Australian singer-songwriter Lisa Mitchell has returned with her latest single "Zombie," along with thrilling news of her upcoming album. Superbly produced by Tom Iansek (Big Scary / #1 Dads), "Zombie" creates a dreamy soundscape that underpins Lisa's perfect, wistful vocals that help us view life in a different, brighter light.
On the track, Lisa said it is, "...an ode to being alive! To the glory and tragedy of feeling (and thinking!). Feeling can be the hardest thing to do sometimes, but feeling is magically linked with our human superpowers and we need those. Thank god I'm not a Zombie!"
This is a piece that manages to be both wide reaching and transformative in its exploration of what it means to be alive, and yet still speaks directly to how important the smallest of moments can sometimes feel. A gentle track empowered by the timeless vocal coats laid bare by a radiant Mitchell, this song stands as an introduction to a sound evolution. While finding ground in her natural progression, she is remaining faithful to the fundamental sonics tied to Lisa's honoured style.
Lisa Mitchell is renowned for her beguiling melodies and hushed tones whether playing crystal pure folk such as in the sublime "Pirouette," or wrapped-up in subtle electro beats such as 2016's "The Boys", or the always-popular "Coin Laundry." Captured in the classic yet evolved sound Lisa has developed, her latest work surrenders to Mitchell's new mantra - 'Supporting Your Unravelling.'
Lisa will be celebrating the release of "Zombie" with two intimate shows in Sydney on Thursday December 2nd, at The Factory Theatre and Thursday December 9th at Corner Hotel in Melbourne. Spotify fans and Lisa Mitchell's mailing list have an exclusive pre-sale starting today, Wednesday 29th September and general public tickets go on sale from Wednesday 6th October.
Mitchell's fourth album is anticipated to be a glorious and heartrending tribute to what it means to be alive and learning in the world, having been old enough to feel it's bruises and heartbreaks, but also be at the beginning of understanding our own individual insignificance within it. Written in the thick of the first year of a global pandemic that forced everyone's lives and spheres to become very small and very still, the album is deeply introspective and impactful.
We have a collective cultural memory of Mitchell as a teenage girl appearing on a reality television show, but she has grown so far beyond the hesitancy and insecurity of youth. After crash-landing into the music industry while still at school, Lisa released her debut EP when she was just 17, and her second at 18; both accomplished folk pieces harbouring pop ambitions. Mitchell's full-length debut, Wonder, delivered on their promise, reaching No. 6 in Australia and going Platinum. Countless Australian, UK and European tours and festival appearances followed. With highlights such as a spot at Glastonbury, ARIA nominations, and winning the Australian Music Prize.
The follow up album Bless This Mess, introduced a wider sonic scope, tethering lush piano-driven pop to jangly, rock flourishes. On her third album Warriors, Mitchell wanted to shake things up, enlisting producer Eric J to balance the organic instrumentation with electronic flourishes.
After six years between albums, the shift from ingenue to powerful truth teller and weaver of magic is complete. On Mitchell's fourth album, you can expect to follow the intrepid journey of Lisa's own unravelling. To unravel a thing doesn't mean to destroy it or even to separate it into a million pieces. An unraveled object becomes a singular piece, stripped bare of the artificial shape and form it held before. Unraveling is the precursor to rebuilding, a transition that can and should be done intentionally. In this album, the listener can hear Mitchell's attempts to be deliberate about her humanity and her choices.
Question: How would you describe your music?
Lisa Mitchell: I think I write music to express what I cannot say. My music is similar to moving journal entries, but in a different dimension. It is more like 'heart-song'.
Question: Can you tell us about Zombie?
Lisa Mitchell: Sometimes it's easier to describe what it means to be human, by saying what it isn't… When I was writing Zombie, I was thinking about how zombies don't feel, and how 'simple', that must be. Of course, it also means that they can't think for themselves, they can't love, and they aren't connected to life around them. I think there is much magic and intuition wrapped up in emotions, so I'd rather have these feelings than not. I'm glad I'm not a zombie!!
Question: What inspired your upcoming album?
Lisa Mitchell: The album, which comes out in early 2022, is inspired by the melancholy of heartbreak, connecting with Country, taking baths, slowing down and falling apart.
Question: Is there a particular message you hope listeners take from your music?
Lisa Mitchell: I don't have a particular message that I hope my listeners take from my music as I want listeners to have the freedom of interpretation. And if there are such hopes, they are woven into the songs.
Question: Do you prefer performing live or recording?
Lisa Mitchell: I am very much a cave lioness, so the recording aspect of the cycle is nourishing! I love my home in the bush where I live with my partner (on the outskirts of Melbourne/Naarm, Wurundjeri Country) and the depth and slow rhythm of writing music, reading and studying (I study Shiatsu massage + Qi Gong ). But touring presents a whole different type of nourishment! It stirs the ancient baird or troubadour in me, perhaps the gypsy ancestors on my mothers' side, or Scottish sailors on my fathers' side. For me it is drenched in melancholy (I've been touring since I was sixteen!) and a deep sense of fondness, while always feeling rough and ready, unglamourous, exhausting and deeply thrilling to the spirit!
Question: What should we expect from your upcoming shows?
Lisa Mitchell: I have a gorgeous band, so the single launches in December will be lush with this five-piece gang! I'm lucky to have some incredible players in my band: Jessie L Warren (Hachiku), Kishore Ryan (Otouoto, Kidsam ) and recently singer-songwriter Sophie Koh joined the band playing keys and backing vocals.
Question: If you could have anyone, in the world, attend a show, who would it be?
Lisa Mitchell: I am a huge fan of Scottish traditional Gaelic singer, Julie Fowlis, so I think I'd die if she turned up at one of my shows! Am I allowed two? Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron. I would lose it!!
Question: What motivates you most when writing music?
Lisa Mitchell: The muse is a mysterious force… Feeling like I'll never be able to write a good song again is a constant fear. But creativity is so entwined with death. Birth and death: are they not the same portal between the worlds…? So dying to my expectation of, 'always feeling creative,' ironically means that I feel more creative!!
Question: Which music/artists are you currently listening to?
Lisa Mitchell: I adore traditional Scottish and Celtic music, (Julie Fowlis, Brìghde Chaimbeul) open hearted spiritual music (East Forest, Beautiful Chorus) and alternate folk/pop (Adrienne Lenker, Rachel Sermanni).
Question: What or who was your inspiration to go into the music industry?
Lisa Mitchell: I grew up going to folk festivals around Albury (Yorta Yorta Country) where I grew up, so watching amazing bands like Kate & Ruth really inspired me and my friend to start our own folk duo. I spent all of high school in different bands and writing songs and experimenting. But, Missy Higgins really lit a fire in me: I remember seeing her playing on her falling-apart piano on Video Hits when I would've been around 13, and I thought, 'wow, she's kinda… Normal, like me. Maybe I could do that…!'
Question: How does it feel to hear your song played all over the airwaves?
Lisa Mitchell: It feels incredible to make music that is shared and loved by others. I believe that everyone is creative, and I hope it sparks something in someone else.
Question: What has been your favourite part of becoming a music artist?
Lisa Mitchell: My favourite part of being an artist, is also the hardest part: that it's really quite simple. I find it difficult to relax into just playing, just feeling, just expressing. I meditate and learn Daoist mysticism which helps me accept and enjoy the simplicity of life ( and joy) that is available to us all the time!
Question: What's a typical day like?
Lisa Mitchell: After cuddling with my partner (could the day get any better?!) sometimes I will put on my favourite song of the moment and have a dance, or go outside and meditate. Sometimes I will do Qi Gong with bare feet to connect to the power of the earth and heavens. Maybe that sounds weird, but it's just my jam! Usually I'll make a hot cacao in a thermos (with some witchy herbs in it) and the rest of my day will be a mixture of going on walks with friends, attempting to wrap my head around Chinese Medicine theory (I am studying Shiatsu massage!) talking to my family on the phone, being silly with my partner and playing guitar.
Question: What's next, for you?
Lisa Mitchell: I am excited to release my new album in early 2022! I recorded most of it live with my beautiful band: bass-player, Jessie L Warren and drummer, Kishore Ryan it in between the two long lockdowns here in Victoria (!). Producer, Tom Iansek (Big Scary) brought a beautiful atmospheric soundscape to the album. I am deeply looking forward to moving out of this lock-down chapter of our lives safely and slowly, and moving back into community with things like gigs (like my single launches in December!) and events and the nourishment that they bring.
Question: Can you share your socials? (links please)
Lisa Mitchell: Instagram
Interview by Gwen van Montfort