Call Answered: Lisa Loeb: "Lullaby Girl", "Stay", & Broadway dreams
"So, I, turned the radio on and I turned the radio up" and 23 years later, I'm still listening to Grammy nominated singer-songwriter Lisa Loeb. "Truthfully" it was a dream come true to interview Lisa about her upcoming family album Lullaby Girl. I have always found Lisa's songs and lyrics to be inquisitive, sophisticated, and right on the money when I needed a song to get me through the rough times, but also to celebrate the good times!
Lullaby Girl, out October 6, is a new Amazon Original family music album available for streaming exclusively through Amazon Music Unlimited and Prime Music, as well as for digital download or physical purchase through Amazon Music. Lullaby Girloffers fresh and dreamy arrangements of 13 classic songs from a variety of genres with a world-class quartet led by keyboardist Larry Goldings. Originally planned as a traditional lullaby record for children, Loeb and her collaborators found a uniquely different path during the recording process and realized this would be an album for kids and adults alike.
Lullaby Girl features such familiar songs as "Be My Baby" (The Ronettes), "All the Pretty Little Horses," "Dream a Little Dream," "What the World Needs Now Is Love," "O-o-h Child," "In My Room" (Brian Wilson), and "Tomorrow" from Broadway's Annie as well as Lisa’s original songs, "Close Your Eyes" and "Lullaby Girl."
Lullaby Girl will be available October 6 and can be pre-ordered here!
1. Who or what inspired you to be a singer/songwriter? No one really inspired me. I always had music around me. I also had access to choosing my own music, whether it was picking out a record I wanted to hear or radio station I wanted to listen to, so there was a lot of involvement in music. I also enjoyed doing musical theatre as a kid and learning the popular songs of the time. Like a lot of my constituents, I took piano lessons when I was six or seven years old and started writing music back then. So, music has always been a part of me.
Me: Since you mentioned musical theatre, I hope one day on your plan is to come to Broadway and do a show.
Lisa Loeb: I would love it. We are always talking about it and figuring out if there’s an opportunity there and trying to make it happen because that would be very exciting. It would be like a dream come true. On my newest record, Lullaby Girl, coming out October 6, I recorded "Tomorrow" from Annie. It was so much fun to record. I just love to sing and dance. It'd be great to be in a musical.
2. This October you are releasing your new family album Lullaby Girl, a collection of classic songs from a variety of genres. What do you like about recording children's music or making music that can be shared by children & adults alike? It’s funny, this record is the least kind of kid's record we made. In fact, somebody was asking us, when we were figuring out how to promote the record, what were the focus tracks for kids? That is almost impossible to figure out because there was really no kids and grown-ups in it. It was just songs I loved growing up and a few originals too. I think traditionally for my kids records we write or choose songs that have a different element about them than my grown-up songs. For children, they are not always about relationships, in that traditional romantic relationship way, they are more about experiences. There’s a more colorful vivid element to the lyrics and I think I tend to do a little more experimenting with music styles. With this newest record, we were working with standards and I think when I was a kid, kids were just expected to live in the grown-up world, not in a bad way, but just there was a little bit more sophistication, humor and silliness, but not in a kid-centered way, the music still appealed to kids and I think that’s what I continue to try to do and feel that is what’s happening with my music.
3. Before we get to this new album, let's go back to 2003 when you released your first children's album. At that time, what made you want to move into children's music? I think it was inspired by my love for kid’s things. I’m really sentimental. While I listened to a lot of adult music like The Mamas and the Papas, Led Zeplin, classical music, and musical theatre, there were a handful of children’s records that really spoke to me like Marlo Thomas' Free To Be You and Me and Carole Kings' Really Rosie.
Making children's music was more about capturing my childhood and sharing that than performing for kids. I think grown-ups who have a connection to their own childhood might connect to it better. That music is timeless. After I made Catch The Moon, my first kid’s record, I moved into doing an album of summer camp songs, but it again it was more about me sharing my experience and reminiscing.
4. I am loving your renditions of "Be My Baby" and "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow" on Lullaby Girl. What was the biggest challenge in stripping down these songs from their original version and turning them into more acoustic/lullaby songs? Well, it was less about stripping down and more about reinterpreting these songs. We were specifically trying to do a lullaby record so we had to find tones in the instruments that set the mood for the different phases of sleep. With the songs that were most familiar like Fleetwood Mac’s "Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow," we really had to do something different to give that rhythmic feel. We wanted versions that were interesting. Each song was interpreted in a different way, but tried to be true to the original arrangement of the song. Other songs we tried to interpret directly because we felt that represented the song best, like "Dream A Little Dream." As we looked at the big picture of all the different songs we were doing, we were trying to approach them at different angles so the audience can go to different places, but still be in that world of lullaby.
5. Your original songs "Lullaby Girl" & "Close Your Eyes" are terrific. They fit so well in this album. Did you write them first and then centered the other songs & sound around them or was it the other way around? We wrote "Close Your Eyes" while were in the middle of choosing songs for the record. We weren’t sure how many covers & how many original songs were going to be there, so we started choosing the songs and what they might sound like and then in the middle of that process, my collaborates, Larry, Rich, & I wrote "Close Your Eyes." We did want something that would fit instrumentally with the group of musicians we knew would be playing with us. Then we were about to write another song, but I remembered writing some other lullabies, so I looked back in my catalog and saw I had a couple of songs and I found "Lullaby Girl," which is a little more modern than some of the other songs on the record, but I feel like with the placement after "All The Pretty Little Horses," it picks up on that singer-songwriter feel.
"Lullaby Girl" was a song I wrote with my friend Cliff. We were visiting Nashville and it was my first day there and it was very late at night, so I called to wish my daughter "Good Night" and after I hung up the phone, Cliff & I were like, "Well, we’re in Nashville, so we should write a song." So we decided to write a song inspired by that moment of me calling my daughter, which became "Lullaby Girl."
6. This past May, "Stay" celebrated its 23rd anniversary! Looking back over your career and life these past 23 years, and since "Stay" was on the Reality Bites soundtrack, when was there a time, you said to yourself, "Reality Bites!, like it just really stinks"? I definitely think there are challenges in the direction the music industry is going for musicians. For listeners it’s awesome, we can get any song we want, anytime, with all these different apps we have. I mean, my mom used to have to drive me to some weird part of town to find albums and songs, and now we just push a button. For musicians it's tough because a lot of income goes away. It’s not what we expected. When you’ve been doing this for a long time, you think you’ll get royalties, but when listeners can get everything for free, the checks aren’t coming in. It makes it hard to do the job if it’s not paying for itself. I think most industries are taking a hit that way, you know budgets are down all over the place. The most stressful part is when you love what you are doing and you know there is an audience out there, but you still have to think about how is this a business and the way in which it works. I think any artists or entrepreneur will always need to be concerned with the business side of things, but I just feel the break point has changed especially since it’s such a do-it-yourself kind of world. I’ve always been hands-on and love connecting with fans, but the balance has shifted a lot. We need a little bit more time to create our art and less time to create social network strategies.
7. In your song, "The Way It Really Is," you sing "Maybe what if it could be the way I wish it really was. Maybe I don't want to see it the way it really is." What is something that you did you want to see "The Way It Really Is"? I think it’s mostly relationship situations. I’ve been in relationships where I ignore the immediate signs of what is not working. It’s said that when you break up with somebody, the reason you break up is the reason you knew in the beginning it wasn’t going to work out. It’s ignoring those blatant signs and then you look back and go, "Ugh, I knew that was the reason it wasn't going to work."
8. If you could invite 4 people to have "Cake & Pie" with, you would you invite and what kind of "Cake & Pie" would you have? That’s such a hard question. I’m never good at narrowing down people. Elton John would be really fun. Patton Oswalt the comedian would be great too. If it were non-famous people, I would choose my husband and my three best friends. I would serve yellow cake with a light coating of chocolate frosting and sprinkles as well as cherry pie from Earth Café.
9. This next question is in sort of in line with the work you do for Muddy Puddle Project, which reminds kids and adults to always try to enjoy life, take small moments and not put them off until later. If this was your last day on earth, what would you want to do that you haven't done yet? I wouldn’t say I haven’t done this, but I would love to go the Caribbean and put my feet in the gorgeously warm turquoise water and that beautiful white sand.
10. I have a new segment to my interviews called "I Can See Clearly Now" where I like to clear up any misconceptions out there. What do you feel is the biggest misconception out there about yourself? People think I’m kind of quiet and timid. I think that comes from the fact I’m a small person and was so emotional in my video for "Stay." But, I’m not. I’m an outspoken business person who’s not so quiet.
11. I also have a section on my website called "One Percent Better" where, through my own fitness commitment, I try to inspire people to improve their lives by one percent better everyday. What is something in your life that you want to improve by 1% better everyday? That’s cool. Sleeping. It’s always on my mind and I do think to make it better everyday. I’d like to sleep more and sleep better.
12. What is a quirk about yourself that your friends make fun of you for? When I was kid I used to get made fun of for my love of David Bowie. I would always get so excited about his music and anytime I would tell my friends “Guys, you have to listen to this song by David Bowie, it’s called "The Bewlay Brothers" or other tracks from the Hunky Dory record, they’d always make fun of me for it.
More on Lisa:
Grammy nominated Lisa Loeb is a singer-songwriter, producer, touring artist, author and philanthropist who started her career with the platinum-selling Number 1 hit song "Stay (I Missed You)" from the film Reality Bites. A trailblazing independent artist, Lisa was the first pop musician to have a Number 1 single while not signed to a recording contract. She followed that remarkable feat with the hit singles "Do You Sleep," "I Do," and "Let's Forget about It" and the albums Cake and Pie and No Fairy Tale, among others.
Lisa continues to craft irresistible pop songs for the 21st century, while designing Lisa Loeb Eyewear, writing children's books, and supporting non-profit causes. The Los Angeles based mother of two is well-known to parents and kids for her albums Catch the Moon (with Elizabeth Mitchell) and Amazon Music exclusives, Nursery Rhyme Parade! and Feel What U Feel (featuring Craig Robinson and Ed Helms). She has also published two picture book-CDs for Sterling Children’s Books: Lisa Loeb’s Songs for Movin’ and Shakin' and Lisa Loeb’s Silly Sing Along.
In addition to these family albums, Lisa's Camp Lisa raises funds for The Camp Lisa Foundation to allow kids, who wouldn't normally have the opportunity, to go to summer camp, and in 2015, the American Camp Association, New England named Lisa Loeb as their Camp Champions Honoree.
Lisa's recent film and television appearances include Netflix’s Sandy Wexler, TV Land’s Teachers, Amazon’s Creative Galaxy, @Midnight with Chris Hardwick, Last week Tonight with John Oliver, About a Boy, and Hot Tub Time Machine 2. Lisa is currently touring around the United States and Canada, releasing new styles of her signature eyewear through Lisa Loeb Eyewear, and will soon be releasing music videos to coincide with her Amazon Music family record, Feel What U Feel.