Folk-rock guitarist/songwriter Lissie (born Elisabeth Corrin Maurus) was raised in Rock Island, Illinois and began making a name for herself playing shows around Fort Collins, Colorado while she was a student at Colorado State University.
After collaborating with DJ Harry on the song, “All My Life,” which soon appeared on TV shows including Veronica Mars and House and releasing a four-song, self-titled EP in 2007, she went on tour opening for Lenny Kravitz and soon signed with Fat Possum Records for her label debut, Why You Runnin. Since then, she’s released three critically-acclaimed albums starting with her 2009 breakout, Catching a Tiger (Columbia), which went gold in the UK.
In February, Lissie released her latest album, My Wild West (Lionboy/Thirty Tigers), where she explored her recent move to an Iowa farm following several years of living on the West Coast. For its lead single, “Daughters,” which was inspired by Liberian peace activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee, she partnered with charity:water, an organization focused on bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations. As part of a “pay what you want” promotion for International Women’s Day, Lissie raised over $4500 for the cause and was invited to perform the song on CNN International to raise further awareness.
In addition to My Wild West, 2016 will also see the release of Lissie’s first live album, Live at Union Chapel. “For years I traveled with a band and while I really loved that dynamic, I wanted to get back to solo acoustic shows for a bit,” she says. “I started out as a solo act and missed how much space it allowed my voice! Going into last year’s solo European run, I had it in my mind that we should record the London show. It was at this beautiful church venue, Union Chapel with great acoustics and a cozy, intimate setting…It’s obviously different from my studio albums & band shows too. It’s really just nice to switch it up!”
Along with going from band to solo, she also “switched it up” when it came to the gear she chose for the tour. “I keep my old vintage guitars off the road and save them for the studio. I have a ’74 Thinline Telecaster, a ‘56 Epiphone Casino and 50s Gibson acoustic that sound gorgeous on recordings. Unfortunately I can’t risk traveling with them. On the road, I use a reissue Fender Thinline Tele and a small-bodied acoustic from their new Paramount Parlour guitars line. Fender hooks it up for me. I also use weird dynamic drum mics on my voice in the studio. You wouldn’t think they would work out but they do!
Just before the album’s physical release on November 25, Lissie shared a few tips for musicians looking to record their own performances. “I want to preface my tips by saying that in the past I’d hoped to record more of my full band shows,” she says. “Unfortunately, we were never in a position to get it quite as mic’d as we’d like for recording and would end up with board mixes that we didn’t ever mix or release!”
- Start simple. An acoustic show is a great first step in recording a live gig! It’s easy enough to isolate the guitar and vocal and makes for easy mixing!
- Choose a venue that will work in your favor! A lot of times, the old theaters or churches have been designed more with sound in mind than some newer club, which may have just been a converted, multi purpose space.
- If solo, consider recording several shows and pick your favorite.
- If you psych yourself out because the show is being recorded, it could take away from what makes live shows so amazing, which is spontaneity! So try to relax and put the pressure out of your mind.
- Be sure to have back up strings, batteries, cables etc on hand and ideally a tech or tour manager around if anything goes awry!