WITH a new single out…
on 16th April; I was eager to talk to Liz Asaro about Take Me Home – a song that announces her as a serious talent to watch. She discusses her path into music and the artists who influenced her; whether there is going to be more material following; how important New York, and its people, is to her creativity and sound – and, whether she is coming to the U.K.
Asaro talks about her Irish roots and her songwriting process; whether she has a favourite memory from her time in music; how she unwinds when she isn’t recording – ending the interview with an Arctic Monkeys-scented closing song.
Hi, Liz. How are you? How has your week been?
Insane, really…and great! My E.P. is being mixed this week and I am really excited about it! I went to see Bruce Springsteen on Broadway and that was a treat. Nothing more inspiring than going to see one of the world’s best songwriters perform in such an intimate venue! Also; I went to a Broadway show with my kids - so a lotta good stuff!
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I am an Alternative-Rock artist. I live in New York City and I am a mom of three! As an artist, I am influenced by anything from Classic-Rock, to Grunge; to Metal, to Pop. I love writing lyrics and I try to make them meaningful without being too contrived. I, obviously, have a message I want to convey, but I like to leave room for the listener’s own interpretation. I love cool percussive sounds and a little edge to my music - with the vocal floating on top; often contrasting the instrumentation.
Take Me Home is your new track. What is the story behind it?
This song is about my good friend Mark Martinez, who passed away a few years ago. He embraced life like no other and touched so, so many lives. He always followed his dreams and challenged himself; while he constantly inspired everyone else in his life to do the same. It is about him and his passion for all that this life has to offer.
The track, clearly, has emotional relevance. Was it challenging putting it down on paper and hearing it back?!
Writing it was not hard: it was amazing once I finally had an arrangement, and even some remixes, that I liked! I wrote it in the shower one day and it took a bunch of instrumental arrangements to finally, stylistically, get to one I liked. Now, it makes me smile every time I hear it - and I do hope Mark likes it; wherever he is.
What comes next in terms of material?
I have a five-song E.P. coming out very soon! It’s being mixed as we speak! I’m shooting a video in London in April and booking gigs in the U.S. and U.K.!
Did music come into your life early? What got you hooked on it?
Not really! I mean, I have always been a huge music lover and it’s always been a part of my life that way. Music satisfies whatever emotion I need to be addressed - and I have always been good at utilizing and enjoying it in that capacity. But, I didn’t grow up in a family of musicians or anything like that. I was pretty timid about entering the realm of making music until later in life...
Once I found the first few people that helped me start writing, I just kept networking and pushing forward; working with as many people as I could. I realized, quickly, how attainable this was for me because I was so driven to do it…so I just kept going. I love it.
How inspiring is Manhattan when it comes to writing? Do you take a lot from the people around you?
I love people and I love understanding what makes them tick. So; Manhattan is very inspiring, for better or for worse! It’s a crazy place; it’s infectious and there is nothing like it. I love being surrounded by so many cultures, opinions; tastes, activities etc. I write a lot about human nature - so it works for me!
I know you have Irish roots. Does that heritage play a part in your music would you say?
I think so. Funnily, when my current manager David Rowell heard my music for the first time, he immediately said: “Oh, she’s Irish!”. So, I guess there must be something in my vocal tonality and, also (perhaps), in some of the instrumentation that might make you think that. I love cool percussive beats - and some of them may lean toward Celtic. My music has been likened to The Cranberries on many occasions, which I take as a big compliment!
Which musicians did you grow up on? Can you each remember the first album you ever bought?
The first album that I remember buying was In My Tribe by 10,000 Maniacs! I loved Natalie Merchant’s voice and I am honoured that people often tell me I sound like her.
Overall, I am a Rock girl. My favorite music, growing up, was 1990s Rock: Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots; Alice in Chains etc. I am also a huge Led Zeppelin fan and I love most Classic-Rock. I have so many favorite female vocalists: Debby Harry, Doloros O’Riordan, Alanis Morissette and Shirley Manson. I love music. It’s impossible to name all the bands I loved growing up!
Can we see you tour soon? What gigs do you have coming up?
I will be booking gigs soon! Just got finished recording an E.P. and it's being mixed. I will be putting together shows very soon!
Do you reckon you’ll come to the U.K. and play? Do you listen to a lot of British music?
Absolutely! We are looking into that soon! I listen to all music! I have been spending a lot of time over there writing and recording - and I love my team in the U.K.! I am happy to be exposed to even more British artists than I would have otherwise been.
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
I am so excited about getting this E.P. out. I can’t wait to play live again with a full band because it’s been a few months focused on writing. I love networking and meeting people, so I hope that the promotion and performances of this new music will help build a bigger audience. I love the give-and-take of music. I love this industry, as nuts as it can be! I’m also not slowing down with writing. I am very inspired right now and I am writing with as many people as I can!
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
So many - but one of those would be the first time I worked in the studio recording with Gerry Leonard; long-time guitarist and M.D. for David Bowie. It was the first time someone of that calibre had played on my music - and it was my first body of work. Gerry is a phenomenally atmospheric player and he adds layers upon layers of beautiful sounds to a song. When we took a minute to play back the takes over the speakers in the studio; there were some moments of ‘Wow, I really have some awesome songs here. Big sounds that will truly move people’.
Never mind the simultaneous feeling - that I had become worthy of people of that calibre working with me and becoming my friends and supporters.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Two important things that stick with me, as I move through this journey, are this. First: you have to mean it. You have to be genuine. If you are making music from a genuine place, people will believe you; they will want to work with you and they will want to listen to you. Music reaches people when it is genuine. All humans know this in their core.
Secondly: be in it. Be around music, go to shows; talk to artists…not just about the technical stuff, but about life. Watch shows, learn what you want to do and what you don’t want to do. Absorb it all and give back what you can from your soul.
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Time away from music: yes! Chill: not so much! Tons of kid’s activities to keep me occupied and in reality! I love being with them! I also work out. I box and I snowboard.
In the summer, I try to be at the beach or wake-surfing as much as I can! I am also just a huge fan of being with my friends and family: gatherings, dinners; dancing, live music - whatever social stuff I can do with them makes me happy!
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Today, I pick….
Arctic Monkeys - R U Mine?
Follow Liz Asaro