I’m a sucker for a song with a powerful message, and Nashville- based singer- songwriter Lieza blends just the right amount of pop with heart felt and thought provoking lyrics. She allows you into her world and takes you along her journey of self- discovery and self- acceptance. In a class all of their own, artists who have the ability to be vulnerable in their music are few and far between. But it’s that same vulnerability that allows artists to truly connect with their fans, and it’s just one of the many reasons why Lieza is one of music’s most promising up and comers.
From “Eyeliner” to “Don’t Make Me Dance,” Lieza crafts beautifully intricate pop anthems overflowing with honesty. Her highly anticipated release of “Hate Me” is set to premiere January 26th, but Inspirer presents an exclusive first listen of the ultimate anti- bullying track. Inspired by her own experiences with bullying, “Hate Me” is as powerful as it is catchy and every bit a reflection of Lieza’s endless stream of talent. Inspirer got the chance to speak with the #MeToo advocate about what inspires her, why women need to continue to speak up, and how music truly saved her life.
How did you get your start in music?
So growing up, my family wasn’t super musical. Both my parents were scientists. They didn’t really understand the whole musical side of everything. But I was in band. I played flute. I started to pick up some piano and guitar and things like that. I sang a little bit, but I pretty much didn’t tell anybody that I did. I kept it kind of secret for awhile. And then I went to college out here in Tennessee at MTSU, and I went for audio production because I figured I could learn the behind the scenes kind of stuff and then produce my own things if I had to. While I was going to school, I got an internship with Femke Weidema, and she taught me pretty much everything that I know about know about vocals, vocal editing, songwriting, and all kinds of things. I interned for her for awhile, and then right after I graduated, it was maybe a year later, she’s like, “Hey, I’m starting this label. Do you want to be the first artist on it?” I was like, “Hell yeah I do!” So it just kind of blew up from there.
Who are your inspirations musically?
Growing up I listened to a lot of old country actually. And Billy Joel. I’m like a massive Billy Joel fan. He is a God- send, genius on piano. Since I started to do my own thing, right now I’m in love with Lorde. Julia Michaels is incredible. And I listen to a lot of Ed Sheeran.
For anyone not familiar with your music, how would you describe your sound?
I would just describe it as being an eclectic mix of pop and organic sounds that’s heavily driven by honest lyrics.
I love that you have strong messages behind your songs, including one of my favorites, “Don’t Make Me Dance.”
So that was interesting. I try to write every song from a personal place because writing for me is like a form of catharsis, like I need to do it in order to get my feelings out. So everything comes from a personal place, but that one didn’t in the beginning. I was just messing around on piano and just kind of like found a groove that I liked and started to loop it and just wrote some stuff over top. It was good, but it didn’t come from a personal place that had much meaning to it yet. So then I took it to Femke, who is also my producer, and was like, “Hey, I have this idea. I’m not really sure where it’s going yet.” And she’s like, “You know, it could be like a really powerful message.” And we just started like talking about past relationships and a lot of stuff came up. I was like, “Why don’t we write from this #MeToo perspective?” And that’s where that kind of came into place, just us talking through it. And we found a way to kind of connect what I had said.
A lot of women are speaking up now more than ever about abuse and sexual harassment, things that we kept mostly silent about for so long.
I think it’s just because we’re sick of it. Like we’re at a point where it’s like I don’t know how much more we can take. And I think there’s a lot of really, really powerful, inspiring women in the entertainment industry, especially right now, that have taken it upon themselves to step up and say something. Every woman that steps up and says something makes it ok for the next woman to say something. It’s been this gradual thing. I think social media has helped a lot to show it’s not just you, it’s a lot of people.
I had “Hate Me” on repeat from the second I first heard it, and I love that it has such a powerful message behind the lyrics. What was your inspiration?
So “Hate Me” is actually from one event that happened to me quite recently. I used to work at the gym part time, and I was doing customer service. So it was super late one evening when this woman came in, and you could tell she was on edge for whatever reason. I was trying to help her, but she didn’t know what she wanted so I couldn’t help her. And since she was frustrated already, she started taking it out on me. It went from being a professional workplace confrontation to a personal attack quickly. And she said things like, “You’re incompetent. You shouldn’t be in this position. You’re not even fit. You shouldn’t be working at a gym.” And I have a very tough exterior so I usually don’t let things get to me. But the way that she was saying it and how personal it got based off her knowing nothing about me, it really did mess with me. I took two seconds, cried, went back out there, dealt with it. I’ve been bullied in school when I was younger and this was kind of the culmination of all that. It’s where you go back in your own head a little bit and you’re like, “Well, are they right? Are they validated?” But you kind of have to forget about them because those kinds of people only have power if you let them have power. And you just have to not think about them, and find a way to love yourself.
I love that even though you didn’t grow up in a musical household, music is still such an important part of who you are. What does music mean to you?
I’m one of those people that music has genuinely saved my life. I was a very depressed young child and hadn’t figured out how to process my emotions and what to do with all kinds of angst growing up. But I somehow found my way to music. I mean, like I told you, I didn’t grow up in a musical household. There was a piano, but nobody played it. We didn’t really talk about it. So somehow I found my way to writing and playing music, and that was how I dealt with my emotions. I’m not generally very good at talking about it, but if I put it into a song then you’ll know exactly how I’m feeling. So to me music is everything. I feel like it’s the reason I’m here. I feel like I need to share my story not only for myself but in hopes of letting other people know that they’re not alone in whatever they’re going through.