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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 20 years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, and B-movies. Part time ninja. Kicked cancer’s ass. My memoir, ChemBro, is out now!
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LIZ Is Your Favorite Artist’s New Obsession
Thursday, April 03, 2014

LIZ’s sound, and style, have generated quite the buzz in the industry, as Katy Perry, Pharrell, Charli XCX, and Lorde are all openly fans of her music. With that kind of support, and a 90s inspired EP titled Just Like You, LIZ has also caught our attention.

Bringing back everything that was great about the TRL era, LIZ is Mad Decent’s first pop princess. Signed to the label’s Jeffree’s imprint, LIZ, with her baggy clothes, baseball caps, and occasional clip art filled music videos, not only has the look of the 90s, her music, filled with nostalgia based production, feels like it would have fit in perfectly in a playlist being announced by Carson Daly in Times Square.

While I may not have fans holding up signs outside of my office (yet), LIZ still sat down with me to discuss her music, her 90s inspirations, and a whole lot more.

Adam Bernard: First off, I’ve read you describe your bedroom as looking like a 14 year old lives in it.

LIZ: Right, yeah. I recently moved from my childhood house, but yeah, it was still full of all my posters. There were definitely NSYNC posters, and Aaliyah, and Britney, and then I had some Fiona Apple, and David Bowie, and Coldplay stuff, too. Blondie.

Adam Bernard: What were the three quintessential LIZ things in that bedroom?

LIZ: Let’s see. Thinking back. Definitely my Beanie Baby collection. Many many of those. The big drawing of JC Chasez that I bought on ebay when I was 13.

Adam Bernard: Early JC, or “Some Girls Dance With Women,” Schizophrenic, JC?

LIZ: Early JC, not Schizophrenic, JC. We ended up shrinking that poster, and that was the one I was drawing on in the beginning of my “Hush” video. So whoever made that, I hope they see it, and they’re flattered.

Adam Bernard: Shout out the ebay user name, whatever whatever.

LIZ: I know, right? I could probably look back in my history and see who it was, and send them the link to the video.

Adam Bernard: And it would be terrifying if it was a 75 year old man who just enjoyed boy bands, or it’s Lou Pearlman, and he’s doing it from jail.

LIZ: Oh my God. {laughs} The third quintessential thing in my bedroom is my keyboard. That’s where I wrote a lot of songs. I still have that keyboard. I’m moving it into the studio, though, that we have out here. That keyboard has a lot of memories because it was the one that I used to take to all my shows, all my little coffee house, and small club, gigs back in the day. I would just play piano and sing.

Adam Bernard: Were you playing this kind of music in coffee houses, because it seems like an odd match.

LIZ: No. I was playing pop music, but it was like everything was just organic, and acoustic. It was possibly a little bit darker, but it was definitely pop, soul, R&B, and (it had) a little bit more of a Fiona Apple vibe to it. That’s when I was going through my tortured teenage years, and I took myself really seriously.

Adam Bernard: You’ve gotten happier over the years, is what you’re saying.

LIZ: Yeah. {laughs} I went through all those different stages, and I’m just chillin now. I’m happy, and not trying to be anything that I’m not. I know who I am now. I think it’s important to experiment, and go through all those different stages, because when you’re growing as an artist you’re also growing up as a person. I’m happy that I never officially released anything back in the day, because I’m not sure that I would be that happy with it now. All the songs were really good, and were well written, but if you come out, and then you change and grow, which is normal, you have to try harder to prove yourself, and reinvent yourself. I’m happy with the way things turned out.

Adam Bernard: Who you are seems to be the living embodiment of the 90s/early millennium. What about that era speaks to you the most?

LIZ: I think it was just the melodies, and the colorful visuals, and the shininess of it, and how pop stars had this vibe of being unattainable, but at the same time they felt like they were your best friends. They were just such idols. I think when you’re young, that’s when you dream of the most, and I had a lot of dreams, and I made a lot of promises to myself at that time. I think it’s just finally manifesting now in the way that it’s supposed to.

Adam Bernard: You mentioned how pop stars had a vibe of simultaneously being unattainable, and your best friend. It seems like every ten years, or so, that sheen of idolatry gets chipped away.

LIZ: Yeah. Back then there wasn’t social media, so we didn’t know what people did in their personal lives. We would only hear things. The most we heard was like Justin and Britney are together, and the next thing we heard was they broke up. It was just more mysterious, I guess.

Adam Bernard: It was never any of our business if they had sex, but if that relationship had occurred under present day conditions it would have been Instagrammed.

LIZ: I just don’t think anyone would even care now, though, because I feel like there was a sense of innocence back then, and it was such a big deal when Britney was on the cover of Rolling Stone holding the Teletubby, with her midriff top, and stuff. It was such a big deal back then, and now I think people are just so kind of numb to a lot of things, and everyone is just trying to be edgier than the next person, everything is about shock value, and it’s not really about just the pure pop anymore. I guess, I don’t know, I just relate to that time, and also, the melodies of songs back then on the radio, you could sing along to them, and it’s just harder, nowadays, to sing along to songs on the radio, especially with the whole EDM craze that happened. It’s weird for me to say that because I’m signed to Mad Decent.

Adam Bernard: I was about to say, you’re on Mad Decent.

LIZ: Yeah, but I feel like they’re more tasteful, and more worldly. They never really release any like just straight corny dance shit. I have always been a fan of Mad Decent, and their releases, and the stuff that Diplo has worked on. Diplo has a great ear for pop music, as well, and he enjoys making it in his own way, and I respect him a lot for that. It’s really cool. He can work with Usher, and he can work with Beyonce, but he also knows every reggae person in the world, and makes amazing reggae music, and he works with some of the most underground people, but he can also work with the biggest pop stars in the world, and still bring his flavor to it. I respect him a lot for that, and that’s why I’m a part of their crew, because I feel like I can fit in with them, just in my own way.

Adam Bernard: Speaking of how you fit in, let’s talk about your Just Like You EP (which readers can download for free, for a limited time, at http://bit.ly/JustLikeYouEP). What was going on in your life that inspired the album?

LIZ: Definitely relationship stuff. It’s hard to have one when you’re working a lot, and going through that transitional stage in your life when you’re trying to build your own life, like achieve goals and dreams, and stuff like that. It’s confusing when you start dating someone, and you’ll be going on similar paths, and then it will split off, and maybe they don’t have as much ambition as you do, or they just kind of go down a different road. For me, personally, I always give people the benefit of the doubt, and I can be naive at times in relationships, and I can really try to hold on to things, and try to make them work, when they’re probably not supposed to end up working. Every song comes from a really raw place. Even if the songs end up being playful, they still come from a very real place. I feel like I go through the same things any other girl does, and I feel like Taylor Swift songs, and Katy Perry songs, and Ellie Goulding songs are not that different from mine when you really come down to the substance, the subjects, what they’re about.

Adam Bernard: You mentioned Katy Perry, and she’s said she’s a fan of yours, correct?

LIZ: Yeah, I actually just met her a couple weeks ago. She’s super sweet, and she’s definitely a supporter. It was really cool to meet her, and she’s definitely someone that I look up to.

Adam Bernard: You’ve received a lot of big name co-signs. Has any one particular co-sign left you speechless?

LIZ: Well, I just recorded a song for the Spiderman 2 soundtrack, and it was written and produced by Pharrell. That was pretty crazy, when he was like yeah, I want her to be on this. I was like, WHAT? That’s nuts. I’m excited for that to come out, and hopefully work with him some more.

Adam Bernard: What was that phone call like? Did someone tell you he wanted to work with you, or did he call you directly like “Yo, I got this Spiderman 2 soundtrack. Let’s do this?”

LIZ: No, I actually have not met him yet, and I haven’t spoken to him on the phone. It was through my management. I was definitely speechless for a minute. When stuff like that just happens, I just get into go mode. I’m like, “I’ll be in the studio in an hour, let’s do this!” Stuff like that is really great, and definitely Katy Perry, that’s pretty cool, her being supportive of me, and liking my songs. Lorde is also really sweet. She tweeted me that she liked my music. It’s so nice to have the support of such amazing artists that hopefully one day I can call my peers. I just gotta keep working.

Adam Bernard: Totally on the record, admit it, you can get Lorde to throw her hands up in the air.

LIZ: I guess so. {laughs}

Adam Bernard: From meeting Katy Perry and having her co-sign, to working with Pharrell, you’re doing all these incredible things. I there any singular moment you can pinpoint as the wildest, or most interesting, thing you’ve seen, or experienced during this journey?

LIZ: It’s just kind of everything combined because I used to put Mad Decent stickers on my laptop, and I used to dream about working with Diplo, and his whole camp, and I would make songs, and beats, with my DJ friends in their bedrooms maybe four years ago, or something like that, and kind of emulate stuff that he was doing, and now to be not only working with him, but to be signed to him, too, it’s truly insane. It’s crazy how you can actually manifest things in life when you just put your mind to it, and put in the work. I guess that’s one of my biggest things, what I want people to take away from my story, and my music, anything is possible. It really is. If you put in the work, and if you’re smart enough to navigate the world, and you can make smart decisions, and you just keep doing what you're doing, things can really really happen.

Adam Bernard: That’s good to hear, because I tweet that Vanessa Hudgens should hang out with me all the time, and one of these days it’s gonna happen.

LIZ: {laughs} Hey man, you never know. The next person you interview could be like “She’s my best friend. Yeah, come over, we’ll hang out.” If I ever meet her, I’ll be like I know someone who really wants to meet you.

Adam Bernard: Thanks! Switching gears a bit, I read you took a trip to Japan that heavily influenced you. When was that?

LIZ: I think it was in 2009. I was there for about a month. The reason I went was, this is another story about manifestation, I had been joking with one of my friends that I really wanted to go to Tokyo. I’ve always wanted to go there. Maybe I could be a hair model, or something.

Adam Bernard: Really shooting for the stars there with hair modeling.

LIZ: I don’t know, I was just thinking of any excuse so I could go there. Literally like a week later I got, this was back when MySpace was still...

Adam Bernard: Viable?

LIZ: {laughs} This Japanese producer hit me up, and was saying how he wanted to develop an American pop singer, but singing in Japanese. His studio happened to be like five minutes away from my house, so I was like oh my God, hell yeah, what do I have to lose, this is so cool! I went over there and I ended up recording a whole EP in Japanese, of enka music, which is kind of their soul music, I guess. (It’s) all those songs that you hear the businessmen sing during karaoke, and get drunk to, and cry to. I recorded a whole EP, and then got to go over there, and meet a bunch of people, and perform for some Japanese labels. I had a photo shoot, and went all around, The thing is they wanted me to move there, and become completely fluent in Japanese. I was studying it, but it takes a while to become fluent. I was like alright, this is fun, but this is just a bit much, (I’d have had to) uproot my whole life. I didn’t know anybody here. It was very lonely when I was there. It was cool that I did that, and I would love to record a single in Japanese, and then when I go over there do it in Japanese, or I could just whip out one of the songs I already know. It would be fun. It would be fun to shoot a video there. Who knows.

Adam Bernard: Finally, you were home-schooled for your final two years of high school. Being that home school kids don’t get a prom, are you hoping to see the kind of success that will lead to kids posting videos asking you to be their prom date?

LIZ: Awwww! You know, I was never really into the whole school dance thing. I didn’t go to the winter formals, or the prom, or anything like that, but I went to the after-parties, so I still kept in touch with some of my friends. Maybe for my next birthday I can throw a prom themed party. That would be fun. I think that would be really cute.

Adam Bernard: Would everyone have to have a cheap hotel room for afterwards, just in case?

LIZ: {laughs} I would just rent the whole hotel, and then we could just run around, knock on everyone’s door, attack everybody, have pillow fights, and throw ice cream and whipped cream everywhere. It sounds like a really great fantasy, huh?

Adam Bernard: I want an invite!

LIZ: And I’ll have the coolest DJs ever DJ the party. We’ll have a Major Lazer set, and Cashmere Cat. It will be crazy.

Interview originally ran on Arena.com.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 1:46 PM  
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