Just a quick blog post from me to say Merry Christmas from Good for a Girl!
Image: can you tell I am a professional graphic designer?
It’s been a great year; we laughed, we cried, we swore at idiots. Well, I did, anyway… Thanks to everyone who has read my ramblings and watched my interviews this year – you hanging out with me on this crazy, sexy, beautiful thing we call the internet is awesome and I hope I gave you something to enjoy at least once this year. Maybe twice? Did I make you laugh twice? PLEASE ACCEPT ME.
I’d like to thank the following people for helping me out with this GFAG biz this year;
My partner in life and crime, Moses (who came to Auckland and Aussie with me to film all the GFAG interviews and then edited all of the footage for me too!)
My twin in ‘getting shit done,’ and manager, Tom, and his assistant Max
Everyone who commented on my blog posts so I felt like at least one person read them
Good for a Girl will be taking a little Christmas break, to eat lots of food and drink lots of beers and buy lots of larger-sized pants for my new post-Christmas body. I’ll be back soon with more interviews, more whack-ass stories, more cool women in music, and a fuck tonne more unnecessary swear words!
I’ve been subconsciously stalking lisa crawley and her music for years.
How’s that for a headline? But it’s pretty much true. When I decided that I wanted my band to ‘give it a real go’ – I had to turn and watch other New Zealand musicians who were killing it independently to set the bar for myself, and follow their lead as best I could through the public-facing social media side of their careers. And Lisa Crawley was definitely one I had my keen stalkerish eye on from the get-go.
Lisa is a singer-songwriter from New Zealand – now based in Melbourne – who has one of the most impressive string of achievements of any artists I know. Two albums, 3 EPs, winner of Top Tune, sessioning for some of NZ’s most legendary acts, a working musician who works ruthlessly, and just an artist who knows who she is and what she wants
Given the content of a lot of her songs talking about being a woman in show biz or music, I knew she was definitely one lass I HAD to catch up with at Bigsound. And also given my years of casual stalking, I was quite excited to finally meet Lisa in person and have a chat to her about her unique experiences in the music industry, being that she is a solo artist and has been such a right blimin’ go-getter – which means she was pretty much guaranteed to have had to deal with her fair fuckin’ share of vag-related shit storms.
WATCH MY INTERVIEW WITH LISA CRAWLEY BELOW:
We won’t have to wait long to see Lisa back home in New Zealand – as she has said she is currently finalising January tour dates! Yus!
Make sure to get your own personal version of your hot-stalker-self on, and check out Lisa on the internet and beyond!
Interview: Lisa Crawley (@BIGSOUND) – Transcription
Emma: So the first thing I want to ask you is about your influences and inspirations from childhood – what kind of music were you surrounded by; growing up?
Lisa Crawley: Um, I was surrounded by, well I had a lot of music lessons from when I was 4. So the sound of the recorder I started playing (laughs)
Emma: (laughs) Was that your flagship instrument? Your first instrument?
(laughs) Yeah I still play it sometimes! For like, random stuff. I played it in the Tim Finn band, and there’s a song called Six Months in a Leaky Boat and it’s got a whistle solo in it so I play that on the recorder. But it’s probably not the coolest thing to voice… (coughs) anyway…
Yeah I had, I dunno my parents never really listened to many bands. And we kinda just had really cheesy compilation CDs for when my parent’s friends came over.
And I was quite involved with playing music at church when I was younger as well, so a lot of that music. A lot of.. kind of.. I wanted to be doing theatre stuff when I “grew up” so a lot of that stuff… not very.. cool..
I don’t think I discovered The Beatles until I was 15 or something like that. But yeah I went through all the phases ass a young teenager. The first CD I bought was Mai: Street Jams, so a lot of hip hop.
Emma: Yeah? Wow
Lisa Crawley: Yeah and lot of just kind of.. 90s music.
Emma: Do you feel like you had any role models of people you looked up to that made you go “I wanna be a musician I wanna be like that” ?
Um, I really loved.. well, even New Zealand musicians like Bic Runga and artists like that, who I still really enjoy listening to. Um, yeah. And I went to jazz school as well so listened to some jazz vocalists, but went through heaps of phases. I mean I loved the Jagged Little Pill album by Alanis Morissette and played that to death.
Emma: Well actually Elly, before, said ‘the first tape I ever bought was Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morissette’ – I feel like a lot of young girls got in to Alanis which is cool!
Totally! Yeah! I just remember thinking it was so rebellious having swear words. Because, I had a relatively sheltered upbringing I suppose so it was like ‘ooh! wow! that’s a bit racey!’
Emma: Which it kinda was, right!
Yeah! And then like.. I dunno I was in a band called Velez at high school and we did like.. the Rockquest and started playing in bars when I was like 15, 16…
Emma: Right, that’s interesting, it’s kinda similar to my experience. I started playing in bars around that age too because the guys in my band were older.
Did you have to bring your parents?
Emma: Yeah my dad came to all the shows and like watched them (laughs)
Emma: So when you were kind of in that scene, you were quite young, were the other members of your bands girls as well?
Lisa Crawley: No, I was the only girl. And I experienced from quite a young age; the complex of being the young girl in the band situation.
Um, people that would book us, you know like… who were in hindsight very seedy some of them. And had a lot of interesting comments about being a girl in a band, and how they have some idea of what that would be like without actually knowing anything about you.
Emma: Yeah. Do you have any specific experiences where you like… always will remember it to this day? Cuz you’re like ‘what the fuck?’
Yeah! I have quite a few actually. Because in that kind of really… we were playing in this, the band Velez, we played at a venue called The Temple a lot which was this great original music venue on Queen Street in Auckland that were really supportive, but also a lot of ‘5 bands for 5 bucks’ type things, and yeah I remember a particular guy getting me to come upstairs to chat to him and being like ‘oh I’d like you to do some backing vocals for me’ and it was just so seedy and a really awkward situation to be in because I was like, 16, it’s like what do you say to that?
Emma: Yeah, such a vulnerable age for girls as well, and especially in the music scene it’s kinda like.. you kinda just take it cuz you don’t know you can be like ‘oi dude, what the fuck?’
Yeah and I guess I wasn’t very used to conflict and stuff like that so. And on the other end of the spectrum I was playing music at church in that stage of my life and it was like these two worlds and I couldn’t win in either of them. And I really let it get to me much more than I would now. I would play – that band Velez – we ended up earning money, we discovered ‘oh we can be earning money playing covers!’ and stuff so even before 18 playing covers until 3 in the morning and like, in bars right next to strip clubs and stuff like that and people would look at you and treat you the same way. And it’s like.. whoa.
And then I would get up at 7, go to church, and then I remember someone in the congregation who was also a musician saying, calling me aside, saying ‘oh I just think your skirts a bit short to be playing..’ that kind of thing. Little did I know that he was the one who had the problem and ended up not being faithful to his girlfriend..
Emma: (laughs) Yeah! Right!
Lisa Crawley: So it was obviously his problem looking at my legs and like.. [does creepy guy impression] and it was just like, what?! Cuz the night before I remember someone saying ‘oh, pretty girl but you could do with sexing it up a bit’ and, sex was this foreign thing to me then! I was still..I dunno…
Emma: Innocent little Lisa!
Yeah! Yeah. So it was like, what? I can’t… what? So it’s taken me a while to not worry about that. I was too scared to take my jacket off at church because I was the one playing music in the background, while the sermon was playing. And even now if I’m taking off my jacket during a gig I’m like ‘ohh… is this…’ you know? And I’m like ‘shut up, brain!’ it’s all good.
Emma: Ah, I know. Yeah but it’s interesting because I feel like women, we do all think about this stuff when we’re musicians. Like dudes don’t ever have to think about these sorts of things.
That’s right, yeah!
Emma: Clothing and image and stuff comes up a lot and being comfortable in your own skin with a lot of women I’ve talked to. And my own epxerience.
Yeah! Yeah it’s.. pretty shit (laughs).
Emma: Yeah! But the annoying thing is it doesn’t really come from us. It’s bred in to us habitually by comments like, you know ‘your skirts a bit too short’ or ‘you could sex it up a bit’ you know? Like we don’t bring that on ourselves.
Yeah! I’m sure, in hindsight, the god I believe in or believed in or whatever, would be much more offended by his comment than my legs.
Emma: Yeah!! He created these legs.. (laughs)
(laughs) saying that, the same thing happened at a school I was working at. I was taking the choir, I’d come in on my day off, taking the choir and the reverend said the same thing! But it was a knee length skirt down to here [gestures].
Emma: Oop! No! Can’t do the knees!
I know! And she was wearing Crocs. And I’m like..
Come on, what’s more offensive? But yeah I took it on board and was like ‘what’s wrong.. what have I done wrong’ and I got really upset because I take quite a lot of pride in how I present myself and I really love doing the mentoring aspect of songwriting. I’ve done a lot of that in New Zealand actually, working at schools, LOVE working with girls and helping them create music. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what sort of image you’re putting out..
It’s hard because sometimes, you know, you see Instagram and it’s so easy to compare yourself to other people or think ‘oh maybe I need to be putting a photo up where I look filtered’ or you know.. it’s like.. ugh. But then you think about, you know, is this contributing to a better society for female musicians or not?
Emma: Yeah.. who knows, really?
It’s a complex.
Emma: So with your mentoring you say you work with young girls quite a bit; are you quite conscious of like, not warn them, but kinda just let them know about the industry as a whole and like don’t be discouraged if a guy tells them ‘your skirts too short’ like those things are going to happen, do you ever talk about that kinda stuff as well?
Yeah I do talk about that kind of thing as well, cuz I mean, but I also don’t want to sound like I’m this old bitter has-been or something
Emma: (laughs) yeah!
Lisa Crawley: Cuz I’ve done quite a bit of work as a session musician, playing keyboards and singing for those talent shows like X-Factor and that sort of thing, and there is that side to be weary of where people can get ripped off – guys and girls – but that’s another sort of thing. Yeah. I worked so hard doing shitty jobs to pay for my first couple of music videos before I got any funding or assistance and a guy, I was just sort getting my own stuff out there more, someone who had their own label showed interest. This really kind of awkward… ‘let’s have dinner and chat about it’ and it’s such a grey area. Cuz you’re like ‘ok… cool..’ but then you feel like.. i dunno. Just the way that that’s set up. Is that appropriate?
Emma: Yeah like dinner… is this weird, are you going to hit on me?
Emma: Is this actually secretly a date? And if you go there alone as well it’s so vulnerable and hard to get out of as well
That’s right. And yeah, and it’s hard cuz you don’t want to assume the worst. You want to be confident in your art and what you’ve done. But funnily enough, this guy turned up drunk at a gig that I did and hit on me. And I didn’t respond. And then those music videos were no longer on TV.
Just a couple of them. That was one experience. But it’s just like.. really?
Emma: Yeah that’s part of it as well. Cuz obviously with this blog and talking about women in the industry, I think there’s a lot of fear that even if we do talk about it, people might be like ‘you can’t talk about that! I’m not going to work with her.’ Which is why I’ve tried to make it like an inclusive conversation and it’s not aggressive in any way. But that’s a big thing that comes up too; being scared to sabotage your career if you don’t let a guy hit on you who’s apparently influential in some way.
Yeah you can like, laugh it off awkwardly, but it will get to a point – I have got to a point sometimes where I’ll just snap – especially I’ve always supplemented my own music by playing in hotels and stuff. So I was working at The Ritz hotel in London, like in the VIP area, and you think that would be a place with some class…
Lisa Crawley: But it’s just the same everywhere. You know I was playing piano for 5 hours I think, and singing for 5 hours…
Someone tipped… I had a tip jar cuz it didn’t pay very well so that’s another way of earning money. He goes ‘can you continue playing because I’m really enjoying it’ and I was about to have a break, and then, you know, expected after I finished a conversation. Wanted me to sit down, he had a wine for me, and I’m like I’m not an escort?! You know like I’ve seen escorts in these places but I felt like I was being treated the same way. And someone in that actual Ritz hotel came up to me and said ‘I’ve always wanted to fuck a girl on a piano.’ It’s like…
Emma: Holy shit!
Wow! Okay! Good for you – I’ve always wanted to punch someone in the face!
Emma: Yeah!! (laughs)
Yeah it’s like.. I dunno.. but because I’m there in a black dress and like..
Emma: Just…being a girl
It’s this awkward situation you know? I’m finishing at 1 in the morning in London getting the night bus. I hate that situation that you’re put in. I’m like am I here because I’m a girl or because I’m actually fucking good at what I do? And you have to reaffirm that all the time and it gets really tiring.
Emma: Yeah “it’s not cuz I’m a girl. It’s not cuz I’m a girl.”
I mean there’s nothing wrong – I love being a woman! And celebrating other women’s talent. But yeah it feels yuck when that happens. I get a lot of winks and stuff like that and it’s like… I dunno. I get really angry. But i also know fantastic men out there that have been supportive, but unfortunately um, yeah the people that I sort of let assist me have ended up being slightly disappointing as well in the way I’ve seen them treat other women. It’s like ‘oh man…’
Emma: Yeah. We will get there…
Emma: The conversation is the important part, and just letting people know that shit like this happens. Those are some brilliant, awful stories (laughs).
Lisa Crawley: Yeah.. we’ll hang out later and I’ll tell you more!
Emma: Yeah, brilliant. So what’s next for you? Have you got some releases on the calendar?
Yeah! I’ve just started to rent a studio space so I can actually make a job out of going there and writing everyday. I put out an EP at the end of last year and toured with that. And I’ve been living in Melbourne for about 2.5 years now. And there’s some great other musicians I’ve met, there’s a great community. there’s people going out on weeknights watching music. I don’t feel like I’m an outcast because I’m not married with kids… like all of my friends back home! It’s been good for me in that respect and also because I’ve been making music in New Zealand for a long time; being in Australia’s really…
Yeah! And not being that girl that played at church and not be the lounge singer. Just be me. Write new music. The gigs are getting better and better and I’m getting better at recording my own stuff, so, don’t have to be at the… be able to my own demos and stuff. So hopefully a new album next year is the plan..
I’ve done 2 so far, but it’s pretty expensive. And I continue to choose to work playing music that I don’t always care about that much like weddings and stuff. And I really have to monitor how much of that I let in because I am normally the only girl and it is a bit of a boys club. And watching these guys even just rate the women that are there makes me so mad!
Emma: And probably also doing a lot of shows like that, you can’t get too stuck in that world cuz it kinda takes away from your own inspiration. Cuz when you do shows like that are you doing covers?
The weddings? Yeah so the weddings… I’d be a singer or something, you’d be on guitar, we shakes hands and say nice to meet you cuz we’ve probably never played together, and we’ve got to play for 6 hours. Just have to know a heap of songs.
Emma: Wow.. that’s intense..
A highlight this year was arranging one of my songs for the Auckland Symphony
Emma: Wow! That’s amazing!
Stuff like that I go ‘actually know, you are good at music cuz you can arrange bits and pieces’ and I’ve never done that before
Emma: That’s awesome!
It’s a very up and down thing, you know? I did a stadium tour opening for Simply Red which are like… do you know them?
Emma: Yeah (laughs) of course!
It was kinda random, you know, but cool to play to that many people. But the next day I’m playing to no-one and possibly earning more doing that… it’s just like a bit of a head fuck.
Emma: That’s great though, I think there’s something about…I mean playing big shows is massive but there’s something about playing small shows that kind of keeps you grounded in the whole thing.
Oh yeah it’s like ‘that’s right… this is my life’