Chicago-based Americana singer/songwriter/guitarist Elizabeth Moen seems to be familiar with a lot of friends of PHILTHY… She’s shared stages with the likes of Margaret Glaspy, Lissie, and Buck Meek, and even performed as a guitarist for Squirrel Flower in 2021… And last year Moen released Wherever You Aren’t, her third LP, which has been receiving praise from the likes of Paste and American Songwriter. She’s going to be bringing her latest sounds to MilkBoy this coming Wednesday, April 26th, and she recently took some time to talk to me about the album, playing live, and some of her favorite cities. Read what she had to tell me, pick up tickets below, and check out her music videos for recent singles “Emotionally Available” and “Sorry That I Love You.”
Izzy Cihak: I know that you said you’re in the middle of a few exceptionally crazy weeks. What are you currently up to?
Elizabeth Moen: Preparing for tour, writing, rehearsing, getting a covers EP ready for release, and some side hustle work that I do to pay for tour. Sometimes I think I’m not busy and realize a lot of things are piled up into a week!
Izzy: Your latest album, Wherever You Aren’t, dropped toward the end of last year. Have you had any favorite reactions to it?
Elizabeth: I love hearing what songs hit who and why. The title track, “Wherever You Aren’t,” has been hitting a lot of people lately in regard to breakups and I think it’s important to feel those feels in order to really move on.
Izzy: How do you think the album compares to previous releases, both in terms of sound and your process of writing and recording it?
Elizabeth: This album was so much more thoughtful and time consuming. It took literal years, and I spent a lot more time and money on the recording time and release itself. I wanted it to sound bigger and the songwriting to be more cohesive and thoughtful.
Izzy: Last year you released a really cool music video for “Emotionally Available.” How did the concept for that video come about, and how was actually shooting it?
Elizabeth: The concept came from the director, Maren Celeste. They’re a fantastic artist of many mediums. They wanted it to show both sides of the song. The soft, sultry sides and the more angry, chaotic sides with the differences in the lighting, costumes, etc.
Izzy: I know that you went to the University of Iowa and your musical career kind of got its start in Iowa City. My cousin actually went there, so I’m curious how that music scene was for you. I have to admit, living in the mid-Atlantic my whole life, I kind of don’t have any sense of music in places like that.
Elizabeth: Whoa! Small world. Everyone seems to have at least one connection to Iowa, which always makes me happy. I love Iowa. The scene is tiny but mighty. It’s a college town, so very transient. A lot of artists, myself included, come and go but nurture the beginnings of their process and career there. Iowa City is an exceptional place.
Izzy: You’ve had songs appear in several television series and movies. Are there any that you’re especially proud of, and are there any places you dream of having your songs wind up one day?
Elizabeth: My most recent placement was special because it was in a scene where a character sings the song for a karaoke moment. The actress sang “Songbird” so well and it was cool to see it in that context and on TV! My biggest bucket list item is writing an original song for a movie that gets an Oscar nom for it. I’ve dreamed of that even before I wrote my own music.
Izzy: I know you played with Squirrel Flower recently, who is one of my favorite artists. How is it working with Ella? I’m assuming the two of you are Chicago buddies.
Elizabeth: Ella is a dream. Her music is so good and so fun to play. She’s kind and sweet. A lovely person on top of being a musical icon. 🙂 <3
Izzy: You’re going to be playing our very own MilkBoy next week. What can be expected of the live show?
Elizbeth: We are gonna do our best to rock your socks off. My songs sound the best when they’re with a band. We’re trying brand new ones I’m really excited about. The set feels like it hits all the edges of the musical styles I write in and the harmonies sound really lovely. 🙂
Izzy: It seems like most of your shows are split between listening rooms and barrooms (Is that true?) Do you have a favorite kind of setting to play, or one that you feel like best fits your sound and live show?
Elizabeth: Both are great. I like the energy of a bar but listening rooms are my favorite. I love how the quiet of the room makes it all feel so intimate. The energy between the band and listeners is extremely close and symbiotic.
Izzy: As a follow-up, do you have any all-time favorite shows you’ve played, whether because the setting was super cool, the crowd and vibe was just amazing, or you got to share a stage with an artist that you totally love?
Elizabeth: My last shows in Chicago were really special. I had a twelve-piece band and Audiotree recorded it (It’s on their YouTube now!) Whelan’s in Dublin, Ireland is always a great time. It’s the perfect mix of listening and barroom energy and my Irish bandmates are some of my best friends. I love getting to play with them when I can!
Izzy: Not to detract from your music, but you have a really amazing sense of fashion. Who are some of your style icons, if that’s even the kind of thing you pay attention to?
Elizabeth: Wow, thank you! Style icons would be Bruce Springsteen? I have no clue really. Most people are an inspiration to me, but he always elevates a classic look. Jeans and a tee and confidence go a long way. I try to go with my gut, not spend a lot of money, and think of color palettes and fabric textures when I’m putting outfits together. Luckily, my bandmates are really stylish and always look cool as hell so what they bring to wear on stage inspires me too.
Izzy: Finally, what’s next for you? How are you hoping and planning to spend the rest of 2023?
Elizabeth: There are some exciting shows I can’t announce yet…. but this year will be full of touring and figuring out this next record… 🙂
*Get your tickets here.