Lisa Richards

Australian powerhouse singer and songwriter Lisa Richards is a self taught guitarist driven by finding sounds and rhythms around her that she can dig into to create a base for her voice and lyrics. Some might call it “folk art” but she calls it a melting pot mix of folk, jazz, blues, country and pop. She is a fan of Sufi poetry so she loves to dig down to figure out how to say what she wants in the best words.

She thinks she has been influenced by everything she has ever listened to including Leonard Cohen, Ricki Lee Jones, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Tom Waits, Led Zeppelin, Lorde and Bat for Lashes among others but she thinks her songs and singing style share a similar essence to the blues.

She had a rough childhood. She grew up in Townsville with a medico father and a concert pianist mother who discouraged the playing of instruments in the house. Her mother was later injured in a car accident and needed full-time care and medication. At this time, Richards was also bombarded with antipsychotics for a number of perceived disorders. By her teens, Richards had gone down an all too familiar pathway of drugs and alcohol that soon saw her busking in Kings Cross before leaving for the United States and ditching pills and booze completely.

“I started singing in my 20s and picked up the guitar when I was 30 and made my first of six albums”, Richards said. “The first one I did was on a spec deal with three different producers, where the producers would invest time and money and energy and their art into creating something and then shipping it to the labels”.

This was followed by a second album, also produced on spec, after which Richards moved to the music capital of America – Austin, Texas. The first album in Austin was more collaborative and she co-wrote the songs with the producer. Richards said she recorded that album and the one after that in her house in Austin with her husband at the time by setting up in the living room and getting players to come in.

Supported by an ActACT grant, the single ‘Little Bird‘ is from Richards’ sixth album “I Got A Story”, recorded in Woodstock and Brooklyn, and produced by Tim Bright. “I do have a body of work and I am a free agent and I am going to keep creating work and in my mind it just keeps getting deeper and richer as I keep living and having experiences“. This is the place in Richards’ life from where her song ‘Little Bird’ comes from. This song has minimal production. It’s a song about finding a creative voice in the world. It’s about being bold, free, visible and human. Richards thinks this song, her voice, her singing and writing style are a surprise for people since it’s a bit different.

The video is also a special piece of work, as it was done as a gift to Richards by three-time Emmy Award director, Consuelo Gonzalez. The video was shot during winter in NYC on a Sony PXW-X70 with no crew, the camera on sticks and only natural light. Gonzalez said the idea was to give each verse a different look, with the chorus being the lightest and pastel and somewhat birdlike with emerald and aqua. The video was then edited and colour corrected using Premiere Pro.

The song and video were both recorded and shot in New York, after which Lisa intended to come back to Australia to promote through radio and live concerts. But then Covid-19 hit and everything turned inwards. Ironically, this was almost the perfect setting for ‘Little Bird’ to flourish, as the song is about overcoming adversity in its many forms. For Richards, it’s a chance to reset in her home country and set about breaking out of obscurity through a series of small concerts conducted in Covid-safe conditions.

Richards just completed producing and recording five new songs in her converted garage/studio space. The first single ‘Houdini’ comes out on June 28th. The artist says it’s a huge thing for her because she always thought she was not capable of doing these things.

“[I thought] that recording and producing was the realm of other people, mostly male people. It was liberating, terrifying, debilitating, exciting and fun”, Richards said.

She is going out to tour her album “I Got A Story” this year. It’s been a bit stop and start because of Covid restrictions and outbreaks. The 5 songs she recorded will soon be released as a nameless EP.

She would like to collaborate with Lorde or Bat for Lashes in the future and her current favourite album is ‘The Best of Nina Simone’. Richards thinks Nina Simone is a woman who really followed her own musical star, her voice is touching and her songwriting is interesting. She thinks Nina is bold, brave and illuminating.

She started a private Facebook group Lisa Richards World a few months ago where she now live streams every weekend. She loves connecting with like minded souls and people who get something out of her music. She is about to choose another 5 songs to record with the support of members of Lisa Richards World. She says she will record them all on a livestream and get people to vote on which are their favourite 5. So, she wants all her fans to come and join Lisa Richards World private group on Facebook.

As a message to her fans, Richards said: “I am so excited that you get some nourishment, joy and connection out of my work. It’s the only reason I do it. My music is not for everyone. Some people hate my voice; they don’t get anything out of my music. So connecting with you people is the high point of my day always”.

Listen to ‘Little Bird’ by Lisa Richards on Youtube and Spotify.

Lisa Richards

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