Elizabeth & the Catapult: My Second Favorite Elizabeth

All of my loyal readers, friends, and lovers are well-aware that Elizabeth & the Catapult is my favorite musical project of the past several years (and those especially close...

All of my loyal readers, friends, and lovers are well-aware that Elizabeth & the Catapult is my favorite musical project of the past several years (and those especially close know that, in recent years, Elizabeth and I have gotten to be buddies of sorts).  However, Philthy has only gotten relatively small murmurings of mine on Elizabeth, whether it be the suggestion of an all ages concert or a mention alongside a Lenka interview.  This is the first article dedicated exclusively to Elizabeth Ziman and her Catapult, my favorite singer/songwriter.

This Monday Elizabeth & the Catapult played their biggest Philadelphia show yet at the Electric Factory, opening for Sara Bareilles, a close friend of hers (And whose stage set resembled a KISS setup.)  Her set was only twenty-minutes and the audience was largely comprised of sixteen-year-olds, but they seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves… they even enjoyed voluntarily participating in handclaps accompanying “Race You” and “Go Away My Lover” (That is the benefit of an all ages crowd.)

Although quite abbreviated, Elizabeth & the Catapult’s set this Monday did, somehow, manage to convey almost all of Ms. Ziman’s beauty and brilliance in those twenty minutes.  In an always-ballsy move Ziman actually opened with a ballad, yet she still managed to both silence and captivate the several thousand in attendance.  And what was this song?  Well, it was actually a couple of verses of “Apathy,” seamlessly segueing into a few verses of “Thank You For Nothing,” two ineffably lo-fi songs that manage to hit like a ten-ton truck of sentimentality.  For the next three numbers she was accompanied by her current band, for some of her livelier sounds, including “Taller Children,” her most adrenaline-addled song, which had her shimmying (which I’ve never seen of her) like the Boho diva that she could be in a heartbeat, if her heart so desired.  And the set ended with Elizabeth, once again solo, doing her take on Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows,” which got a deafening response.

I chatted to Elizabeth the day after her biggest Philadelphia performance to date to get her take on the experience (among other things).  Here’s what she had to say.

Izzy Cihak: The Catapult has recently gone through a lot of changes, most notably in the lineup itself.  What’s been going on and what led to these changes?

Elizabeth Ziman: Just being inspired by different people. The two original members of my band, Danny and Pete, have a new project together called Lucius which is really, really cool- they have a new record coming out soon! I’m very psyched about the folks I’m playing with right now.  I draw a lot of inspiration from the people I surround myself with- so it’s important to keep that inspiration fresh and dynamic.

IC: When you were in Philadelphia this June you played a lot of new songs.  How would you describe your new sound?

EZ: Live, it’s a lot more rhythmic, because I love dancing around on stage and not being tethered to an instrument when I sing.  Otherwise, it’s just new songs, new sentiments, new experiences, etc.

IC: How was touring with Lenka?  I’ve been telling everyone that it was the best bill of the year.

EZ: She’s a badass. That pretty much sums it up. And great to party with, too.

IC: You tend to play covers fairly frequently during your live shows.  Which ones seem to get the biggest responses?

EZ: “Everybody Knows” got a great response on this last tour with Sara Bareilles, which I appreciate, because it means that my fans have good taste.

IC: Brooklyn obviously has a huge music scene.  Do you have any particular favorite artists from your area?

EZ: I love St Vincent. I love Grizzly Bear. I love Josh Mease.

IC: You’re currently on tour with Sara Bareilles, whom you’ve toured with in the past.  What is the relationship between the two of you and how did it come about?

EZ: I adore Sara.  She’s so talented and so humble and such a fun-loving gal to hang out with. I met her through my friend, Laura Jansen, at the Hotel Cafe. Before I really knew her I asked her if I could stay at her couch when I was out there making a record and she said “yes.” The rest is history.

IC: What did you think of your recent Philadelphia performance at the Electric Factory?  It seemed to be the biggest and most enthusiastic local audience you’ve played to thus far.

EZ: That Place is HUUUUGE! I couldn’t believe how many fans were there. Was it 3000 people?   It was obviously a huge honor and a thrill to be playing for that many enthusiastic fans.

IC: For the show you wore a fabulous pair of bell-bottoms.  What is it about flares that makes them so much greater than straight-leg pants (They definitely are.)?

EZ: I think they just look better on my frame. But maybe the movie Hair?

IC: So you seem to be really into cinema.  Any great films that you’ve seen recently that you’d like to let our readers know about?

EZ: I loved that new movie about A Tribe Called Quest and the inner workings of their band. It was a great story and told in a very artful way.

*In case you hadn’t guessed, my first-favorite Elizabeth is Philthy’s own Elizabeth Andrea.


Band Interviews

During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.