Lisa Kowalski has came on leaps and bounds since she first took it upon herself to follow her music dreams. Performed at high profile gigs/events, just released her 3rd single “No More Time”, which she produced herself, was asked to write a song for Paisley, her home town, who count her as a VIB – A “Very Important Buddy” and supported her from an early stage. A “Buddy” is a term for someone who hails from Paisley.
Photo Credit: Sam Morris,
She has also performed at New York Tartan Week and was asked back again, to perform at this years event in April, 2020.
She is also currently studying for her degree in Music Performance & Production and is on Uni related visit to Holland until Summer. We tracked her down to ask her about her music career thus far and her songs / music of course.
Q: What first introduced you to music, how long have you been playing and why choose the guitar ?
“Music is just something I’ve always loved! I didn’t have anything else that I felt I was naturally good at or had a passion for – when I was young I tried sports, dancing, acting, etc. but it always came back to singing for me and I was able to start taking it seriously when I got my first guitar at 12 and started to teach myself. I’ve since learned 4 other instruments (piano, ukulele, banjo and mandolin) but since guitar got me into writing it is my favourite one to use.”
Q: Who are your main influences – are they the same for songwriting and singing or do you have different ones for both ?
“Taylor Swift is definitely my main inspiration for writing – I listened to her constantly when I first started writing and I really admire her ability to shift genres, tell stories and put feelings into such eloquent lyrics. Ryn Weaver is also an incredible writer and I wish I’d wrote a lot of her songs haha! Especially “Reasons Not To Die”. Springsteen is another huge inspiration for writing who I adore. As for singing, I think I unintentionally draw inspiration from all of the artists I listen to, so I can’t place a specific artist who inspires my vocal performances, but I reckon there are a few who have influenced me.”
Q: How do you approach writing a new song…what processes do you go through. Melody first, or guitar/chord progression ideas come first…..or is it a melody you have and then write for that – or does it all differ for each song ?
”There isn’t any specific “approach” for me – it all just kind of happens naturally. I don’t need to sit down and try to find inspiration or anything, I find that lyrics or melodies just come to me at random points, so I make a note/recording of them and turn it into a song later.”
Q: What are your main topic areas for songwriting, love, loss, life etc ?
”They’re all just drawn from my real life so there isn’t a specific topic I’ve ever tried to focus on, if I feel or experience something it usually turns into a song. So I have songs about love, heartbreak, death, politics, myself, mental health and more.”
Q: How do you get ideas for songs, do you listen to other songwriters/music artists ?
“There have been times where I’ve struggled to write/come up with good ideas, but if that happens, I usually just come back to the song later and find that it’ll come to me if I don’t try to force it out”.
6) Have you had writers block and if so how do you cope with it – just leave it until it’s ready to come out, or “fight to write” ?
“While on antidepressants, I struggled with writers block quite a lot and found I was writing a lot less frequently, but since coming off them I’ve been writing more than ever and haven’t found myself in writers block. Usually, if I can’t find good inspiration though, it’s best to wait until it comes naturally, instead of forcing a song out or it won’t be it’s best in my experience.”
Q: How was your new single “No More Time” recorded – in a studio, Home Studio, who produced it and how did you finance it ?
“I recorded it in the studio at UWS in Ayr where I am studying Commercial Music. I recorded and produced it myself there which took a lot of time, stress and tears, but the feeling of accomplishment that I got when the song was finished was incredible, so I definitely feel it was worth it and it was a great opportunity to learn”.
Q: Have you had any interest from Labels or Publishers ?
“I have had some interest from a few labels, but unfortunately the contracts haven’t been for me – they’d want me to change my name/style of music, sing covers, sing songs not written by me. I don’t want to be signed to anything unless I know I can be my authentic self and sing the words that I write.”
Q: What’s the plan with the single and for 2020 – more gigs etc ?
“I released my single “No More Time” and performed it at the launch, I’ve since moved to Tilburg in Holland, to study and while here, experience a new music scene. Perform as much as possible and connect with musicians here. Once I move back, I hope to keep performing in Paisley/Glasgow and beyond and hopefully a new EP can be released and I’m preparing my new set for New York Tartan Week in April.”
10) What stumbling blocks have you had or issues faced as a performing music artist/songwriter ?
“I’ve personally felt a big struggle trying to be seen as a musician and not just a girl with a guitar. I find there’s a certain stigma behind female musicians who don’t have a band – if you have a band you’re taken seriously, praised, given a lot more opportunities. Whereas, if you still just play with a guitar, people assume you’re going to play covers of Ed Sheeran or write songs with the same three chords, even if that is far from the case.”
Q: What’s planned next…will you release an album or just release singles or EP’s ?
“I plan to release another single and then an EP. The next single will be very different from “No More Time”, but I have so many songs that I’m very excited for people to hear and I’m so eager to record and release them as soon as possible.”
Wishing Lisa every success in 2020 and beyond….
Lisa’s last single “Hearts of Gold”, about her home town Paisley
By Pete Carroll (March 2020)