by Grace Sawin
Texas-based artist, Liv.e (pronounced Liv) headlined the Ghoulish Get-Down, alongside Boston acts Winkler and John Rosenboro. She sat down with WRBB’s Grace Sawin to discuss her songwriting process, failing to fit into one genre, and touring over sushi.
Grace Sawin: You’re from Dallas - do you claim that as your hometown? Do you think that it has influenced your music at all, or have the people inside it influenced you?
Liv.e: It’s definitely all of the above. Yes, I guess I do claim it as my hometown; I’m not ashamed. And yeah, I would say my experiences have shaped the way I sound - the way I talk.
My friends and family have definitely played a big role in my music. I feel like I should start lying in interviews. My dad's a musician, my brother’s a musician, so I feel like I tried to avoid doing music because of that.
I was going to college for design objects, which is under architecture, and I remember thinking, “I can’t afford these materials, I can’t afford anything here.” And I was just like, alright I think it's time to stop avoiding what I'm actually good at.
You just released your sophomore album, Girl in the Half Pearl - what did the process of making that look like for you?
Chaos. I would say lots of cognitive dissonance. It was pretty dark, but fun. Just a lot of my shadows. I feel like sometimes I write, sometimes I journal. That or, you know, sometimes I’ll just free write and I’ll grab something from that. But it honestly just depends on if I’m feeling it or not. Writing is so much easier than speaking. Singing - well I don’t even consider myself a singer - but expressing myself in that way helps me alot because words aren’t always enough.
Does that process feel somewhat cathartic?
I was listening to your new album and I really like how you play with sound - there was some cool layering and the production was very unique. Some people have described your sound as “experimental R&B,” would you agree with that label?
Honestly, there are times where I’m like, “oh, I want to make this one specific thing,” but I know I never make one specific thing, it’s always a combination of something. So I don’t really know, I think I just let people say what they want. But to label it, it’s been electronic; that’s one of the themes. That’s what I’ve been on tour around, so it’s kind of been in relation to that.
Do you think your sound has shifted from your older music, even unintentionally? Does your sound reflect different stages in your life?
Oh definitely. It’s funny because there are parts of things I used to do that I kind of miss and vice versa - things I don’t like anymore. It’s always evolving; I’m always learning new things and trying to reach out. I feel like I was more naive when I dropped my first album. I don’t know if I’m naive now, but maybe I am; everyone’s a little naive, but I do think I have a little bit more wisdom now. I think I’m more focused on the process - how do I express this feeling in a way that’s not far out of reach?
You’re closing up your tour right now, can you tell me about that experience?
It’s been awesome, honestly, I’ve been feeling really blessed. I’ve been all around the world - everywhere except Africa and Asia and Russia. Germany maybe. Switzerland.
I feel deserving; I’m glad I’m doing exactly what I wanted to do and seeing things I definitely wanted to see in a way that’s really feasible for me. And I get to share that with people around me - I travel with a trio overseas. We’ve been to so many places over the summer, like Australia, Japan, and we went to Italy a couple of times. It was just fire. I think my favorite so far has been Sydney - we played an EDM venue, which was perfect for the set. I mean the lights, the sound, the crowd; everybody was tripping.
You said you feel deserving on tour - do you have a preference between the process of making music or touring; does one feel more fulfilling?
I think both are pretty fulfilling - the process of research, you know, researching myself and trying to figure out what I’m going to do and putting the puzzle pieces together is as invigorating as going on tour. Tour is more of the physicality - I feel like “oh my god I’m seeing something different every day.” Honestly, being on tour for five months was such a dopamine lift that when you get off of it, it sucks. I feel like I’ve been seeking that thrill since. I don’t know how I feel about touring yet, but if I keep going and going and going, maybe I’ll never get tired.
Another thing I love - a lot of touring is me interpreting the album differently; just bumping heads with people and seeing how we can make it more suited for us.
I wanted to circle back to when you started touring - I know you were featured on Earl Sweatshirt’s album and toured with him, could you tell me a little bit about that?
He heard one of my first little EPs called “Hoop Dreams” and he just hit me in the DM’s and was like “this is so tight, come on tour,” and I was like “oh, ok sure,” and that was that. I love how we met because honestly people around me were really big fans of Earl, but that wasn’t my thing. He’s a great guy, and that was really my introduction to touring, which was crazy. There’s a kind of luxury that comes with it. Although, it wasn’t awesome like Pharrell, like we were on a stainless steel tour bus, but it was so fun and I’m so glad he hit me up. Touring is exhausting - every day you’re moving and doing something new and it gets pretty tiring - but to be able to do it with people makes it fun and frivolous. We didn’t even go overseas but we went to so many places.
Are you working on any new music or projects right now?
The future looks like so many different things. I’m always doing something, even if it’s not an album. See me outside, no worries.
Liv.e highly recommended the food at Symphony Sushi, rating the miso soup a 10 (“obviously”), the yellowtail serrano a solid 8, and the spring rolls only a 4. She definitely wouldn’t recommend the milk tea with boba though, which she spit out almost immediately.