Interview – Singer/songwriter Liz Stringer

We chat to Liz Stringer ahead of her gig at The Soundhouse on Saturday 16th March 2024

Interviewed by Adam Piotrowski

Here at Music in Leicester, we love 2 things: celebrating the deep well of musical talent in the Greater Leicester Area, of which there is a great deal. And enjoying up-and-coming and established national and international acts passing through our fair city. While we may not regularly get the big names that our neighbours Nottingham and Birmingham often do, I think many people would be surprised at the quality of live performances that are taking place any given night in one of the many live music venues in Leicester.

The show we are previewing here achieves both of these.

We have been hearing great things about local artist Amber Clrxe. She will be accompanied by guitar and keys and will be playing original pop rock with a mixture of ballads and upbeat jazz and dark pop tunes.

Heather McDowell who splits her time between the East Midlands and London has had a strong start to the year, with a headline gig at Firebug, the release of her infectious single Truman Show and solid publicity from A & R Factory Review and Totally Music will also be supporting the main act.

We are really quite lucky to have an artist as gifted and hard-working as Liz Stringer coming to play at such an intimate venue as The Soundhouse here in Leicester. She is originally from Melbourne (not the one by East Mids Airport, you know the other one, in Australia!) and has run with the likes of Courtney Barnett, Mia Dyson and Jen Cloher.

I got the chance to have a brief but very insightful chat with Liz over email recently discussing music, inspiration, travel and what we can expect from the show on the 16th of March. Come down for Liz, but be sure to be early and enjoy some local talent first.

AP: You were signed to the now-defunct Milk! Records label, founded by Australian indie royalty Jen Cloher and Courtney Barnett and featuring Australian acts Hachiku and Evelyn Ida Morris. How did you get involved in the label and what was the community like around that network of people?

LS: I had already released an EP and an LP with collaborative project Dyson Stringer Cloher with Jen Cloher and Mia Dyson, so I was technically already a Milk! artist. So it seemed like a logical home for First Time Really Feeling. The whole crew were/are lovely people who are all really passionate about music. Milk!, under Jen’s management for many years, really helped to form a strong community in Melbourne and an atmosphere of inclusion, particularly for female and non-GNC artists and fans. I’m really proud to have been a part of that community for the few years I was.

AP: You’ve just relocated to the UK. Can you tell our readers a bit about your motivation for the move and also how it’s been so far?

LS: I’m living in London and I moved on December 31st so I’m still pretty freshly here! I lived in the UK many years ago (in the Midlands) and have been in and out of London over the last few years touring, so I’ve had a relationship with the country on and off for years. I also made a record here in summer 2023 and really loved being here so I decided to make the move and start to establish more of a career here. That’s the plan, anyway!

AP: Your most recent release was 2021’s First Time Really Feeling. I listened to that song a few weeks back and now I can’t stop listening to it! Something about the persistent beat and the dynamic changes makes it feel like a journey of some kind. Do you feel like your experience of travel and touring has influenced your work in any way? If so, how?

LS: I’m so glad you enjoyed that song! I think my life of moving around/touring a lot has definitely influenced how I write but more from the perspective of the amount and variety of people I’ve come across along the way. People are the main inspiration for my songs – there are literally endless stories out there – and having access to so many amazing people’s stories has been an inspiration and a huge privilege.

AP: What can we expect from the Soundhouse show in Leicester? Will this be a rollicking frolicking band gig, or an intimate solo performance?

LS: This will be a solo show. I love playing solo and do it a lot. It’s a much more intimate setting and I get to take the time to talk about the songs and provide some context for the stories I’m telling, so I really love it.

AP: You’ve recently recorded a new record in Brixton where you were playing more keyboard than guitar. You wanted to incorporate more soul, jazz and funk elements onto the record, enlisting producer Beni Giles, whose work you admired on Lianne La Havas’s Bittersweet. It sounds like you were heading in the direction of a more urban sound, while your listeners are probably more used to an organic alternative folk kind of sound. To what extent is this going to be a departure from your previous work? And when will the new album be coming out (if you can share)?

LS: I think there’s a degree of musical departure but the stories are still at the heart of every track so in that sense nothing has really changed. My last record moved more into indie rock/pop and further away from folk which is where I started. But again I think the strong folk element is the narrative songwriting, which is the consistent mark all the way through my work. And I played piano before I played guitar – it’s curious why I’d never used keys as the central instrument on a record before but I think having all that time in Melbourne during lockdown with access to a piano really let me get comfortable with writing in styles that I’d always loved as a fan but, for some reason, didn’t explore as a songwriter/performer. It’s an exciting new chapter for me.

AP: You have had a varied musical career, with 6 solo albums, a couple of albums with the original all female indie super-group, Dyson Stringer Cloher, toured as a session musician, done solo tours and with a backing band. You’ve also lived in various places around the world such as Toronto, Nashville, London and of course Melbourne. Can you tell us a little bit about your approach to life and music, and why you find it beneficial to have such a vast array of experiences?

LS: I’ve always found that a change of geography is refreshing and inspiring for me. I’ve wanted to move around to continue to get to know new places and have different experiences. I know that’s not for everyone and every now and then I’ve wondered what my life would have been like if I’d had a more traditional approach to things. But ultimately I’ve been following my instinct and it’s lead me to some very interesting and rich experiences, for which I’m very grateful!

Check out links to Liz Stringer below:

Tickets for the gig at The Soundhouse on the 16th March, 2024 can be bought here.

Liz’s Stringer’s web site.

Liz Stringer on Instagram.

Facebook event.