Solo Musician Interview: Lisa Kowalski

Lisa Kowalski Photo

Tell me about yourself?
I’m Lisa Kowalski, a 19-year-old singer/songwriter from Paisley. Other than my obvious love for songwriting and performing, I also love animals (especially dogs and sea life), baking/cooking, conspiracy theories, hikes and just chilling with a group of close friends or my boyfriend.

What Instrument(s) do you play, if any? And how long have you been playing your respective instruments(s)?
I can play piano, ukulele, (five string) banjo and guitar. The main one I perform with is guitar, which I taught myself around 6/7 years ago, simply because I feel it is the most versatile and easiest to carry around. The banjo and ukulele were Christmas presents that I got around 3-4 years ago and also taught myself. However, piano was the first instrument I learned. I started going to lessons when I was around 8 with an amazing piano teacher, who unfortunately passed away. I stopped playing for a while after that as it really affected me, but I picked it back up after I learnt guitar and I think of him whenever I play piano.

Who are your biggest influences?
This is where a lot of people would bring up parents/grandparents who are also musical but none of my close family can play an instrument or sing! I have a couple of uncles in England who are excellent musicians and I always loved getting to watch them perform when I was younger.

Artists who have influenced me are Bruce Springsteen, Taylor Swift, Ryn Weaver and Orla Gartland. I admire their lyrical talents greatly and they’ve had a huge impact on me and my song writing.

What song(s) do you remember most from your childhood?
I’m not proud of this answer, but High School Musical is the first one that comes to mind. I had a karaoke CD of all the tracks in the movie that I would sing along to constantly. My dad also liked to play a lot of Metallica and AC/DC, which clearly didn’t influence my music that much, but it stood out to me!

Do you perform covers and if so what’s your go to?
I do prefer to perform original music just because that’s where I feel my passion and talent lies but when I am performing covers, Dancing in The Dark is always one of my top choices! I think it’s a very relatable song to a lot of songwriters trying to make it in this industry and it’s also an upbeat one that everyone knows and likes to sing along to, so it makes for a fun starter!

What genre of music do you consider your work to be?
I started writing when I was 13, probably a year after I discovered my love for country/folk music so I would say that is the genre that tends to influence me most when I write! If I had to define it to one genre, I would call it acoustic pop/country.

Do you have a process for writing your songs?
Not particularly. I often just get lyric ideas that come to me throughout the day, especially when I’m emotional, that I’ll write in my phone or record a voice memo of. I usually like to finish my lyrics before I work on a melody though, just because writing lyrics is my favourite part of the entire process.

Have you released any music yet, and if so, how has it been received?
I have an EP and a single on all music platforms! The EP is called Free Spirits, which I released in April 2017. It was nerve-wracking as my first time releasing anything, but it was received well! Hearts of Gold, the single from the EP, now has almost 20k views on YouTube which is incredible. The single is called I Do, which I released last year. It was quite different from the EP but it received great support before I had released it so I knew it was the best next step I could take.

Are you planning any music releases for the near future?
As of right now, I’m on a little bit of a break for mental health reasons so I’m not thinking too far ahead but I have plans to record later this year which I’m excited to do again. I have so many songs that I can’t wait for people to hear.

If you have released music, where can fans to be find it?
My music is on all streaming platforms! Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon etc. I also have a couple of music videos on YouTube as well as some live recorded songs. There’s a box of physical copies of CDs sitting in my house too, waiting for a loving home, so if CDs are your thing you can message me on Facebook, and I will get one sent out to you!

Do you have social media, if so, please provide links?

Where have you performed? What are your favourite and least favourite venues?
I don’t know if it counts as a venue but one of my favourite places to sing was on an open top bus parked outside Radio City in New York during the Tartan Parade! It was something I won’t forget.

For more local venues, I love the Hug and Pint – great sound, intimate venue, lovely staff and the restaurant has vegan food that is to die for! St. Luke’s is also incredible, it is one of the most gorgeous venues I have ever played in and I definitely recommend everyone going to a gig there!

Do you have any gigs in the near future, and if so where and when?
My next gig isn’t for a while but I’m looking forward to it – it’s at Party in the Palace in August! I’ll be on the breakthrough stage at 1:50 on the 10th of august if anyone’s going and wants to catch my set!

How do you balance your music with other obligations?
It can be a little hard to balance everything what with gigs, meetings/arrangements, writing, recording, etc. But all those things are things that I love doing and things that are going to help me get to where I want to go so it’s all worth it to me.

Following on from that question, what has been your biggest challenge as a performer and have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so then how?
Trying to be a musician while dealing with mental illnesses is extremely difficult. When I started to struggle with depression it affected how I went on as a musician. I became more insecure and didn’t feel like I was good enough or attractive enough to perform, I became more anti-social and didn’t know how to talk to people and I just couldn’t find the motivation for a lot of things, even if I loved doing them. It’s a journey I’m still trying to work my way through but after opening up about it and getting so much support, it has definitely helped.

What advice do you have for beginners?
I think it’s super important to focus on yourself. Music is such a competitive industry which can make you look at other people and think “Why are they doing better than me? What am I doing wrong? How do I change myself?” but there are going to be so many people who look at you and think the exact same thing. We’re all trying to make it in to a super tough career and I think rather than comparing ourselves with other people we should support other people and just focusing on bettering ourselves, not to reach the standard or progress of another but to be happy with ourselves and be the best we can be.

And let’s end with something a little different…Which famous person, living or dead, would you have dinner with and why?
I’ve already met Taylor Swift and I’m going to say her just because she was so lovely! She baked cookies for us all and they were incredible so I feel like she would make an awesome dinner for me, I could pet her cats and she could give me some advice and maybe we could write a song together! I actually had a dream once that me and Taylor wrote a song together once, so it is literally a dream of mine.


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