STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE: Your new album, A SIMPLE TRICK TO HAPPINESS, is just about to be released. How are you feeling about the album and the reaction so far?
LISA LOEB: I’m so proud, to see my new album being so incredibly well-received. People seem to be relating to it in a big way, and have also mentioned that they especially like the modern production of it. It very much sounds like me, intimate and personal, but yet it’s something new and different.
SPAZ: When you began recording the album, did you have a clear idea on what you wanted the album to sound like or did everything just evolve organically?
LISA: I was more focused on telling personal stories and including wisdom I’ve learned from these experiences, and the sound, style, and production followed.
SPAZ: A SIMPLE TRICK TO HAPPINESS is a fantastic collection of songs that travel down many different musical avenues. As an artist, do you enjoy challenging yourself, creating different soundscapes to convey the feelings of your lyrics?
LISA: I love challenging myself to come up with something original, but sometimes it means doing something that hearkens back to something classic. The songs really set the direction of the recordings. I think it’s more important to let each song and what it wants to express be the leader, but luckily, on this latest album, A SIMPLE TRICK TO HAPPINESS, we were able to craft sonic spaces and arrangements that also take the listener to a variety of places.
SPAZ: What inspired this batch of songs? Or were they written independently of each other and just seemed to fit together for this project?
LISA: All of the songs were intentionally written close to the recording of the album. It was really important to me to write songs that captured what is going on in my life now. I feel that I connect to the songs more that way, and the audience seems to connect when I approach writing this way. The one song that wasn’t written during the process is “Sing Out,” which was written for a Nashville Pride event, and it means so much to me that I wanted to include it in this body of work. It’s a song about unabashedly being yourself and celebrating all that you are, while acknowledging the difficulty you can have doing that.
SPAZ: While some songwriters stick to a ‘formula’, you approach songwriting differently. The basic song structures vary from song to song. Has this always been your ‘modus operandi’ or do you feel that your songwriting has evolved over time?
LISA: Although I want the songs to fit together as a body of work, within that, it’s always important to me to have a lot of variation from song to song. That’s always been my way. I’m more focused on telling a direct story from personal experience than I have ever been, but that variety has also been an underlying element that also must be there.
SPAZ: Lyrically, the album really hits an emotional nerve with your attention to detail – particularly the small things in life (“I miss you most of all when it starts to rain and there’s no umbrella in the car”). As a songwriter, how does it feel to know that your songs have a profound emotional effect on people?
LISA: I feel that connection with the audience when I play my songs live. It means so much to me, and the closer I get to expressing myself personally, the more the songs really connect. It’s truly amazing that I get to spend my time and creative energy and work focusing on telling the sometimes small stories that mean so much to all of us.
SPAZ: You’ve also released ‘family friendly’ albums (and won a Grammy for 2016’s FEEL WHAT U FEEL). Has your approach to your mainstream ‘adult’ albums changed since you’ve ventured into the children’s music field? Are you now more conscious of your lyrics even though you are writing for a different audience?
LISA: My albums have become more varied in my song topics – less songs about romantic love, and more songs about the other elements of daily life and other kinds of relationships. Also, because of my shift into mostly collaborations, I’ve been able to grab onto being able to be a little more direct in my songwriting. My goal has grown over the years from making abstract songs to making songs people can feel and understand right away, while continuing to craft and use poetic coloring and metaphor.
SPAZ: Is there a song on A SIMPLE TRICK TO HAPPINESS that you feel is the perfect ‘gateway’ track – the one song that encapsulates the overall mood and feel of the album?
LISA: I feel like the songs are so varied from song to song, that it’s really hard to choose one. It’s like telling someone the dessert or just the pretzel bread will tell the story of the entire meal. It’s how the songs relate to each other, the sequence, the different tempos and rhythms and harmonies.
SPAZ: Can listeners expect you to reveal the ‘simple trick to happiness’ somewhere on the album?
LISA: I think listeners will find some of the simple tricks to happiness just by listening. I find that when I connect with others and have experiences that relate to others, I feel more alive, more engaged, and happier overall. Those are the kinds of songs that are on this album.
SPAZ: What’s next for Lisa Loeb?
LISA: I’m writing more songs, making more albums, touring, and sharing lots of simple tricks that you’ll be able to find with some interesting things I’m working on that will soon be released online!
SPAZ: What are you currently spinning on your record and/or CD players?
LISA: I’m listening to lots of music that friends have given me along the way. Also, a lot of Lizzo!
Thanks to Lisa Loeb
Extra thanks to Steve Dixon and Dave Rayburn
A SIMPLE TRICK TO HAPPINESS