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Q&A: Liza Anne on college experience and introspection

Liza Anne is set to perform at The Basement on Jan. 10. Credit: Courtesy of Erika Goldring

Singer-songwriter Liza Anne’s first album, which she released during college, is titled “The Colder Months.” It’s only fitting that she make a stop on her tour in Columbus this week.

The Nashville-based folk artist is set to perform on Wednesday at The Basement with local supporting act Fields and Planes.

Since “The Colder Months,” she’s released “Two” and has another release, “Fine But Dying” planned for 2017. This will be the fourth time performing in Columbus for Liza Anne, who made three stops in the capital city in 2016. In January, she opened for The Oh Hellos at Newport Music Hall. In May, she supported Joseph in The King Room, and in September she opened for Bear’s Den in The Basement. Up until now, Liza Anne has performed solo, but she said she’s looking forward to bringing a backing band this time.

The Lantern spoke to Liza Anne while she was driving to Columbus.

The Lantern: Is there anything memorable you did outside of your shows in Columbus?

Liza Anne: There’s the best bakery in the entire world there. (I have Celiac Disease) so I have to be gluten free and there’s a gluten-free bakery in Columbus that is my saving grace. It’s called Cherbourg Bakery. It’s perfect. Every single time I’m there I go and get like a whole box of their croissants. I’m really excited, I’m going to do that first thing (Wednesday) morning.

TL: Do you remember anything about the Columbus crowd? How does it differ from the crowds in Nashville?

LA: I think that every show that I’ve played in Columbus has been so attentive. Even though I’ve just been supporting other artists, I’ve always had a very attentive and quiet crowd there, which has just been a gift.

You just never know, the first time I played Columbus I played the Newport with the Oh Hellos and it was, like, a huge crowd. It was probably the biggest crowd I’ve ever played in front of and I was by myself, so there was something terrifying about, what if people don’t listen? And it was pin-drop silence. It was insane.

TL: I read that you have some experience doing house show tours … What has been your experience with house shows vs. commercial venues?

LA: It’s been a few years since I’ve done house shows. I think the last time I did a house show tour was in 2013. It’s been a while, but it’s such an interesting transition going from houses to venues because there’s something in a house — they automatically are going to listen and pay attention, everyone is there to experience music. It’s the same in (commercial) venues, but sometimes it can be less personal. What I’m trying to do is create an environment that is that intimate no matter what venue I’m in. That’s been interesting to really see that translate. And that’s so encouraging as an artist who is up there sharing all of my secrets. That was easy to do in houses, and I thought it was going to be harder in venues — and sometimes there are hard nights — but for the most part I kind of feel like I’ve kind of created this strange universe that people can come in to and be quiet and think about themselves. I hope that’s what I’ve done, at least.

TL: I was reading that you released an album while you were in college. Is there any song in particular that you wrote during that time that you think really speaks to the college experience for you?

I was a songwriting major, so there’s a few that I wrote for class. Honestly, the university experience was pretty insane and draining for me. I was touring full time as well and … I wanted to be focusing on (music) the whole time, but I couldn’t. I’d be on the road for two weeks at a time and juggling that with my law courses and my songwriting courses, and it was just super overwhelming. I think, if anything, that album just is a product of having to focus on 10 things at once. It’s interesting to give yourself space while you’re in school to create things, and I think that ended up turning into something good. College feels so far away now.

TL: I saw Fields and Planes is opening for you. Did you discover them?

LA: The venue actually sent me that as an opener submission, and I listened and I was like ‘Yeah, this will be a really good fit.’ I’m really excited to hear their set because I only got to listen to a couple of their songs, so it’ll be interesting to see how they perform live. I was really impressed.

TL: I also wanted to ask you what you and the band are listening to in the car while you travel?

LA: Oh my God, so many different things. I’m listening to a lot of Angel Olsen and also Robby, my guitarist, has been DJ-ing through the entire trip. So, half of the stuff we’ve been listening to I don’t really know but it’s all been really good. The Lemon Twigs is my favorite new discovery of the trip. They’re super rad.

TL: Do you tend to listen to a similar style of music to the kind that you like to make?

LA: It’s kind of all across the board. I tend to enjoy listening to more introspective things. I have a hard time listening to something that’s sole purpose is fun. I’d rather be listening to something that has some sort of conviction attached to it. Because I think if art isn’t doing that it’s just wasting your mental space. If you’re going to give yourself time to think about the song while you’re listening to it, it might as well be something that’s important to think about.

Editor’s Note: This interview was edited for length and clarity.

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