Both Philly and PHILTHY are longtime fans of Elizabeth & the Catapult, the musical moniker of singer, songwriter, pianist, and guitarist Elizabeth Ziman. Elizabeth has played the city countless times over the past seven years (a plethora of Free at Noons; many, many nights at The Tin Angel; slots supporting the likes of Lenka, Greg Laswell, Katie Herzig, Kishi Bashi, and even Sara Bareilles; in addition to probably a relatively large handful of performances escaping me at the moment.) The sounds of her first three LPs fluctuate between jazzy piano pop, ultra-quirky folk, and ten-ton-truck balladry. Well, Ms. Ziman is currently working on a very successful Pledge Music campaign in order to fund her fourth full-length. And while she’s already beyond her goal, she still has some really cool stuff up for auction, including a house party, a customized song with your name in it, and the chance to have your name in the album’s liner notes. In addition, Elizabeth & the Catapult will be playing three mid-Atlantic shows this week, including a stop at Baltimore’s Metro Gallery tonight (2/3); a Thursday (2/4) show at the Avalon Theatre in Easton, MD; and a Friday night (2/5) gig at our very own Tin Angel… And the always charming and always gracious Elizabeth Ziman took some time to chat with me yesterday about what’s currently going on in her world and some of her favorite memories from throughout the years.
Izzy Cihak: So it’s obvious that we totally love you here in Philly and it seems like you’ve played here like a hundred times, so I’m curious if you have any favorite memories of playing, or just being, in the city.
Elizabeth Ziman: I have a lot of love for Philly, I think my favorite show was opening for Kishi Bashi in the Unitarian church in 2014. The acoustics were incredible and I loved the energy of the audience. Also K was stage diving in a church, so that’s always fun.
Izzy: And on a similar note, when Elizabeth & the Catapult was first starting out it seemed like we saw you here on a super regular basis, and thinking about the timeline now I’m realizing that was like seven years ago, so not to ask a super general question, but: What have been some of the highlights of your career so far? You’ve played with tons of amazing people and had your music wind up in some really interesting places. Any particular favorite experiences?
Elizabeth: That’s a really difficult question as I’ve done so many different things within the business over the last seven years but highlights would definitely be playing Madison Square Garden last year opening for Sara Bareilles (can’t beat that really) and just now having a film for a score I composed (with Paul Brill) get into Sundance. (Check out TRAPPED.)
Izzy: It seems like whenever we chat we wind up talking about cinema. So not to detract from your own work, but have you seen anything recently that you found especially impressive or that you think is especially worth our readers’ time?
Elizabeth: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, the Iranian vampire flick by director Ana Lily Amirpour – really impressed me. It combined all my favorite elements of a dark comedy– Jim Jarmuschy with a touch of Tom Waits 🙂 So beautiful and stylized, great script, performances and directing. I’m pretty sure Amirpour is going to go on to be a big deal in the film world.
Izzy: So I know you’re currently working on another Pledge Music campaign, which seems to be going very well. Would you care to tell our readers about that? I have to say that you seem to offer not only some of the cooler things I’ve seen in things like this, but also some of the most reasonably priced, considering what people can potentially get.
Elizabeth: Yes! It’s pretty amazing, we’ve reached 125% of our goal. Pledge and Kickstarter are such great platforms – I’m always behind artists raising money in this way — my favorite prizes we’re offering are either the lullabies (I write and record for you.) or the illustrated lyric book my friend Kimi Mongello is putting together for me. She’s a good friend and great artist.
Izzy: How would you characterize your recent sounds? What have been your most significant influences recently?
Elizabeth: I’ve been listening to more classical music lately. Debussy, Ravel, Nico Muhly – there’s definitely more classical influences in my solo piano songs on this record.
Izzy: I love that you do so well in all of my regions. I’ve been in Philly for 12+ years, but grew up hanging out in Baltimore, DC, and Northern Virginia, so it’s awesome that you keep coming back to those places. What can be expected on your upcoming live dates, both in terms of the setlist and just the general vibe of the evening? Any small chance we might hear “The Horse and the Missing Cart”? That song holds a super duper special place in my heart, but I know it’s rare that it makes live appearances.
Elizabeth: Oooh! We’ll see about that song (It’s basically a book of lyrics so I can never remember all of them.) – I’ll be coming back to Philly with my band and maybe even having a special guest appearance from one of my favorite Philly musicians, Tom Deis (Via Audio, Uni Ika Ai).
Izzy: Actually, depending on how long you’re in town, you should look at the schedule for The Charles Theater in Baltimore, which is the best movie theater in the city and is directly across the street from where you’re playing… Also, John Waters hangs out there a lot, so that’s pretty cool, too…
Elizabeth: Wow – maybe I’ll get lucky!
Izzy: Finally, in addition to your new album, what are you most excited about in 2016 ?
Elizabeth: I’m excited about the Sundance film I spoke of earlier having its premiere and hitting theaters. The movie is about the abortion clinics that are fighting to stay open in the south right now. It’s been an incredibly difficult challenge for the few clinics that are left out there… The issue over abortion rights is going to the supreme court in March so hopefully more people will see this movie and get a discussion going before then. Thanks for the interview, great questions.