Q&A: Lissie

ERICA RIVERA | Updated 5/23/2013

Former indie darling dishes on her celebrity, forthcoming album.

Lissie
Photo by Heidi Ross

Lissie (the stage name of Elisabeth Maurus) is the one-name wonder who wooed indie music listeners when her 2009 EP, “Why You Runnin’,” dropped via Fat Possum Rec­ords. While the songs that originally caught the world’s attention were folk-centric and wrought with precocious writing, two years later Lissie went with radio-ready, heavily produced tunes on her first full-length, “Catching a Tiger.” Twang-loving indie fans may have been disappointed, but mainstream media didn’t mind — the album garnered Lissie Paste Magazine’s No. 1 Best New Solo Artist of 2010 honor.

The alluring rebel who once was kicked out of high school is currently prepping to release her sophomore follow-up this summer. In an e-mail interview Lissie touched on her much-anticipated new album, smoking habit and foodie politics.

Q: Your new single, “Shameless,” speaks to the pitfalls of celebrity. How has being in the public eye over the past several years changed you?

A: I have seen and heard of people doing anything to make it and it just seemed like such a shame to me. I work hard on my craft and feel that I have this talent which — at times — is no match for the ruthless and clever who make a name for themselves. I sound really bitter! But I’m not. I know that I am on my own unique path. I hope I can achieve that balance to be a happy, simple person with varied interests who also sells lots of records and has well-attended concerts.

Q: What kind of sound can listeners anticipate on your new album? Will it be more pop-rock oriented?

A: The new album, which I am so totally stoked to share, is pretty consistently rock and, dare I say, pop! The folk/country element to my musical style isn’t in this new body of work as much. It comes out in a vocal inflection here and there, but I was shooting for a more cohesive album than “Catching a Tiger” was. I feel like I can always pick up an acoustic guitar and sing a folk song but that’s not my focus right now.

Q: Fans love the raspy nature of your voice. Are you worried that you will lose that if/when you quit smoking?

A: I have been smoking since I was 17 and smoke about 10 cigs a day. I know it’s not something that I can do for much longer. I am probably a bit in denial and defensive about how bad it is. I exercise and steam my vocal chords, humidify and drink lots of throat-coat tea. I had a raspy voice as a kid, so I’m not sure if it’d change the tone or not.

Q: How do you stay balanced and happy during what must be a rigorous touring schedules?

A: It’s hard ’cause I get out for a show here and there and I’m so excited that I’ll push my voice really hard and it tires quickly. I have been on a kick the last month or so to be really fit and mindful of my voice and overall stamina. I have prepared a health kit that’s got a kettle and humidifier, lots of tea, specials herbs and a little blender so I can make nutritious smoothies.

Q: What is your philosophy on food? Are you into the farm-to-table movement?

A: Growing up in Illinois I was a vegetarian and the options for health food were limited. It has changed so much in the last five to 10 years. I try to eat really well. In theory, I would stay away from anything processed and avoid GMOs and foods grown with chemicals. But, if I’m honest, I eat my feelings and have trouble not binging on crap from time to time.

Lissie