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Catching Up With Lizzy McAlpine

By Emily Teubner

When I was little, I used to get really starstruck.  I would freak out at the sight of an artist I liked on stage, and basically have a meltdown if a singer liked my tweet, or even mentioned my city in their latest post.  This “wow” factor has dwindled as I’ve grown older, and I’ve experienced more shows, and more interactions.  However, this “starstruck” feeling picked right back up when I was given the opportunity to set up an interview with Lizzy McAlpine, one of my favorite artists to date.  

five seconds flat is the newly released album by Lizzy; a 14 song masterpiece on heartbreak, experimenting with new sounds for Lizzy, and collaboration with artists like Finneas, Jacob Collier, and more.

The day of the interview, I got ready while listening to the album, set up my laptop, lit a candle to calm some nerves, and entered the Zoom room ready to chat with the amazing singer-songwriter that is Lizzy.  The rest is history…

Emily – So, congratulations on the release of your sophomore album.  It’s a huge hit, I’m so excited about it!  The record features an exploration of so many new sounds for you like synthpop, techno and alt rock and stuff we haven’t really been able to hear from you yet, so can you tell me what your favorite sound was to experiment with in creating the record?

Lizzy – I think probably the indie rock vibe of like “all my ghosts” and “orange show speedway”, that was really fun.  I feel like that’s the kind of music that I listen to and the kind of music that I was listening to a lot when we were making the record, so it was fun to kind of like to experiment with it myself.

Emily – So in the record, there’s a couple songs that specifically go with this motif of speeding playing with a journey through love and heartbreak.  Can you tell me where the inspiration came from to use this idea through songs like “reckless driving” and “orange show speedway”?

Lizzy – I don’t know if it was like a conscious decision that I made it kind of just like happened and then I pieced it together after the fact, which is normally what happens.  I normally write the songs and then after they’re all written, then I go back and I see the similarities and the themes.  Somehow they all fit together like really perfectly without me really even having to try to do that.  I feel like if I try to make them fit then it’s just like forced and it sounds weird because I’m just trying to write lyrics that fit with the other songs.  But if I just let it happen naturally, they end up fitting together somehow.

Emily – I guess it just worked out for this record!  So, from opening for Dodie to joining Finneas at Coachella recently, and now currently planning your upcoming headlining tour, performing live is becoming like a regular thing for you.  How have you seen yourself grow as a performer and a musician throughout all of this?

Lizzy – I definitely have grown a lot. I feel like at the beginning of the Dodie tour I was very unsure of myself on stage, and even when I did like Jimmy Kimmel and I was on Ellen a while ago and those performances were like really the first live performances that I’d really ever done with the band.  It was very scary and I was very nervous and I still get nervous for everything that I do in front of an audience like that. But now I feel like I’m more sure of myself and I know how to hold myself on a stage now. I feel like the Dodie tour really was big in helping that just because I was doing it every night over and over again.  So, I kind of had to get used to it.

Emily – Yes, I saw you in Philly, it was a good time! five seconds flat features collaborations with so many different artists.  Can you tell me your favorite parts of musical collaboration, and if there are any difficulties that you faced through the process, specifically with this record?

Lizzy – I mean this record was interesting ’cause we made it like during the pandemic.  So, we were stuck in Oregon recording this album for like 2 months last January and that’s when we were figuring out the features so we kind of just like did all of that remotely.  Ben and I wrote his verse and chorus over FaceTime, Laura wrote her verse and then just sent it to me, and Finneas wrote his verse and sent it to me. That’s kind of how we did it for this record, which is not usually the norm. I mean, I don’t really know what the norm is, but I’ve never really collaborated with people like this in this way, so it was good for me because I feel like in writing sessions generally I find that it’s harder for me to write true to myself. It feels like I’m just thinking about what other people are thinking about, and there’s a lot of pressure in writing sessions, unless you’re with the right people. But most writing sessions I’ve been in are just difficult for me, so I feel like it worked out this way.

Emily – So it allowed you to have your own vulnerable writing time by yourself, and then still let other people in to share their own things, that’s really cool. Your songs feature really vulnerable lyrics that often tell listeners little stories. What were some of the more difficult lyrics to write in your latest record and what is it like sharing these parts of yourself?

Lizzy – I mean I’m pretty much used to sharing every aspect of myself at this point, like that’s what I’ve been doing for a little bit, so it’s just become like second nature.  But this record specifically, there are a couple songs on it that I was really nervous about. And specifically, “nobody likes a secret”, that song took me a year to even be able to write it. The breakup that it’s about happened like over a year ago at this point, but it took me until a couple months ago to be able to write about.  I was really nervous about putting it out because it’s very specific and pretty obvious and it was just a little scary. Because normally, the people that I write the songs about, know that they’re about them and they’re cool with it. Like, I’m pretty much cool with most of the exes that I write songs about, like I’m cool with them, you know?  But this one not so much *laughs* so I was a little nervous. But now that it’s out, and seeing how many people have related, now I feel better about it.

Emily – Yeah, it’s out now, there’s nothing you could do about it *laughs* So since the release, what have you been learning about yourself as a creator and as a person?

Lizzy – I feel like I’m always learning new things about myself as a human and also just as an artist.  We were working on this album for over a year so I’ve already written so many new songs for the next record and I feel like I’m not the same person I was when we started making this album like even a year ago.  As a human and also as a creator like my songs will sound more me, like that’s what that’s just what happens.  It’s an evolution, constantly changing.

{End of interview}

With a brief goodbye, I closed my laptop and re-listened to the album once again.  I couldn’t get enough; five seconds flat is addictive.  I definitely recommend checking it out, especially my personal favorite tracks, “erase me,” “weird,” and “ceilings”.