BuildaBridge Teaching Artist Spotlight: Liz de Lise
"Making and playing music often feels more like an inevitable part of who I am than an active choice that I made...it's always led me right!" - Liz de Lise
One of my favorite things about a place like BuildaBridge is that it brings great artists that are already working and sharing their work with the world, and creates new ways for this art to engage and function in the community that inspired it. One such artist who is truly making a name for herself in the music scene right now is one of our long time teaching artists, Liz de Lise. Liz de Lise recently released a project entitled "Holy Matrimony" which is available on BandCamp. Liz gave us a peek at how she creates, and how this informs the work she is able to do with BuildaBridge. Thank you for your great work, liz!
How did you get into music?
Music has always been a part of my day-to-day-- my dad is a composer and recording engineer, and my mom is a singer and songwriter. My dad started teaching me piano when I was 5, and then I moved to violin, and by the time I was bursting with my teenage emotions, I started playing acoustic guitar and finding real solace in writing music.
I studied cultural anthropology as an undergrad, but playing in bands and writing took up most of my time. I didn't mean to start a career in music, but when I graduated, I found myself with a job performing live musical accompaniment for a modern dance company and working for my dad's music publishing business. Making and playing music often feels more like an inevitable part of who I am than an active choice that I made...it's always led me right!
What is your philosophy behind your art-making?
Writing music has always been how I process challenging experiences, memories, and feelings. As a song takes shape, I’ll edit and reshape, ideally ending with the essence of the original emotional intent. A piece of art will never encapsulate every nuance of who the artist is, but it is instead a moment in time, a piece of history. I do my best to allow my songs to live in their own moment, and to trust that the listener (if the song is shared) understands that it’s only a magnified piece of who I am. It’s also so important to me to bring levity to the most difficult to deal-with stuff, without diminishing the importance of a challenging situation. Some of my favorite original music has poked fun at the intensity of my feelings, and therefore infuses joy into something that had previously been impossible for me to handle.
How do you use your art as a tool for hope, healing, and strengthening?
In my commitment to share various versions of my “authentic self”, I hope to remind listeners, especially other womxn, that their feelings and thoughts are important and necessary. BuildaBridge is all about the individual being the “expert” of their own life— I hope that the music I make can be an example of one of the many ways we can express and process our traumatic experiences. When I was in high school, a dear friend of mine was killed. Without music and writing, I’m not sure how I would have made it through. Making music can be a communal healing and sharing opportunity, as well as a deeply personal and intimate creative time. I hope that I can pass this skill on to others as a way of expression, but also as a self-healing strategy, and a reminder of our own resilience.
Any notable projects you're working on or have worked on, outside of BuildaBridge, that you are particularly proud of?
I’m super proud of the record my band, Lizdelise, just released, Holy Matrimony. It’s the first truly collaborative writing and recording process that I’ve released. This process showed me that I had been afraid to speak my mind when I really cared about something. I was so afraid of having to confront a differing opinion in the creative process, because I didn’t want to be seen as dumb, and was especially afraid of being seen as a “stupid girl” in a world that unfortunately has been dominated by cis-men. The process of recording "Holy Matrimony" taught me how to listen to my intuition and identify those people who deserve my trust. My creative scope has opened so much since we started this process, and I’m so invigorated by the possibilities of what’s to come!
If you could meet anyone in history who would it be?
Ching Shih (aka Cheng I Sao), a woman pirate who lived in the 18th and 19th centuries.