- Mon, 2010-10-18 10:50
Eliza Doolittle (real name Eliza Caird) has been one of the biggest success stories of the summer, providing the perfect breezy soundtrack with her debut self-titled album, which to date has spent an amazing 14 weeks in the top 40 UK album charts. She doesn’t appear ready to slow down either, with new single Rollerblades sure to help us stave off the winter blues and a series of headline dates and support slots with Paloma Faith coming up, Eliza is set to establish herself as one of Britain’s brightest young stars.
I Like Music spoke to Eliza about how she found her sound, falling in love with music at an early age, her song-writing process and what the future holds.
”I Like Music because…it makes me feel things that I can’t feel with anything else in the world.” Eliza Doolittle
ILM: You’re just about to go out on a headline tour, how are you feeling about it?
Eliza: I’m actually in the bus right now on the way to the first venue! I’m super-excited about the tour. I was a bit nervous, but we’ve had a few practice gigs now, so I’m really excited.
ILM: What can people expect from the tour?
Eliza: We’ve got a few more songs and a keyboard player now as well, so it sounds a bit more like the record. It’s going to be really good I hope!
ILM: How long have you been working on the new sound?
Eliza: We’ve had about two days! Hopefully it’s going to be okay though!
ILM: You’ve been writing for a long time, but how about playing live? Is that something you’ve been doing for ages as well?
Eliza: I’ve been doing it since I was 15. I’m glad that I started so early, otherwise I’d be rubbish now! I’ve had a lot of practice and I have a lot of fun with it now.
ILM: Do you still get nervous before you go on stage, even after doing it for such a long time?
Eliza: I definitely had more nerves back then, but I still have a little bit now, and I think that’s important. You should never be too comfortable with anything you do.
ILM: So what does the current tour hold in store for you?
Eliza: The tour dates are sprinkled around this month, along with some uni gigs and freshers’ balls, and then at the end of the month we’re going to L.A. for a couple of days before we come back to support Paloma Faith on tour.
ILM: What are you up to in L.A.?
Eliza: Just doing a showcase, introducing myself to America!
ILM: So is breaking the States the next big goal then?
Eliza: Absolutely, we’re going to give it a go! I think the album comes out over there in March sometime.
ILM: Speaking of the album, it’s been doing really well in the charts recently, and stands out as very different from much of what else is out there. How did you develop your unique style?
Eliza: I really had to find my style. The reason why I’d been working so much before my record came out is that I’d never really found my own sound. I spent a long time experimenting, but the minute I found my sound things started going well for me. I got a record deal and everything fell into place.
ILM: What other sounds did you dabble with before you got to where you are?
Eliza: Well it was always still just me; it was never another genre or anything. I just never had one particular thing. I was coming from loads of different places. Songs would sound like my songs, but there wasn’t anything that tied them all together. That’s why it was so good when I felt like I’d found something completely different and new.
ILM: Has the song that made it click for you ended up on the album?
Eliza: Yes, it was Rollerblades actually, which is my next single. It’s out on October 18th!
ILM: What were you listening to at the time that you wrote Rollerblades? Was there anything in particular that influenced you to write in that new way?
Eliza: Well I think the reason that Rollerblades was so good was that I really hadn’t heard anything like it before, so I don’t know that anything influenced it in particular. But I did listen to a lot of different music when I was making the record: the Kinks, Steeley Dan, Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, Madonna, Benny King, Burt Bacharach… Loads of stuff! At the same time I don’t know if that influenced me, or whether I was influenced by stuff that I’d listened to before. I just listen to so much different music that it’s hard to say what has an impact on mine.
ILM: Did you have a very musical childhood?
Eliza: Well, I did always love music. I would spend my pocket money choosing songs on that tv channel The Box! I would basically spend my weekends ringing up and choosing videos! I loved it!
ILM: When did music go from simply being something that you loved to the thing that you wanted to do with your life?
Eliza: I think even when people used to ask “what do you want to be when you grow up?” I used to tell them I wanted to be a singer. Maybe at first I said it without really meaning it seriously, but after a few times I thought “well actually I should try this!” That’s what made me start writing when I was nearly thirteen. And I’m really glad that I did start so early, because if I hadn’t have focussed like I did back then I’d probably be way behind right now.
ILM: What advice would you give to someone who’s looking at where you are right now and thinking they’d like to get there too?
Eliza: Start writing straight away, and be involved in the music you make. That’s a more fulfilling path to take than just singing other people’s songs. It’s such a great feeling to finish a song; it’s like having children! Also, as soon as you have a few songs under your belt get gigging. It’s important to get out there, because if people like your music then they’ll want to get on board with the project and help you out.
ILM: What’s your song-writing process like?
Eliza: I haven’t been writing that much recently because we’ve been busy touring which is pretty crap because I love writing and I feel like I should make sure I’m creative wherever I go. But usually when I write I work with melody and lyrics first; usually melody first and then lyrics, but sometimes both at the same time. Then I just build it from there really. At other times I’ll write with a piano, or I might go into the studio and the producer I’m working with will have a track already which I’ll write on top of. It’s often quite different, but I’m generally quite a melodic person and lyrics come straight after.
ILM: Do you write with your band at all?
Eliza: Yeah, sometimes when we’re in rehearsals they’ll be jamming something and I’ll quickly record it on my phone and put a top line over it. I have things stored as ideas, but none of that has actually gone into a studio yet.
ILM: You shy away from going down the standard pop music route of writing lyrics about boys; where do you get your inspiration from instead?
Eliza: I’m inspired by everything around me, whether it’s the news, something I read, or anything that I’ve been through or have to get off my chest. Whatever I observe or feel.
ILM: Do you start with a concept and decide to write a song about that, or does a line or two pop into your head and you go from there?
Eliza: Sometimes a lyric just comes into my head when I’m working with a melody, and it seems subconsciously to work with what I’m feeling. Other times I’ll start with a concept. Skinny Genes, for example, was just a really cool concept. I loved the idea of writing a song about a guy that you hate but who’s really good in bed! So on an occasion like that I start writing a melody with a lyrical concept in mind and go from there.
ILM: You say you haven’t really started working on new material properly yet, but do you have an idea of what direction you might want to go in on the next album?
Eliza: I have an idea, but nothing’s been set in stone yet… For me this next album will be a step up, and the one after will be another step up and so on.
ILM: Can you tell us anything about this new idea?
Eliza: No! It’s really brand new!
ILM: Speaking of new albums representing steps up in your career, are there any artists who you particularly look up to in career terms rather than musical terms?
Eliza: There are tons! Someone like Carole King I really look up to for her writing and her soul. She’s definitely a legend that I would aspire to be like. Stevie Wonder again is a legend. Even someone like David Albarn. He’s a musical genius! He’s just constantly creating, whether it’s with Blur, Gorillaz or any other project. It’s just amazing to see someone constantly churning out great music. That’s what I’d like to be able to do.
ILM: Who would be your dream collaboration?
Eliza: Stevie Wonder! He’s the number one person I’d like to work with. It seems a bit far-fetched but it’s definitely one of my goals.
ILM: What’s the next step after Rollerblades has been released and you’ve finished the current live dates?
Eliza: I’m going to have Christmas off. Then I just want to get my music heard around the world and start working on the new record. Just keep spreading the Doolittle word!
Guest Edit #8: Eliza Doolittle Take a look here