Lizanne Richards has just released her self-titled debut album and it is just one of two ‘babies’ the Melbourne-based singer has given birth to recently. “I ended up getting pregnant around the time that I finished the album,” she tells me. “And then thought ‘well, I’ll have my baby and then I’ll release it after that’ and that’s what I’ve done so in a way the gestation period, from beginning to end of it being released, has made the wait a bit longer.” Well, I think that’s a pretty good excuse for delaying the release of the album. “I think so as well,” she agrees. “In a way, I feel really happy that I’ve still achieved it, given the extra challenges of fitting it in with a baby. She is nine months old now and the album has been completed and was launched a few weeks ago at The Bella Union in Melbourne. I just knew that I had to grab the bull by the horns this year and do everything I could to release the album properly. I didn’t want it to become this ‘thing’ that I did and didn’t finish. I’m really happy that it’s out there and properly released. I have been working on this album for probably about a year up til the recording when I decided ‘Right! I’m going to actually make this album!’”
The daughter of missionary parents on the edge of the Sahara in Niger, Africa, Lizanne’s childhood was a little out of the ordinary, to say the least. The exposure to such different cultures during her youth has impacted greatly on her life and her view of her surroundings. She has memories of singing gospel songs with the local women at church and accompanying them on traditional clay drums.
She later spent time living and teaching in the U.K. and eventually found herself playing violin in a Glasgow-based band called Oldsolar. The experience whetted her appetite for more and after a while, Lizanne came back to Melbourne and pursued another musical project on her return. After recording a demo of her songs with Johnny Hi-Fi, she formed Lady Grey whose self-titled first EP won them a place in the 2006 PBS FM Festival of Song Competition and they made it to the grand finals.
The singer feels blessed that she had a producer like Shane O’Mara working on the album. “I felt really lucky to work with him,” she says. “I did this song writing mentorship which led me to him in a way. I had a couple of songs that I played for the mentors and I asked each of them who they thought would be best for me to produce the album and they all said ‘Shane O’Mara’ individually. I had my eye on him anyway as a producer but what they provided was a link to him so I was able to approach him and send him some stuff. And it kind of went from there. I had my eye on him before. I really did want to work with a producer. I like the process of collaboration and what comes from that when you’ve got two minds working on something rather than just doing it by yourself.” The recording also boasts some wonderful musicians, including drummer and percussionist Ralf Rehak; Jorge Rodrigues on electric bass; Bruce Haymes on keyboards and Ray Pereira on percussion.
The album is a mixture of jazz, blues and alternative folk and Lizanne has drawn her inspiration for the songs on this album from a mixture of her own personal experiences and observing the experiences of those around her. “Three (songs) deal with relationship breakups and they are either my own that I’ve had or me observing another breakup so for instance ‘Stuck on You’ is me observing a marriage breakup of someone that I know and kind of wondering what it would be like from his perspective and then the other songs are actually quite varied in what they’re about. ‘Of the Sea’ is about when you’re 23, off overseas and branching out in the world and maybe a bit naïve and so it’s me thinking back to that time in my life when I was just a girl of 23 looking for something to do and see and then ‘Hands Up’ is a song about my relationship pursuing music. It’s a love/hate thing because any project that you’ve got to push along of your own accord, I suppose you’ve really got to dig deep to make it happen. There’s no one requiring it of you so you really just have to want to do it and I suppose you have to be a little bit insane to make it all happen.”
by Sharyn Hamey
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