It was roughly year ago when Liza Anne Odachowski – a.k.a. Liza Anne – released her debut album, The Colder Months. It was a minimalist, folk-focused record that, despite its simplicity, was deeply personal and moving. But like many young singer-songwriters who constantly wish to challenge themselves and push the envelope, the album didn’t feel complete for Liza Anne. It took a journey overseas to capture the singer-songwriter’s imagination and challenge the way she heard and eventually play music. The trip to London, in particular, opened her mind to new possibilities and provided her with the motivation to quickly write and record a new record.
In early May of this past year, Liza Anne released TWO, a fantastic follow up that exceeded her debut. It was lush and dream. It hit harder sonically and lyrically. It’s one of the surprises of the first half of 2015 – an album that continues to impressive us. To understand more of the Nashville-based artist’s growth and influences, I had an opportunity to chat with her quickly. Besides the music, the most startling element of the interview was her age because her sound and poignant songwriting are things you expect to hear from a seasoned musician.
One-on-One with Liza Anne
Thanks so much for agreeing to speak with me. I have to get a couple of silly tombstone questions out of the way. First, is Anne your middle name and why not go with your full name?
Yes, Anne is a middle name. My last name is Odachowski, so I’d get annoyed if people said it wrong all the time. It’s pronounced as it sounds, but people seem to be thrown off by how many letters are there.
Next, are you seriously only 21 years old?
Yes. Only just turned 21 in February.
Cool. What I find pretty remarkable is that in the past two years, you’ve released two albums. So I have to ask, how old were you when started songwriting? Are any of your initial songs on any of these albums?
I guess I started writing when I was 8 – journal entries, poetry and emotional rants. I’ve always been pretty inside my head. I learned how to play guitar around 13, so that’s when I started putting them to song. None of my initial songs are on albums, no – I wasn’t creating the same as I am now. Maybe there will be a time to revisit them, but they’re wildly depressing – even more so than now it seems.
Some of the lyrics are on the album are very emotional, even somewhat depressing, such as on “Room”. Is songwriting for you, then, a means to channel those deep emotions from within?
Musically, at what age did you start playing an instrument? Was the guitar the first instrument you picked up? And what song do you remember first playing?
Around 13, I guess. I took piano and guitar as a child and hated them both. Then around 13 or 14, my uncle encouraged me to start playing and something about it then seemed magic. The first thing I played was Hilary Duff’s “Come Clean”. If you want me to be completely honest, I’m a big fan and still that way.
In the short time between your two albums, your sound changed from the folk-focused The Colder Months to the haunting, almost brooding indie folk-rock of Two. Between those albums, I understand you traveled to Europe. How did your trip to Europe last year influence what you wrote on TWO? Besides hearing the sounds of the London underground on the last track, “Ocean”, were there other events or even sounds you heard that inspired you to go in this dreamy, brooding direction?
Everything about the last 12 months of my life changed the way I created, but mostly because it changed the way I saw the world. The things I listened to changed, my relationships with people totally shifted – I became a new person through traveling. So, I think TWO is just a catalogue of that change. A widened view of things, per say.
As far as sonically maturing, I think everyone grows into different things between and during projects. The Colder Months was a confident step one, but I feel completely at home playing TWO, in a way I haven’t felt before. I’m excited to keep experimenting and playing with sound.
Besides that trip, are there any current songwriters and musicians who have influenced your style and sound?
I can’t get enough of Sharon Van Etten. I recently got to see her perform in a Madewell in a suburban shopping mall in Nashville – strangest venue to be completely wrecking by someone’s sorrowful songs, but it was perfect.
I guess she’d be a newer influence on things, but then there’s always the classics: The Cranberries, Feist, Daughter, Keaton Henson – the ones I’ve been listening to longer.
Final question before we head to the Feedback section, what plans do you have in store in the coming months? Tour? Another album?
Both, I hope. I’m playing a few shows in Europe this summer to support TWO and then planning for shows in the States for the early fall. I’ve already begun writing for the next project, but I’m excited to give TWO it’s time.
Photo by Austin Lord
I want to move here. They have trains!
I live here now. It’s getting to be too busy for the small town it’s wanting to be, and I wish it had trains.
My proudest moment, thus far.
Big hair. Pretty voice. Adopt me, please!
Johnny Cash forever and ever, amen.
The only thing keeping me sane.
The Yellow Brick Road
Red shoes. A small dog in a basket. Scary monkeys. A witch with a wart on her nose. And for some reason, I’m picturing my math teacher from middle school. Woops!
Happiness, which I guess that means breakfast potatoes. Not mad about that.
Will be Saturday, and I’ll spend it watching Orange Is the New Black.
Cover photo by Austin Lord
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