Zombie is out now!
Image: Jess Brohier.
Singer-songwriter Lisa Mitchell has made her return, unveiling her breathtaking new single Zombie. We caught up with the musician to chat about the release, working on her fourth studio album, her upcoming live shows and so much more!
Serving as the first taste of her forthcoming studio album, Zombie as an ode to being alive, lyrically documenting life’s small moments that leave an impact and conjure feelings. Set atop the singers signature acoustic based sonics, the track arrives alongside an official visual, directed and produced by Ilsa Wynne-Hoelscher Kidd.
To celebrate the release, Mitchell is set to return to the stage for two exclusive shows, performing in Melbourne/Naarm and Sydney/Cadi this December. Tickets are on sale now!
You’ve described your new single Zombie as an ode to being alive, lyrically documenting life’s small moments that leave an impact and conjure feelings. What inspired the conceptual nature of the track?
The archetype of the Zombie came to me, as I was trying to describe what it is to be human and full of unruly and exhilarating feelings, and sometimes I find it’s more accurate to say what being human isn’t. And being a feeling, breathing, evolving human is definitely not zombie-like! I like that it gives the listener an unboundaried, and more realistic definition of what ‘we are’. My experience of my emotions is a constant navigation, of listening to what they’re trying to tell me, feeling them, honouring them, gleaning intuition from them but not letting them run the show either.
The song arrives at a time where a lot of us are feeling like zombies in lockdown. What messages do you hope listeners take away from the track?
I’m so over lockdown!!!! I long to play music with my band, and order flat whites that come in warm china and sit and talk with my friends in cafes. I even miss my feet sticking to the carpet in old music venues. Having certain freedoms taken away from us is something that most of us have never experienced before and I hope that Zombie brings a little Summer warmth ( I wrote it in Berlin one Summer) and perspective to my listeners.
Zombie is the first taste of your fourth studio album, and solo music from you since 2017’s When They Play That Song. How do you find taking an extended time between releases allows you to immerse yourself in creating?
Albums seem to take as long as they take! This album had an interesting trajectory: in 2018 I started demo-ing with Nick Huggins down in Pt Lonsdale, and then ended up recording the rest of it nearly 2 years later ( including pandemic!) with Tom Iansek (Big Scary, Maple Glider.). In that time I was doing a bit of study - I enrolled in Uni and did some history and identity studies which were super informative. I feel so grateful to have learnt so much and I am still in the process of understanding the Western worldview that most of us have inherited, and the ways to begin to heal the separation between humans and the beyond-human in myself, for starters, by examining my identity as a white woman living on Wurundjeri Country. And at large, in my society, for example that so many people in the world are seeking asylum in Victoria, and yet we are so ungenerous with our refugee policies. It is useful to look at what the Western worldview is based on to understand what underpins these ways of thinking…
What’s one thing you’ve learned whilst creating the new album?
I wanted to record the whole album ‘live’ ( as opposed to over-dubbing everything separately which is how must music is recorded these days) because it captures the wild magic of people playing music together in the same room at the same time: that the sum is greater than it’s parts! And I learned that this is very very hard. I got a migraine as soon as we finished the ten days recording, probably from the release of the focus…! It also involves surrendering to the final product not being perfect. It gave me so much respect for the bands and artists who recorded completely live to tape, pre-digital recording era. I love what we created! It’s coming out in early 2022.
If Zombie was a piece of visual art that already exists, which artwork would best capture the essence of the song?
Self-Portrait as a Businessman 2002, with additions 2004
What’s one line from the song you find at times could be stuck in your head? Or a line that you come back to?
"On the frontline, I feel the edge, calling to me." This line comes me lately in the midst of feeling restricted by the lockdown in Victoria, I am finding myself leaning into small acts of spontaneity in my everyday life as a way of finding the ‘edge’ to lean out into. It helps me stay in tapped into the creative hum of life…
Australia has a diverse and vibrant music scene, who are some of your favourite Aussie acts and why?
I love Ruth Hazleton’s Celtic/English folk. I am half Scottish and so it pulls on the heartstrings. Aine Tyrrell is an Irish singer-songwriter based up near Brisbane. I love her music because she is political and opinionated. I’m a big fan of Half/Cut my bassist, Jessie L Warrens band. They are heavy and cathartic.
The current pandemic has obviously put a halt to touring and performing live. Will audiences be able to catch a live show in the near future?
Looking forward to playing shows in December, in Melbourne/Naarm and Sydney/Cadi! Can’t wait. My band is so beautiful and made up of incredible musicians, most of whom are songwriters in their own right: Sophie Koh, Danny Ross, Jessie L Warren and Kishore Ryan.
You’ve performed at some of the biggest festivals across the globe. Which show left the biggest impact on you, both professionally and personally?
Glastonbury over in the UK was pretty insane! But I think my favourite festival was playing on the main stage at Woodford Folk Festival and looking up into the huge gum trees as we were playing! That was a big deal for me as I grew up going to folk festivals, and Woodford is a huge deal in that scene!
Mariee Sioux, The Weather Station, M Ward.
Brighde Chaimbeul - a Scottish smallpipes player.
Album that has had the most impact on you?
Impossible to give one answer: The Middle East’s, I Want that I Will Always Love You, Tanya Tagaq’s Retribution, Kate & Ruth’s Swapping Seasons, Clare Bowditch’s What Was Left.
How do you define your musical style in 3 words?
Private, cathartic, dancing.
Best song of 2021 so far?
Rachel Sermanni’s Swallow Me.
If you could create the soundtrack for any film, which one would it be?
Bright Star - Jane Campion.
Hannah Montana or Miley Cyrus?
What was the first song you loved to sing?
Walking in the Air, from The Snowman (1982).
A song you would love to cover on tour?
So Into You - Tamia (98).
Album you would listen to on repeat on a road trip?
Anything by Fleetwood Mac.
First concert you went to?
Xavier Rudd at Bilyana Natural Ampitheatre near Albury where I grew up!
Best concert you have been to?
Half/Cut, my mate’s band. Actually, she plays bass in my band too.
First album you ever bought?
Would you rather be a Spice Girl or a Backstreet Boy?
If you were a Spice Girl, what would your spice nickname be?
Most memorable show you’ve ever performed?
This is heartbreaking, but I sung, Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell’ to my Granny in Scotland on facetime last year… She almost definitely didn’t know who I was, but she sang along, and it was the last time I ever sang for her. She was an incredible woman.
Guilty music pleasure?
If you could tour with any artist, who would it be?
An artist you think has had the most influence on the music industry.
Allara, DRMNGNOW, Archie Roach, NIDALA, Midnight Oil and Jack River in terms of climate justice and First Nations justice.
What advice would your current self, give your future self, for a year from now?
Trust yourself, relax.
The moment you knew you wanted to be a musician?
Seeing Kate & Ruth and the Wailin’ Jennie’s performing at Canberra national folk festival.