Written by Monica Sottile
Just before the release of their sophomore EP Do You Know Enough?, I spoke to Charlotte of Moaning Lisa about the crazy year the band have been having.
Do You Know Enough? is the perfect mix of garage rock and shoe-gazey dream-pop that encompasses a nostalgic and diverse range of emotional experience in 5 songs. It tells a romantic story that can be interpreted however the listener desires. From the garage rock of Carrie to the huge swirling heights of Lily, the band tells the story of romance and love lost.
You have had a huge year for Moaning Lisa! You played BIGSOUND, released several singles, your EP, you signed with Father/Daughter Records, you played Yours and Owls, announced Shakafest and Mountain Souns and are about to go on tour again for your EP. You’ve had so much on after the last few months, how are you doing? Are you okay?
When you say it like that it sounds like heaps! I am naturally unchill, so this is great for me – I don’t know about the others! But this is what it’s like, so I’m okay. Thank you for asking! I actually feel like we’re being really lazy this year as a band. We did our APRA music report for 2017 and we’d played 58 shows in one year. And I thought ‘oh yeah that’s normal’ but it’s not apparently.
So you’re about to move to Melbourne – is that a business or pleasure decision?
I mean it’s a bit of both! I love Melbourne and I’ve lived here [in Canberra] for my whole life so I’m ready and I want to have a music career. Ellen and Hayley and I have got a house together and are going to be like a little family in Melbourne. It’s been a long time coming so I’m really excited.
You’ll be back in Brisbane in a few weeks for Against the Grain. Are you excited to come back up?
Yeah always! I’m just sad we can’t stay for longer.
Your EP is amazing. I saw that you were a bit concerned about the diverse styles/genres of the songs on the EP; you’ve got some classic garage-rock songs and more dream pop songs. For me, that says that you cover a wide range of emotional content with these songs (which I love), but what does the body of work mean for you?
The EP came together super gradually. “Carrie” I wrote by myself solo before the band even started. ‘Good’ I wrote in the middle of last year. ‘Comfortable’ we wrote ages ago as well – we actually recorded a demo of it and released it as a demo version then re-recorded it for the EP. ‘Sun’ and ‘Lily’ we all wrote together. Those were the ones I was worried about because Sun and Lily are not like Carrie at all. It’s hard when you want to stay authentic as an artist but also wanting to make a living and being paid attention to. I just love that by no kind of planning they all sit together really well. They create some kind of narrative. The songs on there were written in the order they appear on the EP. “Comfortable” was one of those songs we always played live and always wanted to be a part of the set so we decided ‘ok that’s important and still relevant’ so we re-recorded it all shiny and new and included it on the EP. I really love the idea of narrative; I love albums and EPs can be contextualised and made sense of through the narrative. I’m also a big English nerd and musicology nerd so I love things like that that I can talk about. So when our manager asked us to write a little blurb about the EP I had to hold myself back from writing more than 150 words.
What are you doing to celebrate your release day tomorrow?
Well, I’m not working and I don’t have anything planned. I might go get my hair done.
Has it been hard to wait to release this EP?
Yeah – well we recorded Lily, Good and Carrie all in the same session. Good was the first mix our producer sent and it was like ‘perfect, great, love it, done’ and Carrie was really similar. But with Lily we had to go back in and re-record the whole thing because I wasn’t vibing it – I didn’t think it sounded right. So it was a bit of a slog but worth it. I’m so ready for an album though – I want to do some 8-minute-long prog rock songs.
I feel as if people in bigger cities can look to places like Brisbane, Canberra and Newcastle as smaller and less exciting than they really are. Have you experienced this in your scene? And what’s your favourite thing about your hometown music scene?
Yeah totally. My favourite thing about the Canberra scene is the people. That’s such a clichéd answer, but the amount of people in this city that are artists is incredible. The artist per capita in Canberra is off the chain and everyone is in everyone else’s projects, everyone is supporting each other. I always say there was no way we’d be a band if we didn’t start in Canberra because that whole first year we were just playing Canberra. We didn’t play our first interstate show for nearly a whole year and we were able to sustain creative stamina and playing live shows with people supporting us without even having to leave Canberra. I think it’s such a misconception that people think there are no venues so therefore there’s no scene in Canberra – no! The venues that are here are so cherished by everyone here. There’s a massive DIY show scene as well - everyone does everything. It’s like Newcastle and Wollongong, and kind of like Brisbane except Brisbane is a bit bigger. Everyone here is hustling so hard – you have to do everything yourself because it’s not like Melbourne of Sydney where managers and booking agents are everywhere and producers are everywhere. I managed Moaning Lisa up until August this year. It’s so special and I feel like people in bigger cities are missing out a bit.
Who are you most looking forward to seeing play at Against the Grain?
Sweater Curse (hehe) but also lots of bands that I’ve already seen play and love like Maddy Jane and Candy – I love Candy. We’re really excited to see Pool Shop play as well. Early on we did a tour with Major Leagues and Jamie from ML is Pool Shop and I remember I met her after she released Somewhere Sometime, which was my favourite song for such a long time. I spoke to her about it and she was telling me how she wrote it about when she was realizing she is queer and coming to terms with that and we had such a special moment of her describing her song writing process. It was so surreal for me because I was thinking ‘this is my favourite song, and the person who wrote it is in front of me.’
Ok so my final question is what star sign are you and the other band members?
I’m a Leo! Hayley is an Aries, Ellen is a Gemini and Hayden is a Sagittarius. What are you?
I’m a Sagittarius.
Yes, love that. I knew you’d be a fire sign.
Moaning Lisa go on tour for their EP launch next month. Make sure to catch them at their shows in a city near you.
NOV 3RD – AGAINST THE GRAIN FESTIVAL, BRISBANE
NOV 8TH – CHIPPO HOTEL, SYDNEY w/ EGOISM, Spit Chewy
NOV 17TH – SPILT MILK, CANBERRA
NOV 23RD - THE TOTE, MELBOURNE w/ Cracker La Touf, Slush
NOV 24TH – SHAKAFEST, GOLD COAST
DEC 8TH – STONECUTTERS, ADELAIDE