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In The City Of Angels
by Lorenzo Casaccia, 2002 ©
"Would you rather sit in the sunshine or in the shadows?". "It doesn't matter.
They are both fine with me".
We are sitting down in a nice coffee shop for a brief interview and, in its own way, Lisa Germano's answer can't help but sounding as an accidental paraphrasis of her own music, balancing between a dark philosphy of feminine behaviors and psychological mechanisms and a progressive folk in the wake of the early Joni Mitchell and Van Morrison.
It is a sunny and lazy August afternoon in Melrose, in the heart of Los Angeles, and Lisa's new record,"Lullaby For A Liquid Pig" is due in a few weeks (it has been delayed since then) on the brand new label Ineffable.
In front of a couple of lattes, we talked about Calexico and Beck, about being an American in Los Angeles and a foreigner in America.
She was tired. "I am moody" she said, "I have not been sleeping well. I don't know..."
How long have you lived in Los Angeles?
It is five years now.
Why Los Angeles? One thing that immediately comes out from your records
is the fact that they are "personal" and they have a sense of "intimacy". I
could say the same, for example, for an artist like Juliana Hatfield who yet
is musically different from you. But both of you moved to Los Angeles that on
the other side is considered one of the most superficial cities...
It is a big joke! Everybody here that is superficial knows that they are being superficial. It is all a big Hollywood-style kind of joke. You meet really good people here. And the weather is good. If I am correct about Juliana, we both come from cold places.
I come from Indiana, you know. When you live in the winter for 30 years, 40 years, it's really nice to be in the sun. I love the sun. I wake up in the morning and it is sunny and I go "God, this is great!". I bet you feel similar about it! And you always meet a lot of people here that do what you do. So the superficial stuff is just a name, unless you want to play that game you don't even notice it. I mean, I don't.
Where do you hang out in L.A.
I don't go out a lot. I am rather a homey kind of person.
Do you manage to live out of your music?
No, I work at an indipendent bookstore! One of the few indipendent bookstores around. It reminds me a lot of the music business. We have a lot of authors that come in and look for their own book and... we don't have it! It's just like when you go to a record store and you look for your own CD and then they don't have it.
Like when you have a record nearly coming out and you have a lot of reviews and press and you can't find the record. That's the difficult part, to get you stuff out and available. There's so many books. So many records.
Your new record is not on 4AD as the previous ones.
No, I have not been on 4AD for 3 years, since Slide came out. It is coming out on Ineffable. It's a new label and I am the first artist on it so it's kind of an experiment. The important thing is that the guy who runs it really understands.
It is going to be a difficult record, I think that a lot of people will like it. I think that people that are going to like it are going to really like it. It's kind of sad and a lot of people just don't like sad anymore. For example, the new Peter Gabriel record or the new Beck record are going to be really beautiful, but the reviews on Rolling Stone were like "it was to depressing to listen to it".
Now the reviews have all become this you-gotta-be-cool stuff.
How long have you been working at the last record. How do you work on your
I have been working on it for 2 1/2 - 3 years. But it really came together in January of this year, when I put it out with my friends, with my guitar player and my bass player. Actually I had decided to do that the autumn before but they all live in different parts of the US and when I was going to fly them here using all ym frequent flyer miles, September 11 happened and I did not want to fly anybody anywhere. Actually I did not want to fly anywhere myself. And after that I started using ProTools which is really convenient because you can send stuff to other people.
The production of Tchad Blake in the last record was really particular.
Can you tell me something more about it? Why you did not work with him for this
Because I did not have any money. At all. For Slide it was 4AD who paid. This one I made it at home, as I did Geek The Girl. Then since I made some money last year by touring with Neil Finn I started working on it with my friends and we put it on ProTools. And then it started costing me money, and I ended up spending all my money on it.
The fact is not that I don't have any record deal so I don't have money. No. It's that I don't have any money. I am not the kind of artist that wants to make every song sound the same. Every song must have its own mood and Tchad was very good in helping me doing that.
How much did your other records sell?
Not very much. The first one sold 30,000 because it was on Capitol. Then the others kept decreasing. around 10-20,000. Slide sold 6,000. 4AD had to drop me because I was not selling records. I mean, we are all friends but they cannot put money on you if you are not selling records. It all has to do with media and publicity.
When Geek The Girl came out it really had good reviews on Rolling Stone and on Spin, but the record was anavailable, you conld not find it anywhere. And then the next week it came out but it was too late.
Are you happy with you career? Do you regret anything that happened or
not happened at the right time?
No. I am one of those people that figure that if you did try your best did what you could then things'll happen in the way they are supposed to be happening. But it would be nice to mke enough money so that I could get a health insurance, or things like that. I am just glad that the people that like my record like them.
A couple of weeks ago I played at Largo and at the end there were two people who were crying afterwards. It kind of made me sad and happy at the same time, because I am glad that it connected but perhaps I wished it didn't because it was kind of sad and this person was surely living something sad. But it makes me feel worthwhile.
Lisa Germano's official page