On her debut EP, released just yesterday via Seven Four Seven Six Records, Glasgow-based singer-songwriter Lizzie Reid confronts the kind of heartache that seems to impede on your ability to remember how it all even transpired, let alone articulate it. “I don’t really mind now/ That our time is done and dusted/ But I remember fearing this feeling/ That I’m feeling,” she sings on the raw opener ‘Tribute’, delicately drawing out the final word as if to compensate for a lack of words. Throughout the poignant yet dynamic 22-minute collection, Reid channels the full intensity of those difficult and often confusing emotions, discovering more about herself and learning to open up in the process. She’s described the stunning, Laura Marling-esque ‘Always Lovely’ as being about “obsessing with the idea of perfection and worth,” but vulnerability seeps through every corner of the record, which sways from the stirring, string-backed chorus of ‘Seamless’ to the guitar-powered, liberating climax of ‘Been Thinking About You’. Recorded with producer Oli Barton Wood and completed just days before the first UK-wide lockdown, Cubicle is a promising introduction to the 23-year-old’s emotional and melodic strengths.
We caught up with Lizzie Reid for the latest edition of our Artist Spotlight interview series, where we showcase up-and-coming artists and talk to them about their music.
How did you discover music was a passion of yours?
I think I always loved music since I was very wee. I remember being five or six and being really emotionally impacted by music in films and just music that my parents were playing around the house. I remember just closing my eyes and pretending it was me performing the songs, and then realized that I could do it myself and started getting piano lessons. And it wasn’t until I was maybe 16 or 17 that I realized I could potentially do it as a career. It was always a dream – in a way, it wasn’t even a dream because I just didn’t think it was at all achievable. But it wasn’t until I started actually playing live and getting some support from people in the industry, when I was about 16, that I realized, “Oh, maybe I could actually do this.” And then the passion just kind of got more intense and it becomes a bit of an all-consuming obsession.
You mentioned music in films, do you have any particular memories of film moments you were drawn to?
You know that the film Jack Frost? I think there was a couple of versions of it, but it was the one where Stevie Nicks was singing ‘Landslide’. That iconic scene when he’s building the snowman and that was the song in the background – I just remember being, I think, about six or something, and just being like, “I’ve never heard anything like that.” I just thought her voice was so unusual and the song was beautiful.
That’s quite a young age to start getting into Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac!
[laughter] I remember as well at the time, because I was wee and the only kind of pop music I’d heard was kind of chart stuff, and I remember thinking, That woman singing ‘Landslide’ has such an unusual voice, I wonder what it would sound like, you know, if Katy Perry sang it. And then I was like, looking back on it I thought that’s awful, like the reason it’s so good was because of her voice. I just find it really funny that I even thought that.
But Stevie Nicks is like my ultimate queen. It wasn’t until I was a bit older that I even looked into who she was, though. I think I was 12, 13, and I really learned to appreciate that kind of gravelly and almost imperfect kind of vocal style that I hadn’t really heard before that point. And she had a massive influence particularly in my early teens with my vocal delivery, which was surprisingly easy to get for a 13, 14-year-old. People used to say that it sounded like I smoked 50 a day, which I did not. I don’t really know how that happened, I just had a very unhealthy singing technique.
Are there any other artists who got you really excited about music at an early age, and then others who really changed or shaped the way you approached songwriting later on?
Yeah, so it was Stevie Nicks first, and I remember around that time I was listening to a lot of old music, like the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, all of these were my favorite bands that I listened to. And One Direction, but we’ll just like forget about that. [laughs] So I had quite a similar taste to my parents, I suppose. And it was that kind of way that there’s a lot of that chat about how, “Oh, music isn’t the same anymore. Music is has changed so much and it’s just this chart music now that is just trash.” And I just remember discovering that there’s actually so much good music happening right now and that attitude actually totally isn’t a thing. I think it was when I discovered Laura Marling that I just realized there was a whole bunch of really young musicians doing amazing stuff. It was Laura Marling that changed the way I thought about songwriting and it took me down a different road.
I know you were playing music for quite a while before recording your debut EP. What made you feel like this was the right time to do that?
I feel like it almost wasn’t a choice. At that point, it was just such a natural thing that happened and we’re like, “Okay, this is it now.” I’d been gigging as a solo artist for maybe three or four years at that point, and I had recorded a few times with the intention of releasing music but it never felt quite right. And just all of a sudden we were like, “Right, this year is the year,” and I was so grateful that we had taken that time. I’m just very thankful that we didn’t release anything a few years prior to that because I don’t think I was ready, you know. I’m 23 now and I think being given that time to kind of figure out myself and my sound.
What was the process of making and recording the EP like?
It was so much fun. We just turned my house basically into a studio, and the drum kit was in the TV room, and then our control room was down the other end of the hall. So we had wires all down the hall. It was just really really nice because everyone that recorded on the record I’m really close to; Katrina is my cousin, she plays the cello on it, and Oli who produced it, I had met a couple of times and we’d written together and I just knew that I wanted to work with him. So everything just felt very comfortable, which is unusual for me because I just find recording quite stressful.
Lyrically as well, there are a lot of personal and intimate moments on the record. Were there any points during the writing or recording process where you felt it was especially challenging to channel those emotions?
Yes, actually. When I wrote ‘Seamless’, in particular, when I – well, I wrote them all when I wasn’t feeling so great, to be honest, but ‘Seamless’ in particular, when I wrote it I was really not feeling good, wasn’t in a good place, and by the time I came to actually record it, I was in just a completely different mindset. So it was kind of a strange challenge. When I perform live in front of an audience I feel like it’s so much easier to tap into that emotion that you felt when you wrote it, but for me recording is still quite a strange environment. So it did take quite a lot to try and get back into that headspace and create that emotion.
Do you remember what it was like writing that song?
Yeah, that was one of the first times I wrote with someone else, I was writing with Jessica Sharman down in London. And I remember it was the most direct I’d ever been in my life, writing, and I think that started a bit of a chain naturally. Because I feel like a lot of the other songs in the EP that I wrote after ‘Seamless’ are all quite direct and quite personal, which I didn’t always write like that, to be honest. I think I tried to separate myself from the song a little bit before that, and I think ‘Seamless’ was one of the first experiences where I was very, very present and very upfront with writing, and I felt quite uncomfortable, to be honest. But I think it was worth it, going through that process.
My favorite track on the EP is probably ‘Been Thinking About You’, just because of how ambitious and almost playful it is. What went into the making of that song?
Yes, so I just recorded the original demo at home on my own GarageBand. The screams that are on the final track are from the original GarageBand demo, because I just loved the exact scream that I had done that day. And it wasn’t originally considered for the first EP, but I felt like I wanted to have a switch of dynamic a little bit and take it somewhere else. I’m glad I made that decision because I think it’s a bit of a relief from the other tracks to have that change of pace.
Do you feel like it’s more of an indication of where you might want to take your sound in the future?
Definitely, I think that’s why I wanted something like that in there. Maybe this is just my own insecurity and me projecting a little bit, but I didn’t want to be considered as just a sad singer-songwriter musician. That’s something I had a bit of a complex about. And I love sad singer-songwriter music, you know, that is a massive part of me and what I do, I just wanted to kind of hint that we can be going somewhere else here, at some point.
I wanted to ask you about the title of the EP, Cubicle. What does that represent for you?
‘Cubicle’ was written just about a night that I had, just on a night out. And I was just having a bit of a panic attack, to be honest, and that’s something that I have struggled with in the past and still do. And I tend to find myself locked in cubicles very often because I just need to get away, I need to shut myself in. And that’s what that song was about, it was a particular night where I was just totally overwhelmed by the evening, and I was just like, “I need to calm myself down and just hide away for a bit so I can come back out and just face the night and get through it” kind of thing. And I wanted to name the EP after it because I think that song was a real moment for me at the beginning of my healing process, I suppose. It felt like I was letting go of something, finally, so it was nice to end the EP with that song. I also have ridiculous stage fright so I do spend a lot of my time in cubicles before going on stage and stuff as well, just locking myself in there for a bit.
You said it was like letting go of something, is that what it kind of feels like releasing the EP as well?
Yeah, it’s like a bit of closure. It’s been very intense, because like I said this is happening in 2019, and to be revisiting these emotions so much with, you know, the press stuff, and having to speak about it a lot. It’s been almost like going over all those feelings again. And so it’s almost like I’m letting go of it all again by releasing it and now I can move on to the next chapter. I’ve done a lot of reflecting, I’ve had so much time because of lockdown as well to think about everything. So it will be nice to get it out and just finally feel like that chapter has closed.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.