Lisa Loeb's career is pretty well documented, beginning with her rise to the top of the charts without a recording contract. Most know Lisa Loeb as the glasses wearing singer-songwriter from the 90's, but she has been incredibly busy over the years writing children's books, making cameos on television and in film, even launching her own brand of eye wear. Lisa Loeb stops by The Korova this Saturday night, so Sobre Sound spoke with her over the phone this week to ask her a few questions about the music business:
Sobre Sound: What were some of the first songs you learned on guitar? I take it you weren't a big fan of New Kids on The Block when they came out.
Lisa Loeb: No. I was sort of a new wave girl, into a lot of rock n' roll and classic rock, I was also into a lot of the new wave era like the B-52s, The Go-Gos, The Police. - I bought a Menudo watch once, but out of irony. I remember trying to figure out David Bowie songs like "Rock n Roll Suicide" and Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven."
Sobre Sound: Recently, Jessica Hopper rock critic and editor at Pitchfork brought a lot of attention to sexism in the music industry, in the early days of Liz and Lisa or even with Nine Stories, did you encounter a lot sexism in the industry? How about today?
Lisa Loeb: Back in the early 90s I think it was more unusual for a girl with an acoustic guitar to be playing music that wasn't folk music. I didn't consider myself a folk musician at all, like I said, my influences were David Bowie, The Police, Led Zeppelin. It was frustrating to know I would be perceived as a folk artist if I didn't have a band, and that'as why on my first album I made sure I had a band and a name: Lisa Loeb and The Nine Stories. Because I felt if I just had my name on the album, I would be perceived as a folk artist and I don't know if that's sexism or .. musicism-haha, not sure if it's a generalization people would make musically, if some one shows up with an acoustic guitar. Not sure people would assume "folk artist" with someone like an Elvis Costello or Billy Bragg and other artists that play acoustic guitar some times, even a David Bowie.
I think also because I was a petite, and still am a petite woman, and back then, as a young-looking petite woman I think I wasn't perhaps taken quite as seriously by music industry executives as I would have liked to be, but I'm not quite sure if that was just the hierarchy of being a musician versus someone who runs a record label.
There's all kinds of in-balances in all industries, not just music, but it is there in music as well. We see it over and over again, people being rewarded for bad behavior. It's not a culture I want to be a part of but that is the culture in music business we see today - the most extreme, the most obscene, that's the thing that gets rewarded often times. Luckily there are good examples where the person with a great voice and creativity is what is rewarded.
Sobre Sound: What are some differences between today's music industry and the 90s? Anything you wish you could bring back or change?
Lisa Loeb: You know I've said it before, I believe we're all on our cell phones a little bit too much. But now as far as being a musician, it's exciting, because you can reach your fans directly on the internet, you can put out music much more quickly if you want to, so that's really exciting. On the flip side, people aren't buying music any more and it makes it much more difficult as a musician to hire back up musicians and go on the road. There are hard costs to being a musician that can't be ignored, and we were paid more in the 90's when people bought music, all the costs associated with sound and mix engineers and those who master records, it becomes harder and harder to do those things properly.
Sobre Sound: You seem to have made a business empire out of being Lisa Loeb, what do you attribute that to?
I think i'm naturally very driven, I always have been. I love business. I love being an entrepreneur and being an independent person and doing business and creating things in the business world, while at the same time having a creative side to my personality and in some cases joining those two together.
I love being able to create music and write songs and perform but then also step aside and operate a business. The climate of things today, is that a musician can be whatever they want. When I was starting off in the 90's, it was frowned upon a little bit, if you decided you had other things you wanted to accomplish besides being a musician. Now, its accepted and encouraged, so that works on my behalf.