INTERVIEW: Lisa Mitchell

We were first introduced to Lisa Mitchell 16 years ago when she appeared on Australian Idol and wowed the country with her organic tone and raw sincerity. From there the now Melbourne based singer-songwriter has had an impressive career of highs and lows that have brought her to the calming path she is on now. 

Following a few years of living overseas, she returned home with this adamant overwhelming feeling that she needed to settle down in Melbourne and focus on herself. From taking that time, and reflecting on her journey, she has created a body of work that feels like her most self-assured yet. ‘A Place To Fall Apart’ is an authentic and honest 11 track collection that oozes this overarching calming nature. From the very first listen you will feel like you are meditating alongside her while she is intimately confessing her deepest feelings to you. 

I recently chatted to Lisa Mitchell about the conscious attitude behind her new album ‘A Place To Fall Apart’, discussed how Qigong sonically impacted the record, and explored the creative processes behind songs like ‘As Love’ and ‘Blue’. Check it out BELOW;

THOMAS BLEACH: Your new album ‘A Place To Fall Apart’ is a tribute to what it means to be alive and learning in the world. So from writing this body of work, what was something you realised about your personal outlook on life?

LISA MITCHELL: I was reflecting a lot on identity as someone living in Australia who is also Scottish and German. I was looking a bit deeper into what it means to live on indigenous country. And it really connected me to my ancestry. 

TB: ‘As Love’ is a song that immediately stands out on the record. Can you explain the creative process behind this track?

LM: I wrote this song on my piano. I had just got back from spending a few years overseas in London and Europe. While I was over there at the end of 2018 I got this really strong sense to come home and really settle and base myself in Melbourne properly. While most people wouldn’t have realised, it was really significant and quite a big decision for me. So this song is a little montage of different loves, and that feeling of being young and in a relationship where you don’t even think about it. You kinda just go with the flow, and then then it just ends and you both move on. But at the time you didn’t really realise how special it was, and how valuable love is. So then you get a bit older and start getting more awareness in relating and communicating. So this song was all about noticing my different attitudes towards being in a relationship and being in love. 

TB: ‘Blue’ is a close second as a standout to me. What is a fun fact you have about that track that people won’t know yet?

LM: ‘Blue’ was one of the first songs I worked on with my band. When I think of this song I think of our three brains coming together, and our powers combined. And honestly one of the most significant things about this album is literally our three brains. It was a really conscious decision from me to work up all of these songs in rehearsals every week in a very casual and lengthy way. This song was us acknowledging that we are more than our pasts, and it was a really special beginning for this record. 

TB: In ‘Zombie’ you sing “I could die right now. I’m not scared. I like this feeling”. Do you feel a power when you sing those lyrics, and see it as a reminder for you to be in that mindset and to be present?

LM: Yeah, absolutely. For me it is about the feeling of traveling. I wrote that song in the summer in Berlin. I was riding around on my friend’s bike, just having a lovely time, and that song is really all about the thrill of the unknown and feeling very much a part of everything even though you are away from home. 

TB: There is an overwhelming calming nature to these tracks and the production. On Instagram you’ve done Qigong and talked about mediation. So would you say this has had an influence on the soundscape of the record? Because I definitely felt like I was meditating while listening to this record.  

LM: Yeah, for sure! I got pretty stuck into Qigong a couple of years ago, so it’s definitely influenced everything in my life. So it’s pretty cool to hear that it’s translated. I still appreciate music that isn’t too in-your-face, so I think I really wanted to trust myself with this album and not worry too much about selling it, or radio play, and just make an album that felt really yummy to play live. And that was really my main aim. So that has really informed the recording as well, as a lot of the recording is live because I really wanted to capture that real magic of when we play live together. And also captures the imperfections, as that is what makes music so special to me. Which means sometimes on this album some of my vocals aren’t perfect, or someones a little bit late, but I love that because anyone can program a drum beat, and really this is about the story of the three of us. 

TB: Six years ago you released your third studio album ‘Warriors’. Looking back on that record, what would you say was the portal track that led you sonically to this next chapter? Or the track that feels most aligned to where you are now? 

LM: Oh, that’s a really cool question. I think ‘Warhol’ was a very band structured song even though it has samples throughout it. I would also say ‘Love, Death X’, especially with the palette, the band, and the trance feel that the new album has. 

TB: You are hitting the road this May-July for an extensive run of dates. With this very calming and ethereal approach to the album, how is the live show going to differ or adapt from the Warriors tour where you had a headset mic, and a little bit of choreo?

LM: I definitely had some fun with the Warriors Tour! But yeah, no Madonna mic on this tour. It’s definitely going to be more focussed on a classic live band setup. And much more focused on instrumentation with me playing piano and guitar, as well as singing. With my core band Jessie Warren and Kishore Ryan joining me, as well as my partner Danny Ross, there are a lot of voices and harmonies which are very important to me. But, I still haven’t found a dress yet for the tour, but that is a really important thing I do need to find. 

TB: Your journey in our lives started with Australian Idol in 2006. Looking back at that journey, what is something from that time and experience that people may not know? Or maybe a misconception that people have?

LM: When I think back about actually being on the show I notice how much I felt like I was still under the umbrella of my family. I was literally sixteen. And whenever I look back I am just shocked by how young I really was. My family, my friends, and my school were a major part of that time, so when I also look back I don’t think of just me, I think of my whole community and family. 

TB: ‘Coin Laundry’ was a special song in your journey, and I remember you stopped performing it for a while because people would throw coins at you. What was one of the craziest times that happened? 

LM: Unfortunately some people just got too drunk at some festivals and didn’t really think, it was pretty crazy. I remember Kate Nash had a song about Oranges and people started throwing Oranges on stage at her thinking it was cute, but really it was very dangerous. But we still play the song now sometimes in our own shows. 

TB: Let’s play a quick game of rapid fire questions about A Place To Fall Apart. Are you ready? 

LM: Let’s do it!

TB: The emoji that best describes my new album ‘A Place To Fall Apart is’…

LM: There is a dove with an olive branch, so I think that sums it up. 

TB: The song that went through the most versions to get it to where it is now was…

LM: Probably ‘Zombie’, only because it was haunting me for a long time. 

TB: The song I’m most looking forward to performing live would be…

LM: ‘Let Me Stay Here’!

TB: Another name for the album I was playing with was…

LM: ‘Dreaming, Swimming’

‘A Place To Fall Apart’ is out now…

Lisa Mitchell Australian Tour

Friday 20 May – Music On The Hill, Red Hill

Saturday 21 May – Volta, Ballarat

Friday 3 June – Westernport Hotel, San Remo

Saturday 4 June – Canberra Theatre, Canberra

Saturday 18 June – The Factory, Sydney 

Thursday 30 June – Theatre Royal, Castlemaine

Friday 1 July – Corner Hotel, Melbourne

Saturday 2 July – Meeniyan Town Hall, Meeniyan

Thursday 7 July – The Northern, Byron Bay

Friday 8 July – The Brightside, Brisbane 

Saturday 9 July – Solbar, Maroochydore

Saturday 16 July – Jive, Adelaide

Saturday 23 July – Tanks Arts Centre, Cairns

For full ticketing details visit here