Every Monday we will be bringing you an unsigned singer or band as part of our Independent Music Monday feature. This week, we caught up with Lisa Kowalski find out more about her…
Where are you from and how did you first get into music?
Paisley, Scotland. I sang in choirs at school but it wasn't natural for me to be stood in a line, I always wanted to jump to the front and do my own thing. Then, after listening to early Taylor Swift songs, I picked up a guitar at age 13, learnt the chords of songs by ear and away I went, playing and writing songs and performing anywhere and everywhere. Initially it was mainly busking and open mics but as my confidence and experience grew then I started to get offers to play at paid gigs, festivals, conferences etc.
Who were your musical influences when you were growing up and who are your influences now?
Taylor Swift was and is a major influence and I also liked other pop and country artists such as Hunter Hayes and I had a Halsey phase. These days my musical influences are much broader - I listen to music from the sixties to the present and am also into a lot of local Glasgow bands, as the music scene is great here. Some of my favourites at present are Bruce Springsteen, Ryn Weaver, Orla Gartland and locally The Vegan Leather (who live down the road from me) and Pronto Mama.
How would you describe your sound?
I think it reflects all my influences listed above, mainly guitar based pop with meaningful, emotive lyrics and a catchy melody. One reviewer described the songs on my first EP Free Spirits as a pill of perfect pop happiness! Other people have likened my sound to Suzanne Vega, Kirsty MacColl and Sheryl Crow amongst others!
What is your latest single called and what was the influence behind it?
I have an EP out with 4 sings but didn't release a single from it. The track that is getting the most attention is perhaps Hearts of Gold. The EP was part funded by a grant from the Paisley 2021 UK City of Culture bid and they have also given me funds to record a professional music video for the song. Hearts of Gold is all about my experience and love of busking in Paisley and how much the support the town has given me means to me.
What’s your local music scene like?
As mentioned above, Glasgow has always had a vibrant music scene and some amazing venues, although not being 18 yet means I can neither perform at or attend gigs at some of them. I have however performed at the legendary Barrowlands and the O2 ABC and have King Tuts in my sights for next year (I turn 18 next February). Glasgow offers both great quantity and quality of music and genres and loads of events and opportunities to play, as well as a lot of very supportive local radio stations. Just a shame it's usually raining at the Scottish festivals!
What do you have planned for the next 12 months? Any albums or festivals?
I am bringing out my second EP in early 2018 with the first single to be released for my 18th birthday. In October this year, as well as filming my music video, I will be performing at a local OXJAM event, the Paisley Spree Festival as part of a singer-songwriter project led by Sarah Hayes of Admiral Fallow and have a gig supporting alt folk blood trio Wildwood Kin on their UK tour.
Is there anyone you’d love to collaborate with?
Taylor Swift of course and also local band the La Fontaines, as a producer did suggest a collaboration with them on a really cool song earlier this year but it hasn't come together yet. It would be nice to tie up loose ends on that one.
Any funny stories surrounding your live performances?
I have been performing a new original song at festivals over the summer which is all about a relationship I had and includes reference to "keeping secrets from our parents". My Mum often attends my gigs so I usually have to pick her out in the audience and publicly apologise, which always embarasses her!
What is the one thing that you want readers to know about you?
I think people may think I am really confident because I will sing anywhere and everywhere. For example, I sang Free Spirits live for the first time the day after I wrote it to about 5000 football fans at St Mirren FC! The truth is though that I am a pretty insecure and awkward person who has struggled to find good people and a good place as a teenager. The lyrics in my first EP reflect me coming to terms with this.
I always bounce back though and find a lot of good in people and simple things, such as animals and nature and joking around with my sister, as well as music. So you will always get happy songs as well as sad or angry ones from me!
Recent news includes the following:as
In May, I won Renfrewshire Live and Unsigned.
Title track Free Spirits has been included in the Fatea Autumn showcase compilation album of UK wide artists.
I was nominated for Best Female Artist in the Radio Wigwam On line radio awards in August...
My songs have gained me a fan in the President of the Scottish American foundation who is currently looking at sourcing gigs for me in NYC for Scottish Tartan week.