Page last updated at 08:16 GMT, Wednesday, 12 May 2010 09:16 UK

Talking Shop: Lissie

Lissie has relocated to the UK for the summer to try to win over British fans

US folk-rock newcomer Lissie has been making waves ahead of the release of her debut album next month, recorded with Kings of Leon's producer and released by Columbia Records.

Based in a California farmhouse surrounded by fruit trees and new-age locals, Lissie Maurus is just on the right side of kooky and her spirited acoustic guitar pop has seen her likened to Stevie Nicks and Sheryl Crow.

She will also be one of the most anticipated new acts at this weekend's Great Escape festival in Brighton, where she will perform alongside the likes of Groove Armada, The Cribs and Tinie Tempah.

Describe your residence in Ojai, California?

It's an old rustic house with wood floors and a big wrap-around porch and the kind of windows that open out. I have a chicken coop in my back yard. No chickens because I'm never home. I have a pomegranate tree, peach, nectarine, orange, lemon, grapefruit, tangerine...

So you're all right for fruit then?

Yeah, I keep telling people: "Go to my house and get fruit because I'm not there." I picked, like, 200 tangerines and gave them away. But there are still tons of tangerines. And they're really good.

If I put make-up on, I don't really recognise that person, it makes me feel uncomfortable

What did you listen to when you were growing up?

I loved musicals - I loved The Music Man, Miss Saigon, Blood Brothers, The Secret Garden…

As I got into being a teenager I loved Sarah McLachlan and pretty much owned everything that she'd ever done. Melody is my ultimate passion - if it's a song from any genre and it's got a good melody then I'm probably going to like it.

Not many artists are into musicals - or maybe they just don't own up to it. Do you think that has fed into your music?

I think there's a bit of that drama of musicals. They got me into performing. I liked to feel the emotion of what the character was trying to express. It's carried over - I'm a literal songwriter so it's about my own character, my life.

Why were you kicked out of school?

At high school there are a lot of rules and everyone has to function in the same way. I really struggled within the structure. I would end up telling off my teachers and get really bored and just leave school.

I was going to sing the national anthem at this basketball game. It ended up not happening and I got into this huge argument with this teacher and it led to me getting kicked out of high school. It was a culmination of all the ways I was never really given any support or encouragement to be me, because I was a bit of an oddball.

Lissie has also worked with Band of Horses bassist Bill Reynolds

Who are you most compared to?

I've been getting a lot of Stevie Nicks and Chrissie Hynde. That's just because some of my songs and my live show have a bit more of rock attitude. I don't really know why people say that, but it's totally a compliment.

How did you hook up with Kings of Leon's producer Jacquire King?

He is a Nashville-based producer and I ended up going to Nashville for about four months last year and recording 15 songs.

It was cool because we rented this house just as spring was coming up and it was beautiful. A lot of the musicians were living in the house as well. We set up the studio in the house, it was our little compound.

Jacquire's a total pro. He's very disciplined and deliberate in what he's doing and seems to have a real method to his work. He just won a Grammy this year so he knows what's going on.

You played 10 shows in four days at the South by Southwest festival in Texas in March - how did you survive?

It was crazy. It made me feel anxious at first because after the first day I already felt like my throat was tight. So I would go home at night and just drink tea and go to bed.

Miraculously I got through these 10 shows in pretty good shape. There were some nights where I could barely talk but somehow I could still sing. The last night I stayed out till 5am though. I saw Hole, I saw Scissor Sisters, I drank a ton of tequila, I let loose.

How does your classic rock style fit in with the current scene?

I was wearing flannel shirts years ago - I'd wear a flannel shirt and my friends would tease me and say I looked butch. But now I'm lucky because it's in, and it's so in that I did a video shoot a couple of weeks ago and literally every single person on set was wearing a flannel shirt.

Is it right that you're not keen on wearing make-up?

It's totally true. There will probably be some day when I'll want to dress up and be totally feminine, but when I have photo shoots and people put make-up on my face, I really want to wash my face. If I put make-up on, I don't really recognise that person, it makes me feel uncomfortable.

On my photo shoot for the artwork for the cover of my album, I did my own make-up. I just put on some eye shadow and mascara and everybody was: "Right, cool, you look great."

Lissie's album Catching a Tiger is out on 21 June. She was talking to BBC News music reporter Ian Youngs.

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17 Mar 10 |  Music


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