Blitz caught up with the incredibly talented Lisa Mitchell to chat about her creative inspiration, upcoming tour, and more.
You’re currently on tour in Europe, how is that?
I’ve been supporting a German artist, Fil Bo Riva for the last month through Germany and Austria. There’s been of time on trains, looking at the dark green forests as we whir by. Fillippo and the band are lovely guys, I only wish I knew more German! The shows have been really great. I always see people whisper to their friends when I start to play, ‘Neo Politan Dreams,’ which was on a massive advert campaign here a few years ago.
In June you’ll be back in Australia for your Distant Call Tour with Dustin Tebbutt and Alex the Astronaut, how did this come to be?
I’ve known Dustin and his music for a few years now and we were both in the process of booking Australian shows. When they were touring in Amsterdam a few months ago, I came up in conversation as we have a band member in common, and both of our managers thought it was a great idea to tour together. So, we are sharing a band – too cute! And we have matching outfits! Just joking… but we are collaborating a lot in the show, singing on each other’s songs, and a few special cover moments are in the works. It’s going to be fun!
You’ve come a long way since your Idol days, with your new album Warriors being well received in Australia, peaking in the ARIA Top 10, does releasing new music ever get any easier or less stressful?
I don’t think it ever gets any less stressful, as the essence of releasing your own songs is being vulnerable, and that’s never going to feel good! But, that’s why I love listening to music, and looking at art, because I see a more intimate part of the person, and it opens my heart to them. So, that’s what gives me courage to share my own music.
Can you explain what inspired the first track from Warriors, ‘The Boys’?
It was a hot summer day in Sydney, and I was with a bunch of guy-friends who were about to hang out with a friend because his father had sadly just passed away. I intended to leave them to their ‘boys afternoon’, but we were in a public transport dead-zone (!!), so I ended up just staying. We drove from one beach to another, listened to music, bought some beers and played backyard football after going back to one of their houses. I was the only girl, and it was so interesting for me to see this window into how guys my age act in this kind of situation and how they show support for each other. I was surprised by how light and buoyant their energy was. It definitely cheered our friend up and inspired me to write a song!
What song from the new album was the hardest to release or include in the album? Were there any that you felt were just too personal or you just couldn’t stop reworking?
‘What Is Love?’, was written about meeting a special man who became my partner for a long time, and I was worried it would come across corny, but I am glad it is on there. It is also the only track that is 100% live, just me and the guitar.
What inspires your artistic process when it comes to writing music?
I find inspiration in nearly everything. Even horrible things. Often things I’m scared of, like watching the news, or walking around that street I usually don’t walk down, or going to a gig by myself. Things like that usually inspire me so much, because they shock me into a new perspective. They force me out of my safe shell, ask me to trust the unknown and to look at things from a different angle. I find this process an interesting irony – there has to be a willingness to not think how we usually think – and I think it’s very hard to continue to do this from the comfort of your nice desk, nice chair and nice view. Sometimes you have to sacrifice your rituals, throw yourself into the river of life, let the chaos nearly drown you, and this is what I mean by going to a gig by myself or turning on the news. But, if you have good self discipline you can do this at your desk. My point is, once you have a new perspective it’s easier to play and then sometimes music, songs and art happen like a never-ending spring!
Going back to the upcoming Distant Call Tour, it’s something very different with both of you sharing the stage and collaborating together, instead of having a traditional support act, why did you choose to tour like this?
We actually do have a support act, the amazing Alex the Astronaut! Sharing the band simplifies logistics and adds lots more vibe! I cannot wait.
How did you decide on Distant Call for the tour name?
We were both in different continents when the idea came about (Dustin was touring in The Netherlands) and now we have swapped and I’m in Berlin (writing this and touring here this week) and he’s in Sydney. So it’s just a nod to our troubadour lifestyles and how a lot of the preparation for this has been done via Skype and email!
What’s next for Lisa Mitchell? Is there any new music in the pipeline?
Next for me? Well, just more adventures! I visited Wales over Easter and that was breathtaking, we slept in vans and lit a fire on the beach. There’s talk of spending some time up in Byron Bay too, before I head back to Europe. So I’ll be adventuring, and then starting to record another album.
Dustin Tebbutt & Lisa Mitchell’s Distant Call Tour, hits Sydney on Saturday 10 June at The Factory Theatre.
By Dominic Giannini