INTERVIEW: Liz Capra
Acoustic Artist (Liz Capra's CD For Sale)
By: Jett Black
Touring this fall with eleven other Acoustic musicians along the West Coast (USA) in the TourBaby line-up, Liz Capra brings to the stage new songs from a recently released new album, "Grappling". The title track of which appears on the TourBaby 2001 Compilation featuring all 12 musicians performing on that same acoustical music tour.
Having heard this title track and Liz Capra's full-length debut "different bodies, different places", I can certainly recommend both albums to anyone at all seeking independently released music featuring female vocals and honest lyrics looking both inward and out upon the world vicariously for answers.
Liz paints stories in songs that look back upon the anguish of the moment, sometimes in many distant years past that still feel so very compelling today, grief, remorse, and more importantly release from these that only time and maturity and honesty to self can manage to accomplish. A tabula rasa of heart aches and dreams, "different bodies, different places" espouses confidence in one's personal interactions with self and with significant others past, present and someday to-be.
"Grappling" provides a voice to a new self-awareness built upon the rocks of realisation, and release from grief, if only temporarily, long enough to make strides forth into the great beyond, that big, unknown world just a few feet outside your door of many people, many faces, "different bodies, different places".
Considering the magnitude of this voice on a journey so close to the heart and soul, In Music We Trust seeks now the voice of the writer and vocalist, Liz Capra...
IMWT: Who are the musicians appearing on your current recordings?
Liz: On "Different Bodies, Different Places" the lead vocals and most of the background vocals are by myself, Liz Capra. The guitars were performed by award-winning guitarist Ethan Sparks. Ethan's background is in classical guitar, and he's incredible. The bassist is Jason Pike, frontman/bassist of funk-meets-slam poetry-band, Husky Bones. The drum tracks were done by myself and Melvin "Shadow" Johnson, who also co-produced the album.
My live ep "Live" is three songs of solo stuff, just me and my guitar.
IMWT: Will the line-up of musicians for your pending tour reflect the very same line-up?
Liz: I am currently still touring/performing with Ethan Sparks, as a sort of duet type thing. The fall, the TourBaby tour will be solo acoustic. so, it'll just be me and my little guitar this run.
IMWT: When & where will your music next tour on the road?
Liz: The next tour begins in September with TourBaby. That'll be a group of acoustic musicians currently selling their releases on www.cdbaby.com. That picks up in Vancouver, B.C. and heads down the west coast.
IMWT: Who do you admire most in LIVE musical performance?
Liz: I'm partial to those artists who possess a rapport with their audience, those artists who really engage their listeners. I'm fond of Bruce Springsteen for commanding that craft... that ability to converse with an audience like old friends, but in such an entertaining way. He's so obviously still a performer.
Another artist I enjoy live is Ani DiFranco. She seems to break all those "performance rules" that we're so fond of. Like, don't let the audience see your mistakes, or don't tell a story unless it's related to a song. She has such a classic way of making fun of herself, and it really endears her to her audience. People want to see you as a real person. They didn't go to see a movie, or a play. In my opinion, they don't want actors, and she's a great example of that.
IMWT: What do you enjoy most so far about performing live?
Liz: I enjoy that human contact that seems to be always missing in a studio. I enjoy making people laugh, and observing the different reactions to a particular line or lyric. It's so human how many interpretations can evolve from one little line. It helps to also view performance as feedback time. As in, if something doesn't go over as well as I'd hoped, or if something really catches on. I try to use those reactions to improve upon my writing.
IMWT: Where do you do most of your recording?
Liz: The last album was recorded at Third Eye Studios, owned by Transcend Records. Melvin Johnson, who owns Transcend was the co-producer on "Different Bodies, Different Places" so we recorded the whole thing there.
Right now, I'm recording at a studio in Phoenix owned by Help! Productions.
IMWT: In what ways will your live performances differ from recordings?
Liz: My live performances are far more acoustic-oriented than the recordings. For now, it's just guitar and voice.
IMWT: What other side projects are you currently considering and developing?
Liz: Some of my music will be featured in a surf film in production right now. I also just recently released a 3-song live e.p. The songs are from the upcoming album. Their studio counterparts will be found on the album.
That one is limited edition, just for fun, and is only available at the live shows.
IMWT: Describe the feedback you have received in response to your music.
Liz: One thing I'd really hoped for was that people would feel a connection to the lyrical content of the songs, and that has been overwhelmingly true. I don't think I quite realized how touched people can be by a little honesty. But I feel very privelaged to be a part of that. It makes what I'm doing seem worthwhile. I mean, sometimes when I'm writing, I'll think, "nobody wants to hear this, you nut" and then I get these emails from people and I realize that we're all essentially the same. I think that's why people identify so well. We all pretty much go through the same things.
IMWT: How do you determine what aspects of poetry, and lyrics will work with your musical intent?
Liz: My music is very lyric based. The lyrics are really the driving force, and because of that, it's usually more about finding the music that fits with the poetry, and not the other way around.
IMWT: What will you entitle your next release, and when will it be available?
Liz: The next album is called "Grappling," and it will be available this summer, 2001.
IMWT: Who will be distributing your next releases?
Liz: For now, www.cdbaby.com/capra and the official website, www.nakednoiserecords.com.
IMWT: From what have you drawn upon most to develop your music?
Liz: It's really been the places I've been and people I've met that have most influenced my music. There are a lot of things I've seen, in the different countries I've lived in, which make me very sad. There's a lot of injustice and lack of care that surrounds us. So, instead of allowing that sadness to debilitate me, I've tried to use it as fuel for songwriting and storytelling.
IMWT: When did you start developing a commitment to recording and performing music?
Liz: My parents owned a recording studio for most of my childhood, so there wasn't really a time when music as a career wasn't a likely choice for me. As far as a commitment, though, (I don't know... am I commited now?!?)...
I guess I just do it and enjoy it. I mean to say, there hasn't necessarily been any sort of linear, conscious thought.
IMWT: Please tell our readers about how your music originally began to take shape and develop.
Liz: I always sang, but, as a child, I didn't really have anything to sing about. When I was 16 I moved to Russia, and, ta-da, suddenly there was A LOT to sing about. I was given an incredible opportunity to see life through completely different eyes, and it was at that point that I began to really write and develop my songwriting. It wasn't necessarily intentional. It was more along the lines of a much needed outlet. Some people have a diary, I had a songbook. Over the next few years, my songwriting started down the path that it has been on ever since.
IMWT: Who has had the most influence upon your progression as a musician?
Liz: I would have to say my father. I'm very lucky in that I have a mentor who's been in this business for almost forty years. He's seen so many changes, and he's seen even more stay the same, and because of him I've learned many a valuable lesson about being a musician. I think I've been able to avoid a lot of the usual brick walls just from his advice.
IMWT: Where else might readers find your music available for purchase?
Liz: Right now, www.cdbaby.com/capra and the live shows.
IMWT: What are you looking for now in terms of new musical influences?
Liz: I'm really trying to focus now on bringing back more of my original influences back into my music. As a kid I was surrounded by R&B and Motown, and that music greatly molded my musical tastes. Circumstantially, I feel that I've lost a lot of the rhythm end of music in my own songwriting. So, that's where I'm at right now, trying to incorporate that R&B into what I'm already doing.
IMWT: Which live performances have you seen during the past year that impressed you the most?
Liz: This past February I was up in Vancouver for the Folk Alliance Conference. My main goal was to see some other artists that I had heard some of my listeners tell me about. So, one of the artists I did get a chance to see was a fellow cdbaby.com musician, Erin McKeown. I was completely blown away. She has to be one of the best guitar players I've ever seen. I mean, it honestly shamed me, I thought, "you call yourself a guitar player, silly girl"- she was really that good. SO good. I would love to see her again sometime. If I may predict, she will go far.
IMWT: How do you know when you connect with your audience?
Liz: Before I was an avid performer, I assumed that the louder the clapping was the better you did, or the more you connected. I now have a far different opinion. There's more an emotional response that I watch for now. It's not difficult to spot, either. It's a way that people nod during a line or tilt their heads. That's one of the main reasons I enjoy small venues. I feel I can observe that connection more accurately.
IMWT: What innovative concepts would you like to focus upon in your future performances and recordings?
Liz: I would really like to incorporate more of those hip/hop style drum tracks into my music both onstage and in the studio. I think it would add a more interesting mix. I get nervous boxing myself into a genre, because I hate to feel limited in what I'm writing, like there's some sort of outline I'm forced to follow. I just want to write what I like.
IMWT: What is the greatest drain upon your motivation to unleash the music you produce?
Liz: Honestly, I'd have to say it's the entire business aspect of being a musician. I really enjoy writing, and I really enjoy performing, but the second it gets about anything else I just get tired.
IMWT: What motivates you to continue performing and recording new music?
Liz: Well, I feel like I still have a lot to say. And then, of course, there's the fact that music to me is just the most incredible thing. Nothing can touch people (in my experience, anyway) like music can, and I really love being a part of that. That's what it boils down to, basically.
IMWT: Describe some of the creative techniques and instrumentation used to develop your recordings.
Liz: I really love to find musicians I admire, bring them into the studio and see what happens. With the first album, I really wanted Jason Pike to do some bass tracks, because his band, Husky Bones, has redefined the bass guitar. I wanted to bring him in with Melvin's R&B background, Ethan's classical background, and myself and just see what we came up with. I think if you have a group of musicians who are talented and willing to experiment, you're not going to go too terribly wrong.
I wanted to do that somewhat on this album, too. I know this incredible violinist, and I asked him to come in along with a guitarist from this metal band I know, and see what we got. I guess in some ways it's kind of like putting a hurricane in a room, but I really enjoy working that way.
IMWT: What new opportunties are you exploring and developing to advance your music to the general public?
Liz: I got involved with TourBaby because I thought it was a terrific opportunity for all the musicians involved, and the fans as well, to be introduced to this whole new group. for the musicians all bringing our respective audiences and then introducing them to these other incredible musicians, it's just a priceless opportunity.
I'd really like to do more of that sort of thing. Networking with other musicians, and utilizing one another as the resources that we are. The problem arises when we start to view each other as "the competition."
IMWT: Tell us a bit about the most memorable performance you have had to date.
Liz: One show that stands out in particular is the night I met Chuck. He's a man that comes to a lot of the shows, and after this show one night I finally ended up speaking to him. He caught me on my way out, and asked me if I could tell him a little about this line in one of my songs. It actually turned into a three hour conversation.
The reason this is so important to me, is it was one of the first times that I ever was able to define why I was a musician. The chance to so intimately connect with someone you've never met before (and may never see again), rarely comes about in most jobs. But it's what most forms of art are all about.
IMWT: How do internet resources impact how you are able to expose and market your music?
Liz: The internet has pretty much been my link to the outside world. Without companies like www.CdBaby.com, I'd still be decidedly "local", and it's really allowed unbelievable opportunity for artists.
IMWT: What challenges have you experienced thus far in expressing your views through music?
Liz: The challenges come on many levels, really. First, there's the strain in just trying to find the right words for the meaning. I've always been a fairly verbal person, so I don't have a lot of trouble turning my thought into lyrics, but it's the feelings of "is this really what I'm trying to say" that start to nag at me sometimes. It's easy to know how I feel and what I intend, right in this moment, but the hard part is committing to that. A song can last forever. So, essentially, once I'm gone that little piece of what I was trying to say will live on. that in itself is a big committment... finding the words that will hold their meaning through time. Then there's the fear that I wish I could say I'm above. That's the fear of others' reactions. I do get nervous actually singing some of my lines in front of an audience. I'd like to someday get to that point where you don't really care how people perceive you, but I'm definitely not there yet. Maybe that place doesn't really exist.
IMWT: Where can our readers find on-line audio of your music?
Liz: www.cdbaby.com/capra and mp3.com both have audio clips from the first album.
IMWT: Where can readers write to with any further questions and feedback?
Liz: For general information, they can email [email protected] or for questions pertaining to more of the music side, they can email me at [email protected].
IMWT: What have you cooked up for the band in the next few weeks and months?
Liz: At the moment, I'm in the studio finishing up on "Grappling." Once that's done, they're will be some release stuff for that during the summer. Then, this fall I'll be on the road with TourBaby 2001. There is also a possible late summer tour, but that's not finalized quite yet.
IMWT: What do you plan to accomplish by year's end?
Liz: Honestly, I've been so crazy busy finishing "Grappling," that I really haven't much thought about it! However, if TourBaby turns out to be as great as I think it's going to be, I'm definitely for doing some more group touring. I'm just so excited about this whole experience. So, once that's up and running, I'll see where that takes me.
IMWT: What hats do you wear in the production process?
Liz: Well, on "Different Bodies, Different Places" I co-produced with Melvin Johnson, but for "Grappling" I'm taking on a lot more responsibility. Probably too much responsibility, because there's not going to be anyone for me to blame when I'm done! No, actually I'm enjoying the role of producer, but it's impossible for any one person to take all the credit. for me, it's such a communal experience. I love the feedback and ideas I get from everybody in the studio.
IMWT: How can music enthusiasts best contact you for more information about your music?
Liz: Email is probably the fastest way to get a response. So, that's [email protected] for the general stuff and [email protected] for any personal notes or questions.