Where were you when you first heard Lisa Mitchell's track Coin Laundry? It was 2009 and I was shuffling through my older sisters' iPod nano - an act that was strictly verboten - when I came across her silvery, optimistic sound. Softly-spoken, bashful and only sixteen, we dubbed her an ingénue. I was completely mesmerised. As was the rest of Australia.
Almost fifteen years on, with a fourth album on its way and her new single Zombie just released, we can finally put this image to bed. Let me be clear, Lisa's immense talent is unwavering. But at thirty-one, the singer-songwriter has flourished beyond any portrait we've ever sketched of her. And in the years since her 2016 album Warriors, Lisa Mitchell has turned her gaze inward. She's unravelled. What does this mean? She's relieved herself of any artificial shape, unwinding to inspect the single layer that reels out before her. It is only here that one can begin to rebuild. To take a deliberate and intentional form. And that is the crux of her forthcoming album.
While, Zombie, her newest single is a celebration of what comes next. It's "an ode to being alive" says Mitchell. And it's infused with joy and hope - qualities we could all use a little more of right now.
In celebration of her newly released single Zombie, RUSSH caught up with Lisa Mitchell. Here she shares the first place she hopes to travel once international borders open up and why she refers to her new songs as 'math folk'.
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What do you wish more people knew about you?
I study Scottish Gaelic, my great-grandfather’s first language. Ciamar a tha sibh?
Can you describe your sound in 2021?
My band and I jokingly call the new songs, ‘math folk,’ because of all the intense finger picking and strange counting.
Something I’ve discovered recently is...
Stout is a good beverage for strengthening your blood! (Ah, my Shiatsu studies are paying off! )
If you could sum Zombie up in three words, what would they be?
Humans have feelings!
You’ve covered Gillian Welch in the past, is she an influence of yours? Did you have any other artists/influences in mind when making Zombie?
Gillian. What a writer! I loved covering her song, ‘Everything is Free.’ It kills me. With my new single, Zombie, I hear a little M Ward in my writing, in the light energetic feeling but with a focused tailoring of the phrasing and rhyming with the guitar rhythms. In the last few years I’ve been influenced by The Weather Station, Lucy Roleff and Julie Byrne, to name a few.
You’ve said Zombie is “an ode to being alive”. After almost two years living with the pandemic it can often seem like life has stood still. What makes you feel most alive or what energises you?
I think what I find most liberating and energising is knowing that there is no ‘right way to do life.’ When I remember that, I follow my own longings and enjoy myself.
We heard you have a new album coming out soon. Can you tell us a bit about it and what inspired it?
The new album is out early 2022! I loved working with Tom Iansek (Big Scary & Maple Glider). He created such a beautiful album with the band and I. The songs are inspired by examining identity, heart break and this gorgeous place that I am so lucky to call home – Wurundjeri Country!
You’re currently a Shiatsu student and you’re also training to be a teacher of Qi Gong. Can you tell us a little bit about this experience and what drew you to the practice?
I was learning about birth a few years ago with a dear friend who is a doula in Sydney, Elizabeth Criner, and Qi Gong came up around that time as being a useful way to be in touch with the subtle energy of your own body and others bodies, during something like birth. Shiatsu spoke to me as being a beautiful offering for pregnant people and post-natal. I started practising Qi Gong during the Victorian lockdown last year, and am loving going deeper into this branch of Chinese Medicine. I have started teaching online, under the name, Let Your Body.
I’m looking forward to…
Returning to our weekly band rehearsal after lockdown ends in Victoria! It’s my favourite day of the week! I also really want to take my partner to visit the Isle of Arran where my Dad’s side are from in Scotland when we are allowed to travel.