Although Lisa Crawley may not quite be a marquee name in America, there’s a reasonable chance that you’ve heard her music featured in shows like Nancy Drew, Good Trouble, and Stumptown in recent years. However, the New Zealand-born indie pop singer/songwriter, who recently relocated to Los Angeles, has been at it for well over a decade now. She’s collaborated with the likes of Tim Finn, Greg Johnson, and Hugo Race and opened for artists like Suzanne Vega, John Mayer, and Paul Weller. She’s even spent some time working in musical theater, co-writing Elizabeth and recently starring in Tony-Award-winner, ONCE. For the past year or so, she has been making music with Grammy-nominated writer and producer Rob Kleiner, known for his work with David Guetta and Sia. Last month Lisa Crawley released single “The Right Way,” along with an accompanying video. The song comes from her forthcoming EP, Looking For Love (In A Major), due out July 23rd. She recently took some time to talk to me about her past year and a half in America.
Izzy Cihak: I understand you moved to Los Angeles not that long ago. How has that been so far? Or, with the pandemic, is it still too early to tell?
Lisa Crawley: I moved to LA two months pre-pandemic and had a wonderful time writing music and gigging, and between that and previous visits I had an insight to some of the amazing things LA has to offer. I think it has challenged and encouraged me to become my best self, musically and generally speaking!
Izzy: In the past year you’ve done a lot of new music with Rob Kleiner (who I actually just realized was in Tub Ring, which I dug in hs, but is about a million miles, sonically, from any of the stuff that he produces now). How was working with him? I understand the two of you became fast friends.
Lisa: Working with Rob is fantastic. He’s such a versatile producer, musician, and writer. We met at a songwriting conference in Hawaii that focused on pop music/sync licensing and when talking found out we had a lot in common including music that was a little more left of center, and that with our skills combined we would probably write good songs together. He’s also put up with me being a terrible cornhole player yet still invites me to join his friends for a game every weekend.
Izzy: You recently released a video for “The Right Way,” directed by Heather Ballish. How did the idea for this “highly reflective” video come about? It has a very classic feel to it.
Lisa: I’m so lucky to have worked with Heather. I met her at a bar right before the pandemic and followed her online and reached out recently on the off chance that she’d be up to work together on a video. I wrote out a bit of an essay of what the song means to me and some of the motivation behind the tune and Heather wrote up a very thorough, well thought out treatment and dreamed up every scene in the video. She’s a one stop shop: writes, directs, is an amazing DOP, and even lent me her socks and earrings for the shoot. She’s very prolific and I can’t wait to see what is in store for her in the future
Izzy: I feel like most musicians I know either love collaborating or hate collaborating, and you’ve become known as someone who collaborates really well with other musicians, so I’m curious, what is it that you enjoy so much about this process of working on music with all these other people?
Lisa: I spend a lot of time alone and would consider myself an introvert, but I love working with others to get out of my head a bit, learn new tricks and share some old ones. Self-promotion can get pretty tiring as an artist and as a consumer, so I embrace most opportunities to work with others, to celebrate them and learn from their talent.
Izzy: You have a new EP, Looking For Love (In A Major), coming out later this month. I just listened to it and really enjoy it (especially “Lazy Love”). What would you consider to be the album’s most significant influences and what can fans expect of these most recent sounds of yours?
Lisa: I’m glad you enjoyed the EP! I’ve enjoyed the musical space in these songs and making sure the sounds and lyrics I’ve used aren’t there for the sake of being there. I suppose I could read into that as being a metaphor for being more sure of myself in general. That, and giving myself permission to put the clarinet lessons as I had growing up to good use and featuring some DIY clarinet sections!
Izzy: I know you work in musical theatre as well. How did you get into that and how does that compare to the other work you do in music? Does it feel like an entirely different outlet for you?
Lisa: I grew up printing out A4 posters of Andrew Lloyd Webber shows and having them on my wall as a kid. Musical theatre was my initial dream but throughout high school I joined a band and started writing my own songs and more opportunities seemed to come from that world. I love playing a character, but I love singing my own songs more and like the spontaneity that allows. I’ve been lucky to have a taste of merging those worlds by co-writing and performing Elizabeth and doing a musical about songwriters when performing in ONCE.
Izzy: You’ve been doing this for quite a few years now. What have been a few of the highlights of your musical career so far? Have there been any experiences that especially stand out for you?
Lisa: A few highlights have been performing/hearing an orchestral arrangement of one of my songs come to life in a stadium, accompanying and encouraging people who never thought they could sing in public to do so, singing spontaneous duets with Craig Robinson at a comedy club in LA, talking about omnichords and Curb Your Enthusiasm with John Mayer, and being a part of ONCE.
Izzy: Finally, how are you hoping and planning to spend the remainder of the year, after your new EP drops?
Lisa: By continuing to work on new music (I’m planning to release another collection of songs around October/November). I can’t wait to see more of the US, go see shows and play some of my own gigs in and outside of LA.