it gets you in trouble cause people hear those songs and they’re like ‘is that about me?’. But my next single which is coming out is really, really, really autobiographical. And I feel like the lyrics flow out of you and they come very easy at that point. Most of the time I feel like you find the lyrics, and the story gets written in the conversation about what you’re going through and what you’re feeling when you first get to the studio and you’re just talking to your friends and the song is in there.
Drawing on those very real, autobiographical moments; do you find that there’s anything that triggers those thought processes and inspires you to write about certain moments or events, or does narrative just emerge and write itself from those conversations?
For me, its usually directly related to something that’s happened. And it could be a huge moment like a break up, or it could be as seemingly insignificant as a conversation that sat with me weird. But usually somethings happened and I’ve come into the studio fired up, pissed off or sad or happy, whatever it is. The song that I write that days is a direct reflection of the mood I’m in or what I’m going through and I just try and get it down as soon as possible on a page, in a song.
As well as the writing and inspiration behind the track, how do you tend to work with the melody and the instrumentation? For instance, what was the creative process for ‘Starry Eyed’ and the melody on that; I mean that has an incredible beat that runs throughout!
Thank you! That was Julian, he’s a beast. With that one I think we just started on guitar, Julian picked up the guitar and we knew we wanted the song to feel a certain way. It’s almost got this 90s rock feeling to it and reminded me of a lot of old bands I used to love. We knew we wanted it to feel a certain way and he started messing around, and you just start with melodies usually. We had the topic, we didn’t have any lyrics or a title but we just had this powerful conversation of what the song was going to end up being about and we just started with melodies and the chorus came first. I think the first lyric was ‘all my heroes have lost their minds’ and kind of went from there. You carve out the melody and once that starts feeling really good you start fitting lyrics to it. And for this chorus specifically, we wanted every single line to be as powerful as that opening line and almost could be read out as a poem.
It’s such a stunning track! And you already mentioned you have some exciting new music in the works for year; what can we expect next from you this 2021? You’ve also released an amazing series of singles so far, and haven’t as of yet had any collabs, features, or extended projects; it this also something we can expect from you soon?
Maybe…. Yes! I’m not going to say who but you’ll be seeing some collaborations this year that I’m really excited about, and I’m going to be releasing my debut EP this year which I am so so so excited about. I am in love with this body of work, I’m really proud of it. It’s my journey 100% and I cannot wait to release that and to be able to tell you the name of the EP soon. The next single from the EP is coming out next month so… you guys are not ready, that’s all I’m saying. It’s my favourite song on the EP, I’m so so so excited for this next song. Its actually the first song I wrote for this project so kind of paved the way for all the music you’ve been hearing from me, and will continue to hear from me. We just shot the music video for that a couple of days ago and it was insane! All I’m saying is, you ain’t ready!
2021 is not ready!!
In the meantime, I just shot a bunch of acoustic versions to a of couple songs that I put out, ‘Starry Eyed’ included, so you can expect that in the next couple of week.
That is super exciting!
Yes girl, we are making moves!
We cannot wait to see all of this incredible music coming our way very very soon!
And finally, for those who are getting to know your music, for those who already know you and you music; what would you say is the most important thing people should know about you as an artist?
I think just that I’m unapologetically myself. When you listen to my songs you are really really getting to know me; you are inside my brain. These are my stories, this is my life, and I’m going to keep it real and tell you 100% how it was and not sugar coat anything… Also I’m really f*cking fun; I’m a good time, come hang out with me!