WORDS: GEORGIA RAWSON | PHOTOS: ARTHUR WALWIN
“This is a story of boy meets girl, but you should know up front that this is not a love story.”
In the summer of 2009, the indie gem that was 500 Days Of Summer graced our screens. More than just a narrative of what happens when true love is, well not true love, and an approach to the at times difficult navigation of the waters of not just love in the 21st century, but becoming an adult, and the emotions and moments you face within your 20s, the film became a modern day classic.
Fast forward eleven years and we’re sat in London, 3540 miles from character Tom Hanson’s hometown of New Jersey, discussing the humour, honesty, and narrative with Lizzy Farrall, a self-proclaimed ‘dirty’ pop meets punk artist. Much like the fictional character of Summer Finn, Farrall has the charm to spare, the witty humour, magnetism, and yet still has a way to embrace the sometimes off balance way in which she shows herself as human, someone with real emotions, real trauma, and vulnerability. And it’s these characteristics that have not only placed her on our cover this month, coincidentally during a monumental month that has defined what is to be a woman these days. This level of captivation, and with it it’s emotional spectrum, transcends across the synth meets rock, rock meets indie, and even saxophone featuring soundtrack that is her coming debut record, Bruise.
“I FINALLY FEEL LIKE AN ACTUAL WOMAN.”
“I’m a BIG movie fan.” States Farrall down the phone. “I loved 500 Days Of Summer because it was just so real, and I guess you walk away from learning a lot, not about romance but yourself.”
Much like the indie blockbuster’s soundtrack, Farrall’s debut record runs as her own soundtrack, with a fluid, an even at times random switching between genres, all of her tracks also so perfectly scoring individual moments. It’s the soundtrack to her coming of age.
“I finally feel like an actual woman.” She muses. “The time I recorded the record was such a big time in my life, not just because I had done something I had always wanted to do (record an album), but I also wanted to take that step further in my life.”
Whilst it’s not rare these days for lyricists to tell us a story through their music, it’s also the freedom that Lizzy has been afforded when it came to the production of the record that has made for such a cinematic release. From the Netflix opener worthy bop along that is Games, through to the police car sampled opener of, Addict, Farrall takes a moment to laugh and embrace what’s been able to achieve. “I had a friend tell me the other day that they were on the bus and listening to addict thinking they were in an actual cop car chase!”, She muses. “But that’s what I wanted to do with this record. I had this wonderful sense of freedom where I was just allowed to go in and work on the record in pretty much any way I wanted. I wanted to create that music when you look out of the window and imagine yourself in a film or a music video. Why can’t life, even if just for a minute, be like a film?”
For many of us the end of adolescence is marked by the years when we leave education, a time where we’re meant to feel security, and are moulded by the message of constantly being ‘made prepared for adult life’. But if you were turn towards the cinematically sonic, Knocked For Six it’s one of the most painstakingly honest releases of the last decade. Within moments of it’s release as a single from the forthcoming record Farrall took to social media to put out a statement, explaining her internal monologue, and even fears about the track.
“WHY CAN’T LIFE, EVEN IF JUST FOR A MINUTE, BE LIKE A FILM?”
“I know it might sound a bit cliché, but Knocked For Six was one of the hardest tracks I’ve ever had to write. It’s even a bit painful to listen to now because it’s just so raw.” Sighs Farrall, the emotion becoming apparent in her voice, an emotion of discomfort.
“I’ll be honest I didn’t have a good time growing up. It was pretty traumatic for some time. Every kid goes through that period of course, but I did not have a good time, and I really struggled fitting in, because I was the weird kid who didn’t fit in, didn’t dress like everyone. I’d try to fit in with a crowd of people who only liked me being there to pick on me and belittle me. I went through the teen years trying to desperately find this supposed group of friends I needed.”
However, it is not just her willingness to open up in her music that has demonstrated both Lizzy’s self-strength and vulnerability, but like all great artists, an ability to convey that into her art. It’s this level of self-compassion, honesty, and sometimes pain that has over the years given many women relatable artists. Early P!nk records discussed the trauma of divorce and drug abuse, Natalie Imbruglia’s 90’s anthem, Torn was an open discussion for self-abuse, and even in more recent years artists such as Lizzo have been claiming Grammys, and the hearts of young women everywhere through an exploration of the importance of self-love, feelings, and even switching around the roles of modern day dating.
For a moment we sit and discuss with Lizzy our shared common ground of growing up in the 90s, a time where our parents often overlooked the ‘Parental Advisory’ bars slapped on the front of records, and how even today these early looks into adult life whilst a child has shaped Farrall’s music.
“I WANT THAT TIMELESS STAMP, THAT ONE WHERE WE LOOK BACK AT IT AND WONDER WHY OUR PARENTS LET US LISTEN TO IT?!”
“I look back at listening to the Bloodhound Gang and just think how, just how was I allowed to listen to something so dirty?”, squeals Lizzy. “I used to idolise Kylie, and she wrote some DIRTY songs. Then again there’s a track on this record that seems fun, and my friend Ryan and I have a dance routine for, but that song is about… wanting to have sex in the car. That’s the thing about pop. It’s like a dirty word, but its that fun kind of dirty.”
The promiscuous track in question is the self-proclaimed “cheesy love Ballad” that is Nightrider. It’s one that Farrall doesn’t feel is shameless, one that expresses a vital part of becoming a woman, the exploration of sexuality, and what this means as part of our identity.
“I want that timeless stamp, the ones we had when we looked back on releases and questioned why our parents let us listen to it! And that song was just fun for me to do. People forget that creative people have fun. The friends I have shown we’re all in the car with this made up dance for it (that’s how cheesy it is), but for me that was like everything is super personal and yet it’s not, I guess people should be more open.”
For a while Farrall discusses this new found freedom, how it’s impacted her music, but above all allowed her to take risks and make ‘jumps’ into ‘the real world.’
“The minute I finished this record I moved from Chester to Birmingham and away from the closeness of my mum’s house, which is a big deal because we’re close.” Reminisces Lizzy. “The minute I finished the album I thought fuck it, and I thought if I’m going to move out the time do it was now.”
“GENRE IS DEAD. POP ISN’T SUCH A DIRTY WORD.”
Moving away from her small hometown and to the city of Birmingham saw Lizzy delve into an entirely new world. Sharing a renovated college with various other musicians and creatives, the ability to connect with these other artists in some ways make sense as to how, and why Lizzy’s record is such a far throw, and development from her acoustic debut EP.
“Because you’re so far away from home, and you have no eyes watching you, you have more room to express yourself. I’m having this freedom to be the I person I am for the first time ever, both personally and creatively. I’m making the music I want to make, and this confidence to dress how I want… not you know, provocatively (laughs), but confidently. I think once you become comfortable with who you are, you can begin to get more confident in your creativity.”
Self-exploration for an artist means more than just looking in the mirror and experimenting with the identity seen before the naked eye. It’s about self-admittance, a never ending curiosity, and sometimes, taking the world of rock… and throwing in a saxophone.
“We’ve said this before you and I,” Concludes Lizzy. “Genre is dead. Pop isn’t such a dirty word, and I think that comes from people being afraid to push out those boundaries.” And for Lizzy with her debut record, Bruise this month, it’s about taking the leap into the unknown, and heading down the rabbit hole that is being an artist in the 21st Century.
“The whole white rabbit means to chasing this trauma and getting over it by music. It ate me alive but it made me who I am because I learnt how to use music to express positively who I was, who I am, and who I will be.”
Bruise Is Out Now Via Pure Noise Records.
ORDER YOUR PHYSICAL COPY OF ISSUE #67 HERE.