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Q&A with Liz Loughrey

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Liz Loughrey

Photo: Matt Barnes

Liz Loughrey shot to online fame with her personal takes on Top 40 pop songs, moving confidently beyond internet-phenom working with renowned Toronto producer/musician Adrian X (The Weeknd, Drake). A classically-trained pop/soul vocalist, she’s influenced by equal parts Etta James and Amy Winehouse and her voice belies the old-soul’s young age. We are excited to present her at the Rivoli on April 7.

What was the first concert you attended?

Kanye West’s All of the Lights tour.

First concert that made a deep impression on you?

The last Lenny Kravitz show I saw. Musically, it was pristine. The message behind his performance, it was deeply rooted, really uniting people. The inclusive energy of the show was contagious.

First album that you bought?

Brittney Spears - …Baby One More Time.That was my childhood, big pop records. I got Thriller right after: My parents had that on vinyl, and I bought the CD.

What artist made you want to do what you do?

The big one is Sade. Her whole approach to her career – the music-first approach is one I really like. She’s got such integrity as an artist, and as a woman, and embodies a lot of qualities that I aspire to have.

What are your musical influences?

Sade, of course. But also Alicia Keys’ piano and powerhouse vocals is a real inspiration. So is Coldplay, and Seal for his really relatable lyrics.

What is your Massey Hall moment?

I’ll be honest: I’ve never been. But I’ve been saying for the past couple years that I can’t wait to sing there.

What music were you listening to on the way to the shoot?

We were listening to reggae.

What will you listen to on your way from the shoot?

I’m definitely going to put on some Sade remixes that Jo Jo Flores did —some really cool deep house remixes that I’ve been into.

Tell us about a memorably amazing onstage experience you’ve had.

The last show at the Drake Hotel had lots of memorable moments. Sometimes I’m in my own world performing, but for the first time I remember really feeling – and being able to see – how the music was really captivating and affecting the audience. I was able to experience it with them, and not just on my own. I had a kind of epiphany moment at that show. I felt that people were really and truly invited into my world so that we could share the experience together.

Tell us about a memorably ridiculous onstage experience you’ve had.

I think that the reactions people have when Adrian and I are playing as an acoustic guitar duo is sometimes strange. Like when people slow-dance to us doing “Sweet Child O’ Mine” or Ed Sheeran songs – or the heavy dancing people do. It’s just not something I’d expect to happen with an acoustic setup.

What do you hope people take away from your music?

I hope that people feel like they’re a part of something. That the music uplifts them, and inspires them to reach out to others in new ways. Music has the power to unite people and to make people question how they live their lives – in a good way. I want my music to have that.

Adrian X: You can see when people come up to Liz after her shows, that she’s clearly had a transformative impression on them. They say things like ‘I’m going to go home and create now!’

Adrian calls it ‘the sonic hug’ – I want people to feel that embrace.

What’s the best thing about doing what you do?

That if this is my life, I’ll never feel like I’ve worked a day. This is what I eat, sleep and breathe; it’s what I believe I was put on the planet to do, and I have so much fun doing it. And that goes for every facet of the business: the music, videos, fashion, instruments. There are so many amazing facets of the industry you get to be a part of.

What’s the hardest thing about doing what you do?

The patience required. Doing this has really taught me patience, because you have to be able to keep at it. It also teaches you how to stay true to yourself; as I discover who I am and what I’m about, music has definitely provided a way to figure it all out. Staying true to yourself is hard in a changing industry.

What do people most frequently misunderstand or under-appreciate about what you do?

I think that people see a finished product — a song, a video, a show — and don’t fully understand how much has gone into getting there. I may not be performing at the Molson Amphitheatre – yet! – but so much goes into every performance, and not just from me, but from the whole team, and from Adrian in particular. It’s hard to get people’s attention, so the support is key.

Adrian: People also look at Liz and because of how mature show is, they are always surprised by how young she is. People try to keep you down if they know you’re young, so it’s important to get over that.

I was raised in an environment, I guess, where I grew up faster and was taught to carry myself in a mature way. When people find out how old you are, there’s suddenly a disconnect: But age doesn’t represent how prepared you are.

Adrian: It just demonstrates all of the preparations that Liz has made, all the training; she’s done everything on her own, and the hope is for young people to know that, to inspire them to work harder. People need to hear that you can do things on your own as a young person.

The theme of this issue is renewal. How do you keep things fresh? What are the challenges of that?

The concept of renewal is one I apply to my life every day. I wake up and meditate first thing, on the things I’m thankful for, and to put the day in perspective. I love that every day is different: I’ll meet new people, do new things – like sit on a swing for a photo shoot! With songwriting, to keep the songs new and fresh, I have to take initiative; it’s important to do research, listen to people you’ve never heard before, and speak to people with different perspectives. That gets filtered into making things new. We are the makers of the new.

What’s ahead for you this year?

We’re about the head to LA, but we’re taking the long way there: We’re going to drive out, to switch things up; stop along the way, and watch the landscape change. I’m going to do yoga at the Grand Canyon. But the key is to experience physically moving from point A to point B: To appreciate the destination even more, and as inspiration for the recording and the performances on the trip – and after. I’m going to be blogging, to keep people in the loop, but also for myself: To document it, and be sure to not forget what goes on.

So it’s more a trip than a tour.

What are you most looking forward to in 2016?

I’m most looking forward to performing on new stages in new cities. Because being onstage performing is where my heart is.