Auckland songwriter Lisa Crawley is back in Aotearoa after five years in Melbourne with her very catchy new single ‘Girl With No Name‘ and upcoming theatre production Once, a musical directed by Jesse Peach co-starring Crawley (aptly playing the role of ‘Girl’) alongside Priya Sami (Trip Pony), Jackie Clarke and Adam Ogle. Produced by Joel Quartermain, the multi-talented artist’s infectious song is accompanied by a self-directed video we’re stoked to premiere here, a love letter to the sights and sounds of the city she’s recently waved goodbye to for now, beautifully filmed by Martí Folch Bot. Crawley shared her thoughts around the introspective themes of her latest anthem – enjoy the clip below, along with a stripped back piano / vocal version of ‘Girl With No Name’ recorded live at Alberta, Canada’s Banff Centre, and scroll down for our short chat with the artist via email about her video, upcoming musical plans and the secrets behind her mysterious ‘Q-chord’…
What ideas are you exploring with ‘Girl With No Name’ and how did your video with Martí Folch Bot take shape?
Girl With No Name’ is about recognising self-deprecating behaviour, and being determined to get away from that pattern of negative thinking – in whatever capacity that may be, professionally or in relationships etc. I genuinely love collaborating and playing with other people and have learnt so much from that. Retrospectively, at times I have often found it easier and less confronting to back someone else than pursue my own thing and felt inferior with my own work, so for me it’s about reminding myself that as much as I love working with all sorts of people I have something to offer and say as an artist in my own right.
The video was very DIY – just me and a friend with one camera in Melbourne, which is where I was based for the last five years. The shots were quite spontaneous and unplanned, lots of wandering round the city showing my friend some of my favourite spots. The main singing to camera shot was actually me sitting in an empty bathtub eating fries at a Berlin themed cocktail-bar, where they play old movies that are also featured in some shots. I love arcade games – whenever I travel I will always google the best video game bars, and knew this particular arcade in Melbourne had the largest Pacman in Australasia so wanted to show my friend and also get my name in the top ten scores.
I was packing up my life in Melbourne around that time late last year, and although I’ve shot a few music videos while living in Melbourne, none were obviously ‘in Melbourne’, so I’m glad to have captured some of the city before I left. I also realised I didn’t have many videos where I’m actually playing an in instrument – the shots of the piano and Q-chord were filmed at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, where I recently completed a five week Musicians in Residence programme in minus thirty-one degree weather.The Banff Centre is an extremely resourceful campus with (amongst pretty much anything you would ever need as a musician or visual artist), ninety Steinway grand pianos on site, one of which I filmed a piano/vocal version of the song as well as a piano/vocal EP of some of my favourite songs that I’ll release later on in May.
What are you up to back in Auckland, and what is Once? Will there be any more live shows on the cards anytime soon?
Once first came out as a film starring Glen Hansard (The Frames) and Marteka Irglova, and was then adapted to become a musical. It’s only a small cast, about ten of us, and everyone in the cast plays an instrument on stage. Jesse Peach is the director, and the cast also includes Priya Sami, Adam Ogle and Jackie Clarke. I had always loved the movie and saw the musical in Melbourne, so when I saw the audition notice online I auditioned via Skype from a hut in the snow while in Banff and landed the role of ‘GIRL’, an absolute dream role for me!
My Banff residency finished in February, so from there I’ve been writing and recording in LA. I’ve written and recorded a bunch of new songs with producer Rob Kleiner, and have experienced the ‘co-writing world’ with various artists which was lots of fun and quite an eye opening experience. I’ve come back to Auckland for the show and to finish off my third album with some of my favourite people which due for release later this year!
I’ll definitely be doing some shows of my own material, both solo and with a band, and most likely hosting some ‘Piano Karaoke’ nights – ‘She Plays, You Sing’ a side project I’ve been running for the last four years as a residency and for parties etc. I have a list of around a thousand songs and anyone in the audience come up and sing – and like ‘real’ karaoke, I’m the backing track, creepy backing vocals and all. It’s a great way to use a different part of my brain and I’ve always loved playing for other artists and encourage others who have never sung in public. I’ll also keep working with Bullet Heart Club (Daffodils) on our show ‘Elizabeth’. Lots to do!
What the heck is your signature ‘Q-chord’?
The Q-chord is a digital auto-harp / version of an omnichord made by Suzuki which I’ve taken with me on my travels, which caused a bit of controversy at the airport. I’m sure if they heard the lo-fi bossa beats and cheesy midi demos of Beatles tunes, they’d know it was not going to be a threat or something that was going to earn me millions of dollars (not yet, anyway). They declined an airport performance. It’s great for travelling, I did a few Q-chord performances in caves and Canyons while travelling through America. I was without a keyboard for awhile so became my go to! The speaker has blown, so if anyone knows how to fix it, please get in touch…!