Coffee Chats with Lottie Liams
Let’s jump right in, you recently released a new single ‘Blame It All On Me’, tell me a bit about what inspired the track and how it came to be?
Blame It All On Me was in its entirety an accident. I stumbled across a tune when I was taking a break from writing a different song that I was stuck on. This was back in January, about 2 or so weeks before I was set to head into the studio to record songs with Jets Records. I wrote the chorus first but struggled to write anything else, so I went back to the song I was originally writing and put it in the back of my mind. I would have forgotten about it but the melody and potential it had was just so persistent in my brain that I knew I had to finish it at some point. Fast forward to the night before recording and I made a point to sit down at my keyboard and write the whole song out. The message in the song was something so guttural and difficult for me at the time that it came together very emotionally and with a lot of back and forth on things, but when I finished it I knew it was something that I had to put out in the world. There’s nothing more difficult in a relationship, regardless of nature, than feeling like you just can’t win. Being the person who takes the blame by default and the person who puts more effort in than gets back from someone is hard, and something I think everyone has experienced in some capacity. Love itself is simple, but we make it difficult with our pride and egos and our moral fallacies, and that’s where this song comes from. Getting the love you deserve should be so simple, but so often, it’s not, and I learned that a long time ago.
I brought Blame It All On Me as it’s original ukulele and vocal incarnation into the studio to my producer Ben Stewart (front man of Slowly Slowly and absolute legend) and he saw something in it, so together we made this totally unique dark pop song. What had been the song I almost never wrote, the song I almost never recorded, became something so much more amazing than I could have expected. It was something I was afraid to write about and even more afraid to bring into the world with my name attached to it, but I kept reminding myself ‘If it hurts, then it means something. What is music if it’s not completely and utterly authentic?’ And that’s what Blame It All On Me is for me.
What’s coming up in the foreseeable future of Lottie Liams? Can we expect some new tunes anytime soon?
Despite what our current situation might lead you to believe, there is so much coming up for me that I couldn’t be more excited about. We might not have any gigs to look forward to as of yet, but expect more releases to be coming very soon, each one better than the last. I’m so lucky to have had the chance to make some amazing tracks in the studio before the world went to shit, and I can't wait for them to be released in the coming months. I’ve also got some film projects on the way and so much more. We can’t give away too much now, but I’m bursting at the seams with everything that I know is coming.
Have you been writing much new music in iso? Tell us a bit about that
I have! 2020 has been a very creative year so far for me, I stopped writing new songs for about 2 years after I released my debut EP “Greenhouse Blues” in 2018- I got to a point where I felt like I had so many original songs already that I just wanted to focus on getting them recorded and out in the world before I start writing brand new material, but of course that’s easier said than done. I’m glad I took that time away though, my writing style has matured and developed so much since then and since isolation started I’ve been able to knuckle down and make some music I’m really proud of. The latest piece I wrote is a timid love song called “Hypothetically” which is another song that came by accident (all my best songs start out that way I’ve noticed) after a night of drinking alone in my room and watching some Instagram livestreams, and it was one of those songs that took absolutely no thought and just flowed out of my mouth. I don’t like writing love songs but I have to say it’s definitely one of the best songs I’ve ever written; if you want to chuck it a listen I’ve uploaded a sneaky little video of the song to both my IGTV and my Facebook page, so you can catch a glimpse of my new material there. But I reckon I’ve got about a small albums-worth of new songs that have come about over the past 2 months, and I can definitely say that with this infinite supply of free time I have on my hands that there’s definitely more coming.
You have a bit of prior experience with social isolation? Do you have any tips or words of wisdom for the struggling first-timers coming from a pro?
Being someone with a compromised immune system means I’ve done this whole song and dance before. Having had a history of complex medical conditions, I could have told you all exactly what this quarantine period is going to feel like long before Covid-19 was a mere particle in a petri dish. How it feels to be disconnected from the entire world, to be imprisoned and helpless. I thought that suffering such a fate at the young age I did when I got sick would be nothing but trauma to carry, but now I see that in times like these when the whole world is experiencing the same fate that it’s merely given me an advantage on how to deal with my own mental health in this situation as well as provide comfort to others who have never been here before. The biggest piece of advice I have to impart is that on the subject of productivity. When the world is normal, whatever your life may entail, you have jobs you do or tasks to get done or responsibilities to take care of. But when all that is taken away it’s so easy to feel helpless and to feel lazy because you have nothing to do, and therefore feel unproductive and guilty as such. But something so important to understand is that when your environment changes so do your responsibilities. You cannot hold yourself to the expectations you had that were designed to coincide with a world in motion. Productivity in the normal world may have looked like putting everything into your 9 - 5 job, or it may have looked busting your ass trying to book gigs and write music every single day like me and my friends in this industry. But the environment we are in doesn’t require that same productivity anymore, and you shouldn’t feel guilty for not “accomplishing” as much while we’re here. Productivity just has to look like doing what you need to do to get through the day efficiently, to stay engaged, to keep yourself happy. That’s all it has to be right now, and it’s hard to adjust to that if you’re a full-steam-ahead kind of person, but the only job that you need to feel pressure to do is keeping yourself safe and okay for the time being.
You’re known to have a bit of an obsession with video games, what have been your top isolation picks?
Obsession is probably the right word- I’ve been gaming my way through life since I was knee height. For isolation season I’ve decided to make the most of my time and try out some new games, like a puzzle game on Xbox called the Turing Test (it’s basically just a dollar store version of the Portal series, one of my favourites, but I did enjoy it because I have a big interest in the theologies of mathematician Alan Turing, which the game centres around) as well as a game called Afterparty, which is a game with a super weird premise where you go to hell and have to play beer pong against Satan, but it’s the funniest game I’ve ever played and I loved every second of it. I’ve also made a point of revisiting some old games that I lacked the determination to complete or that I didn’t give enough chance. Dead Island is one of them, I couldn’t get into it the first time I played it, but when you’ve got nothing better to do it’s a lot easier to sink your teeth into something, and I’m glad I did because everyone knows there’s nothing I love more than running around a post-apocalyptic island smashin’ some zombie heads together with a modified baseball bat (see one of my other all-time favourite games, Left 4 Dead 2). I’m also going back to the Halo series for a healthy dose of nostalgia (my childhood bread and butter and what got me into gaming when I was but a young tyke, probably too young to be dabbling in first-person-shooters but I digress) as well as picking up the trusty Call of Duty: Black-ops again, so I could complete the campaign on the highest difficulty and actually put some effort into unlocking the various achievements that the game challenges the player with. It’s also a great game to play online with your fellow Xbox mates when you’re feeling disconnected and need a bit of co-op, and I’m lucky to have a mate that’s happy to stay up to 1am with me for some quality gaming time.
If you could pick one album to listen to for the rest of your life, what album would it be?
Wow, you had to sneak an existential question in there, didn’t you. Well I’d probably have to say Amber Run’s 2015 album “5am”. I first came upon it in a very complicated time in my life and all the songs mean so much to me in different ways- there’s songs that helped me through trauma, songs that make me want to fall in love, songs that help me grapple the complexity of life and songs that I dance in the shower to every single morning. It’s such a special album to me and I could listen to it on repeat til the day I die.
Tell us about your favourite show experience so far?
My little tour stint with Middle Kids on their tour with Ruby Fields is my career highlight in terms of live performances. I’m glad I perhaps didn’t take it as seriously at the time, because if I had known what I know now about how big and spectacular those shows would have been and how much they inspired how I see live performances to this day, I would have been too terrified to go on stage with just myself and my ukulele in the shadow of these amazing acts. But I think not taking my job too seriously is a strong point of mine, and all I cared about was having a good time and putting on a great show, and that’s what I did, and they have a place in my heart for the best shows I’ve played (so far).
Are you a coffee or a tea person? (How do you take your drink of choice?)
I’m a die-hard tea drinker, always have been. I actually make a lot of my own herbal tea from my plants and herbs that I grow at home; it’s a fun little hobby I like to play around with and I love making little jars of specific homemade tea for all my friends based on what’s ailing them. Tea all the way ! - sorry coffee chats… My favourite thing to do of a day is boil the kettle and sit on my bed with my big white teapot and one of my favourite mugs and drown myself in several cups-worth of tea while playing video games. So let’s just say I’m thriving in isolation.