Music is Life: An Interview with Lizzie Thomas
Lizzie Thomas and I met in Nashville. We met at a church small group then found out we went to the same school. We bonded over our love of Alanis Morissette (this is what happens in the 90s) and our crazy love for Jesus. Thankfully we’ve lost a whole lot of that crazy along the way. She now lives in New York City and is a jazz singer working on a holiday album. We decided it would be a great time for an interview.
Casey: Hi Lizzie! Thank you for agreeing to this interview, my very first one here. I apologize in advance if it gets completely ridiculous. Let’s get started. What’s your favorite song on this upcoming album?
Lizzie: Santa Baby. It’s whimsical and silly. I’m not thinking about anything except having FUN. It is on the lighter side of jazz and shows my personality. Because of this, it is the title track of the new album.
Casey: Where is/was your favorite place to perform?
Lizzie: My all time favorite place to perform was a place called Oscar. It was a tiny European bar that was so small I didn’t have to use a microphone. My voice could fill up the bar and it was very special. Unfortunately it is closed, but my first album cover was sitting inside the cafe. I met wonderful people there that I’m still very close too.
Casey: What’s the best question you’ve ever been asked?
Lizzie: Are you as romantic as the songs you sing?
Casey: Good one! And are you?
Lizzie: I only sing songs that I connect with and/or have experienced myself. I sing the American songbook, the greatest songs written. I don’t sing the blues, because frankly, I don’t have them. I love witty, sassy love songs that speak to falling in love and being intoxicated with the ones you love. So, yes.
Casey: How do you make the space for creativity in your life?
Lizzie: Creativity comes whenever it wants and I must respond. I take lots of notes and sing into my voice memos a lot. The most important thing I’ve learned about creativity is you have to make time, not just wait on it. Setting aside time to receive is important, yet most of the time you have to get past yourself. What I mean is, you might have to write a terrible song to get to the good stuff. It takes great self acceptance. Yes my voice might sounds like crap today, but I’m getting somewhere in this rehearsal.
Casey: Yes, I totally believe that. Doing the work means sometimes just doing it to get out of our own way at first. The good stuff is there, it will come, it just takes time and work.
Casey: Why jazz?
Lizzie: When I’m performing live that is the place for absolute creativity- that’s why I sing Jazz. The reason I sing jazz is because I can sing the same song for the rest of my life and I will sing it differently every time. Creativity requires freedom and release. A letting go of your personal critic and giving yourself the ability to make a mistake.
Casey: Have you ever played other styles of music?
Lizzie: I used to write my own music and play in alternative indie bands in Nashville. I really enjoyed this phase of musicianship, because I was a member of the band and had to learn how to truly listen to every aspect of the musical moment. Although a great learning experience, I I could not deny my love for the American Songbook and after several years, returned to my great love of Jazz.
Casey: Is it so awesome to be friends with me?
Lizzie: Yes, even though you are completely self-absorbed. You have this ability to step outside of a yourself and listen. You are an observer in the midst of being a participant with the ability to synthesize ideas and get to the heart of the matter. You are curious and a damn good writer without anyone realizing that you’ve been thinking about a topic over and over in your head. Basically, what I’m saying is you make it seem effortless and that’s why we keep reading. Great vocalists carry this same ability.
Casey: Are you sure you want to leave that in there about how I’m so self absorbed?
Lizzie: Ha! I was kidding, but it’s true.
Casey: Yeah, it is. I see myself as a project. I’m always focused on making myself better.
Lizzie: I agree. I see myself the same way.
Casey: One thing I love so much about you is how you make it all look so effortless, so I love that you brought that up. Even though you make it look so easy, I know you do the work. It’s awesome to be friends with you, too. For real.
Thank you Lizzie!
Support Lizzie’s Kickstarter Campaign to help her finish her holiday album, and leave a comment on this post for a chance to win an autographed copy of Lizzie’s last album! I will pick a winner next week and mail the CD along with a picture drawn by Roozle, just to make it even more awesome, since Roozle’s middle name is Elizabeth, named after Lizzie.
Fancy photos by Marian Obolewicz, used with permission.