Artist Spotlight: Lizzie Weber

Get to know Marmoset artist, Lizzie Weber. Her serene folk washes in like the rising tide, slowly and calmly. With each lyric bearing a weight of reflection, she maintains a levity in her songwriting, inviting the listener into her inspiring stories. We caught up with her about her songwriting process and how her environment inspires her compositions.

M: What was the first instrument you picked up?

LW: I began playing piano around age 11. I took lessons for about two years before deciding that I preferred to play on my own, and began playing around with original melodies by about 14. I didn't begin playing guitar until I was about 19, which is around the time I began to compose songs that included both lyrics and music. 

M: You mentioned that you recently made the move to Washington, which got us thinking, does place inspire your work? If so, what part of the writing process does it most inspire?

LW: Absolutely. Environment is such an integral part of my songwriting. Yes, the winters here are wet, but I live in a small town called Anacortes, that sits right on the water, with breathtaking views of the Cascades. It's quite peaceful, and there's less distraction, which allows for more reflection. Honestly, I feel more focused living here than I did while living in an urban city. 

That said, there's also an entirely different music scene in the northwest. A change in music culture can be positive, I think, almost like cleansing your musical palette. It can inspire you to incorporate new instrumentation into your music, or help you further define your own musical identity. Either way, for me personally I feel the change of scenery has been positive. 

M: How do you know when a new song is completed?

LW: Great question. Sometimes I will work on a song for months. I tend to write music and lyrics at the same time. It feels more authentic that way, as opposed to taking pen to paper and trying to be clever. That never feels quite as real for me as it does when I've got my guitar in hand, or sitting at the piano, singing as I play. From there I'll tend to expand as time goes on, both with the music and the lyrics, constantly revisiting and revising. Rarely do I finish a song in less than a month. Even then, when I say "finished" nothing ever feels done...only abandoned. And then you hope that whatever you've created will resonate. 

M: Where were you when you first started writing “Love Again”? How long did it take you? What was that process like?

LW: I began writing the piano part almost three years ago. Wow, that seems crazy as I say that out loud. Anyway, I had most of the piano structure completed, and lyrics that didn't feel right. I didn't play it very much. Then one day last August,  I was sitting at the piano working on it and my brother, John, who is a classically trained pianist and composer, joined me and began contributing some chord changes and we ended up collaborating to finish the piano structure. We must have sat at the piano for 30 plus hours initially; adding, taking away, rearranging, etc. I had new lyrics, and finally it all came together. 

I made a demo on my iPhone and sent it to my friend and producer Sheldon Gomberg. I called him and told him that I felt this was a special piece and asked if he would record it with us. From there, Sheldon began giving some thoughts on what kind of instrumentation would best accompany the song, and my brother began arranging parts for a string quartet, french horn, double bass and timpani. We went back and forth from August through December, working out the parts, tossing ideas back and forth, until finally we scheduled a recording date in January of this year. 

M: Did you know that you wanted to work with Sheldon Gomberg initially? How did you first connect with him?

LW: I met Sheldon about a year ago through a mutual friend who lived across the street from Sheldon. He basically said, "Hey, a fantastic, Grammy-award winning producer who works with singer/songwriters lives across the street, let me call him." We walked over there, I gave Sheldon a copy of my debut album, and we over time developed a friendship. Sheldon texted me the following day saying he listened to my whole record and really enjoyed it, which meant a lot to me. 

We got together again shortly thereafter and I learned about all the fantastic artists that he's worked with, and about his approach to producing. He was very genuine and spoke of how he believes that a producer's role is not to take away from the artists' vision, and that is very important when deciding who to entrust with the recording of your music. It's a team effort, not one person making indisputable decisions for anyone else. I knew he would be the perfect producer to bring "Love Again" to, and he was. 

M: What was your favorite experience while working with Gomberg?

LW: We recorded over two days: Two ten hour sessions. The first day we recorded piano and vocals. The second day we recorded a string quartet, french horn, timpani/percussion, and double bass. We had a revolving door that second day of some of the most talented session musicians in LA, all of whom were hand-picked by Sheldon. 

The arrangement was so intricate, that second session was a lot to get into one day, which ordinarily would be quite stressful. Especially as a self-funded independent artist, you're in a professional recording situation thinking, "this has to be perfect." Sheldon was so relaxed and collected the entire time, and has a great sense of humor. It's like being stressed around him is impossible. I was also really lucky to have my brother there orchestrating the session players. He and Sheldon worked so well together, and it was so awesome for all three of us to be in there bouncing ideas off of one another. Truly an unforgettable experience. 

When it came to the mixing/post-production process it was just as it was in the studio -- a big team effort. Sheldon's production on the song is exactly how I hoped it would turn out. The orchestration feels big, but the song itself feels very intimate. I couldn't have been happier, and I'm so grateful that I had both Sheldon and John to help bring the song to life in a way I couldn't ever have imagined when I began writing it three years ago. 

M: Where was your first live performance of “Love Again”? How was it?

LW: I first performed it live at a gig at Off Broadway in St. Louis, opening for Zella Day. It was right after I had decided I wanted to take just one song into a studio and really go all out with it, so it was really thrilling to share it right off the bat with a big crowd. 

M: What’s coming up for you?

LW: Hopefully a music video for "Love Again" in the very near future, and later this year, recording my next album.

Posted on April 1, 2016 and filed under Music.