Lizzy Parks is a British Jazz/Soul singer & songwriter who has released 3 albums and has an amazing voice and some amazing tunes and I loved what I heard when I picked up her accoustic album This and That. This talented lady is worth checking out and you will be hooked once you hear her tunes.
1. How did you get into music?
From as early as I can remember we had a Piano in the family home I grew up in, and as children me and my sister would make up duets. My sister went on to have Piano lessons and one day my step dad showed me a clarinet that his daughter had once learnt so I decided to have Clarinet lessons at school. I was around 7 when I started properly learning about music. I was really lucky because although I didn’t attend particularly prominent schools, the music teachers and their departments were always incredible. They always gave up their spare time to rehearse groups, bands and choirs and it with this enthusiasm and incentive that music became the only career path I ever really considered.
Aged 11, I started learning the saxophone because it looked like more fun than the Clarinet and I joined the school jazz band lead by a really inspirational teacher. That was my introduction to jazz. All the american song book standards and amazing jazz vocalists came flooding into my life and it was singers like Ella Fitzgerald that opened my eyes to improvisation, scatting and absolute vocal freedom. On the other hand I was listening to groups like Radiohead, Portishead, Bjork. I had a love for the kind of 90`s trip hop, heavy beats with etherial vocals so some school friends and I started a band called ‘Violet’ and that was the first step on my songwriting path. We got quite good and gigged a lot locally in the local clubs and bars, playing some gigs with another local band who are now quite big ‘Muse’, at this time I was only 13.
After leaving school, I continued my musical studies and fronted the college big band as their vocalist. I did a degree in jazz and got signed to a small Birmingham based record who released my first album `Watching Space’ in 2005. Everyone always told me to follow my heart but to keep my head firmly in my studies and that way I could always fall back on teaching music to make sure I wouldn’t have to compromise too much. In hindsight they were absolutely right ,although there’s the rebellious part of me that wishes I hadn’t been so strategic in my learning. Sometimes when you study a creative art in an academic environment, you end up having to unlearn things that you learnt in order to get back to the most natural place for being truly creative.
2. What has been the highlight so far?
I can’t pinpoint one particular time. Its been a journey and each corner presents a new exciting dimension whether its getting signed to a new label, starting on a new collaboration, writing a new song, hearing your track on the radio or performing a great gig.
3. What inspires you now when writing music?
My first album was entirely autobiographical, but by the time I got to the second album `Raise the Roof` I realised that I had to be become more of a story teller to create variation in lyrics. The music, melody and lyrics tend to all come at the same time during my writing process. I guess the musical influence comes from whatever i’ve been listening to at the time.
5. Why did you decide to make an acoustic album?
My third (acoustic) album ‘This and That’ came about as a result of being really proud of my second album ‘Raise the Roof’ and myself and the producer Ben Lamdin both decided that there was more depths in the tracks that could be explored and that the songs worked in both an orchestral soul and an acoustic setting.
6. Who have you enjoyed playing with recently?
The last remix of one of my tracks was done by a really up and coming Barcelona duo called ‘Beatspoke’, who put a great new and fresh perspective on a collaborative track I had done with ‘Natural Self’. I’m also in the very early stages of a new collaboration with a really great (and unlikely) producer but its too early days to talk about.
7. How did you get involved with Tru Thoughts Recordings?
One of the boys from my first band ‘Riaan Vosloo’ moved to London before me and got involved in the ‘Nostalgia 77’ project who were signed to Tru Thoughts. He recommended me as a feature vocalist for the track ‘The Hope Suite’ and as a result of that I started gigging with them a bit which is how I met Rob Louis and therefore got involved with Tru Thoughts as an independant artist.
8. How has social networking helped your music?
Things like youtube, facebook, websites and blogs have played a big part in making my music accessible to people, and they have also given me a platform to promote up and coming gigs. But being online creates problem of instant accessibility through illegal downloading etc. As soon as one person buys you track and puts it online, its available to everyone for free, and whilst I think music should be affordable and accessible, this increasing problem presents modern day artists with the problem of having to constantly reinvent new ways to make a living.
9. What advice could you give to some one wanting to give a career in a music a shot?
Work out what you want and what you like,and stick to it regardless of contradicting opinions. If a sound works for you then theres no reason why it wont work for plenty of other people. Thats a piece of advice thats so easy to say and often hard to stick to especially when people often want to share their sometimes negative opinions! But honesty is defiantly the best policy even if it doesn’t sell you millions of albums, you’ll go to be happy at night!
10. How has touring helped your music?
Touring allows me to access new audiences, meet fans face to face, try out new songs and is really satisfying when you’re in the right venue with the right crowd. Performing live as much as possible gives you a great platform on which to build your sound as a live artist. Although its always great to get home!
11. How has radio and the media received your music?
Its been tough to tap into major radio play. Partly because i’ve been a victim of genre cross over from jazz to soul to pop etc (or so i’m told) and all the major radio programmes have really small and genre defined playlists. Its also about who you know and i’m not very good at networking just for the sake of getting something to benefit me. Craig Charles and his show on BBC6music have been really supportive of me. He’s a really nice guy and genuinely loves music (plus he was in Red Dwarf which gives him mega bonus points!).
12. What is next for yourself?
I spent most of last year writing and am intending to spend most of this year working through all the writing I did and working that out! My problem is that I often want to do too many things and create too many sounds at once and I find it hard to commit to one album at a time and that can sometimes hinder my progress. But one thing I have learnt from living in the South of France for the past 3yrs is that its very important to take your time and get it right. Making albums is not the only way to be successful and get satisfaction from the music industry. There will be plenty more albums from me, thats for sure, but when, how and who with is yet to be decided! Watch this space.