Our WorldArts Spotlight Artist of the Month is Liz Wiegard! This up & coming Los Angeles-based indie singer/songwriter specializes in solo acoustic/folk-pop. She’s been honing her versatile talent since picking up the guitar in middle school and now her first EP is on the horizon. Check out our Q&A with her to learn about the inspiration behind her latest single, her journey as an artist, and who her own ‘Mr. Miyagi’ is (we all have one).
1) Tell us about how you got started in music?
I’ve been playing music since I was a little one. In 5th grade, I joined the band, and I played clarinet (which I played up through high school in various symphonic ensembles). Then in middle school I learned to play guitar, because to be honest, I thought it would make me seem cooler. So I started playing electric guitar in the jazz band. That spawned a genuine love of guitar that I could never shake. I’ve always been a singer, but only when I was alone and couldn’t be heard. Up until a few years ago, I had the biggest case of stage fright you ever saw. But once I had a realization that music is really what makes me happiest, I forced myself (through practice) to get rid of that stage fright. It’s probably one of my proudest accomplishments.
2) What inspiration(s) do you draw on when you create music?
Anything and everything! When I listen to music, I become a sponge. I absorb every little detail, and consider closely how I could use a technique or a style or whatever to make my own music better. When I write, it’s usually just a sudden flash of inspiration that I then jump on and flesh out. Sometimes it starts with a melody, a rhythm, or a lyric.
3) What was the music scene like in your hometown of St. Louis when you were growing up?
I lived in a small suburb of St. Louis called Arnold, where it was mostly just high school garage bands. I wish I could say I was more involved in the music scene in St. Louis, but I didn’t really discover the yearning to perform and participate until I moved to L.A. I just remember moving here and being so totally inspired by the people I met who were following their own dreams so passionately. It made me realize that I hadn’t ever tried before because I pessimistically assumed nothing could ever come of pursuing music. But I saw these people doing it for no other reason than their own enjoyment, passion, and fulfillment, and I realized that music makes me really, really happy, and that I had been silly to not just go for it.
4) If you could go on tour with any artist (past or present) who would it be?
There’s so many artists that I admire that I would just die to tour with. I think though, I’ll narrow it down to two: Ed Sheeran and Florence and the Machine. Ed because he’s the absolute epitome of the solo singer-songwriter genre. He’d be the Mr. Miyagi of songwriting and acoustic performance. And for Florence, as far as I’m concerned, she’s doing something that no one else does. No one really sounds like her. Her songs are so huge and incredible, and she performs with such a fire, I’d just want to absorb it through proximity.
5) What’s your ‘go-to’ karaoke song?
I usually do 90’s pop songs. Backstreet Boys or N’Sync. I wouldn’t want anyone to think I was taking myself too seriously.
6) WorldArts is all about giving tools and opportunities to artists. What advice would you give to aspiring musicians?
Don’t get discouraged. It’s incredibly hard to not get beat down by it. I’ve played to empty rooms (still do!). I’ve worried about not getting enough likes and listens to generate any kind of heat. It’s an impossible mountain to climb. But you’ve just got to remind yourself why you do it. I do it because at the end of the day, I just really, really, really love to sing. I really, really, really love music.
7) If you could change anything about the music industry, what would it be?
I wish it wasn’t so damn hard to make a living with music. I have friends who have had incredible success with music. I know people who have toured Europe, who have thousands upon thousands of fans etc., but who still have to work a day job to make ends meet. This industry is basically pay-to-play. Unless you’re under a label, you have to finance your own career. Kickstarter is great, but you can’t do one for every single you put out, every EP you want to release, every music video you want to create. You have to fund these things yourself. And you get next to nothing for the finished product.
8) What is the best way you’ve found to market yourself as an artist?
I think my strength lies is my live performances. I feel like I often play for strangers who’ve never heard me before, and turn them into fans. But aside from that, it’s really a game of networking, both online and in-person. It’s important to recognize the tools you have at your disposal, and also to seize any opportunity when it arises.
9) Tell us about your latest single “I’ll Remember You” and the inspiration behind it?
I’ll Remember You is, as so many songs are, about a boy. Actually two boys. The first part is about someone I used to date, who I was so excited about. I thought the chemistry and attraction were so there, and that his feelings were in-line with mine. But then he kind of ghosted me. It was just disappointment honestly. But the second part is about the one who came after. That’s my current boyfriend, who ended up being everything I wanted and more. He makes me more happy than I’ve ever been.
10) What next on the horizon for you?
I’ve got a pretty solid plan for what I’m going to do in the immediate future: Firstly, I’m going to finish the EP that I’ve been working on (off-and-on) for about a year. I’ve finally got the resources at my disposal to finish it to my satisfaction. Secondly, I’m going to put a heavy focus on street performing. I feel like it’s a great way to just make myself heard by people who would otherwise never know who I was. Also, maybe get some cash tips to put towards my music? Sure!
Check out her performance of I’ll Remember You on The Neon Sessions!