Lissie on Kid Cudi, personal success, and Minneapolis

Lissie on Kid Cudi, personal success, and Minneapolis
Photo by Nicolas Bourbaki

It's difficult to label what kind of artist Lissie truly is. The Rock Island, Illinois artist has the soul of a blues musician and the mentality and swagger of a '70s rocker, yet will cover Kid Cudi as if "Pursuit of Happiness" was written for her. The singer is headed into the studio later this summer, but will be making a stop in Minneapolis before hibernating and working on her new album.

Gimme Noise spoke with Lissie in between a canoe trip in the Boundary Waters and her sold-out show at the Varsity Theater show tonight.

Last week, the artist took a trip to the Boundary Waters to get away from the world. "It was awesome, but it's grueling. You just have what's on your back, carrying your canoe, and you're with complete strangers. Being able to disconnect is really hard to do on my own. I needed it forced upon me, and I really enjoyed it, but of course the minute I got back, I was addicted to my cell phone again."

No one can accuse Lissie of resting on her laurels, and despite all the touring she has been doing, the singer is anxious to get back in the studio. "I feel like people are going to forget about me; I've been gone too long, and I need to get going because I crave it. It's what I love to do." Many of the new pieces are similar to her 2010 Catching a Tiger she says, but when asked on who she would like to collaborate with on the new album, she says with no hesitation, "Kid Cudi. I think it would be fun to do a song with him, but I really have no idea how to make that happen."

Lissie is known for her live shows, often throwing covers into her set. The singer most recently recorded her version of Fleetwood Mac's "Go Your Own Way." Using them as a bridge to her own music, Lissie says, "That was never my intention when I started playing covers. It was more because I had an emotional relationship with the subject matter of the song, and I thought, 'Oh, I really like this song; I'll teach it to my band.'" When asked if she thought it was compromising her artistic integrity by doing other musicians' music, she replies, "I've released more songs of my own than covers, so I feel I have a balance. I've never had anyone say that I was selling out for doing covers, but I don't care. There's still more songs that I would love to do."

Since the release of Catching a Tiger, besides traveling the world and playing more shows, Lissie maintains that she is the same person. "I don't want to be incredibly famous by any means. I think it would be the worst thing ever to have people constantly coming up to you on the street; I'm such a nerd, and I feel like there should be some mystery there. When you meet your favorite artist, you're almost always going to be disappointed. Some people are really good at acting the part: cool and mysterious, but that's not who they really are. That's great for them if they can present that illusion; I personally can't do that. I think back in the '70s there were all these musicians that didn't have social networking. Technology takes some of the romanticism and fun out of the experience. Nowadays, there's not a a place where the music can stand for itself."

As with most musicians, Lissie's definition of success stems from the need to feel relevant and satisfied with her craft. She says, "I would think success is being happy -- having time in your life for love and being healthy. I think it's being creatively free and financially stable." When prompted if she feels she has achieved these goals, the singer says, "I have these things for the most part now, but I'm working towards them in a bigger way. On a smaller, specific level, success would be winning a Grammy and owning a home in Iowa and California -- and also finding a man I don't drive totally insane. [laughs] It means a lot of things. I don't know; it's such a big question. I'm sure generally it means being fulfilled by what you do."

The band recently added a new member to the live show that she says addresses the past with everything she's done up until now. "I'm gonna play half my set that is old material, and I'm gonna test drive new stuff. I feel real safe when I'm in Minneapolis, and I don't know why you all are so great to us. We feel real loved and essentially like rock stars. It's easier to share new pieces when I am comfortable, and I know people will be supportive of that."

Lissie will be performing at the Varsity Theater on Tuesday, July 10 with Claire de Lune.
18+, $16 adv, $18 door, 7 pm - This show is sold out.

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