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January 28, 2021

Interview with Lisa Richards

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Lisa Richards appears at Lismore City Hall on Friday 27 November

I Got a Story

Indie artist Lisa Richards has just released her seventh album. It was something she started thinking about after she went to the Farwest Folk Alliance in LA. Her album, I Got a Story grew out of the conference. For a woman who didn’t pick up a guitar until she was 30, who believed her life would amount to nothing, she has made massive changes. She sings because it liberates her. She spoke with The Echo ahead of her show at Lismore City Hall.

What do you always want to bring to your singing? As a teacher, does it make you more conscious of finding new places for your voice to go?

Oh, That’s a great question! The thing that rules my singing and performances is ‘the moment’. I am always discovering my voice and rediscovering it, and exploring it, and my intent is to be present in the moment and bring what is asked for by each song in each situation. If the space is large and full of people, I bring something different than if the room is intimate. The audience also has a part to play in a concert. It’s a dynamic ‘live’ situation. I think that’s why people love seeing live performances, because they are an integral part of what happens. As a teacher, I am always looking for the truth, the authenticity of the moment… so I don’t really think much about my voice as being a separate thing, but I know that I never sing the same song the same way, mainly because that is not part of my skill set. It’s not the song that changes dramatically each time I sing it, but the details change, depending on where I am at on any given day… If my voice is feeling more or less responsive, I will go in a different direction, but I am always looking for freedom of expression.

What informs your songwriting? How does a song go from a spark to an actual thing?

The muse is an unruly partner, but the discipline I have developed is to sit down to write songs regularly. Sometimes that practice includes using song prompts, sometimes I give myself challenges on song parameters, like, today I’m writing a song with only two chords. I work to write complete songs when I sit down to write. It doesn’t always happen, but I find that more satisfying than having a bunch of incomplete songs on the boil. Then I play the song for people to get feedback. Then I shape it and edit, and add [to it] from there. I never know if a song is going to resonate with anyone else until I share it. I mean, in terms of themes, I am very curious about what it is to be human. The experience: life, death, love, birth, depression, raising children, history, war and peace, creativity, abuse, poverty, affluence…

How did you manage the quiet time of 2020 – what did you do?

I wrote a lot of new songs, I began to record and produce my songs using Logic pro, I did regular live streams, had lots of Facetime with friends near and far. I booked shows way out into the future! Started reading books again. Hung out with my husband and my dog. And took baths… probably other stuff too, it’s all a blur.

Who are the singers or songwriters who continue to inspire you?

I love Nina Simone, Patty Griffin, Anais Mitchell, Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen.

What is the song you wish you had written?

Hmmmmm so many songs, so little time. There are a couple of Anais Mitchell songs that are divine… a song called Now You Know… Any number of Nina Simone songs: I Got Life, See Line Woman.

What should we expect from your show at the Star Court Theatre?

A night of songs, love and laughter and possibly tears… Stories and songs from my new album I Got a Story and the albums that came before. We will take a journey together, and then I will drop you home safe and sound at the end. You will be full of life and nourishment. I’m really excited to have Lucie Thorne as my special guest kicking off the show. It will be a treat for sure.

Lisa Richards appears with Lucie Thorne at Lismore City Hall on Friday 27 November.
Tix at lismorecityhall.com.au

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