Lisa Loeb has “A Simple trick to Happiness” and she tells us
A jack of all trades, GRAMMY® award-winning Lisa Loeb, is the testament of a true entrepreneur. Loeb has a resume that boasts Billboard chart-topping singles, hit television shows, an eyewear collection, and a philanthropic organization. She has always managed to survive in an ever-changing “here today, gone tomorrow” industry. Joining us to dish on her brand new album, A Simple Trick to Happiness, Lisa Loeb tells us everything (and then some).
First off, Congratulations! Your iconic single “Stay (I Missed You)” celebrates its 26th year since topping the Billboard Hot 100. When you think of the 1990s, you automatically think of that song and the accompanying film Reality Bites. How does it feel to have been the first artist to achieve #1 without a recording contract?
Lisa Loeb: It feels great! It was invigorating to be an independent artist at that time. Still, to this day, I have an independent spirit in that I like to have full control over the creation of my work before I seek out my corporate partners to reach the masses. It was such a great way to start the commercial sector of my career. It was cool to be a groundbreaker in that way.
You were one of the first musicians to cross over into the reality TV world before reality TV saturated the market. What was it like filming #1 Single on E!, and would you consider getting back into reality TV today seeing what it has become?
LL: Reality TV takes a tremendous amount of time and effort, particularly because it all comes down to storytelling. Although you film a lot, reality TV is not a documentary. The cameras do not follow you 24/7. I recently revisited #1 Single with my fan club, and I forgot how much work that television show was. The reason I agreed to do the show was to tell a story I felt many could relate to.
At the time, I was a woman in my late thirties trying to balance my career and personal life. It was through this show I realized I had to put a larger focus on my personal life. Everything from producing the show, to editing, to wardrobe, to determining filming locations took an extensive amount of detail. In hindsight, I would return to reality TV as a producer because I like to have control. I would prefer to produce a reality show based on someone else’s life and help them to tell their story. I feel as audience members; we learn a lot about ourselves as well as feel connected to others through watching their story unfold. Producers can present stories in many ways. [We all] can tell a completely different story.
You have released award-winning children’s albums and books. In 2018, you took home the GRAMMY® for Best Children’s Album with Feel What U Feel. What was it like to make that transition musically?
LL: It is very freeing! When you work in a genre of music that is so open, such as the children’s music genre, it all comes back to telling stories. I was able to explore themes, music styles, humor, and aspects even more heartfelt than in my adult music. My goal as a songwriter has always been to figure out a way to say what I have to say without it being so abstract. Thus, I learned a lot doing children’s albums, which I was able to utilize when it came time to work on my latest record.
You are very much an entrepreneur. You have an organic coffee, Wake Up Brew, whose profits also go to your foundation, Camp Lisa. It must feel rewarding to be able to send underserved kids to summer camp and allow them an opportunity they may not be permitted otherwise?
LL: You nailed it! I think what happened was when I made my second children’s record, Camp Lisa, I really wanted people to feel what it feels like to go to camp. That is when I realized I would like to influence and help kids beyond music. I partnered with the organization SCOPE based out of New York to help locate kids who are in need of the summer camp experience. We help find camps that are accredited, safe, and focus on values which I feel are important such as learning, independence,
empowerment, and community. I have participated in political functions and fundraising for various causes. The more hands-on I can be, the more I can get accomplished.
Ten years ago, you founded the Lisa Lobe Eyewear collection. You’ve always been known for your signature cat eyeglasses. What was it like to venture into this field?
LL: It is really exciting! I have worn glasses since I was a kid and always looked for unique frames and styles. I grew to realize glasses can be empowering, positive, and sexy all at the same time. Fans have said watching me wear my glasses in stride on television and on my album covers made them confident to wear theirs. To be able to have an eyewear line, which helps make women of all different ages, skin tones, and face shapes look and feel the way I feel when I wear my glasses makes me happy. Glasses are another way to connect with people, especially when you personalize them. I work directly with the designer who regularly comes to my home, and together we determine trends, designs, shapes, and lenses. I enjoy the creative factor as well as connecting with others. We try to be fashion-forward by staying on-trend and on-brand.
Your album Tails has powered the childhoods of many millennial’s. Given that this year marks its 25th anniversary, what is your favorite track on that album?
LL: I adore “Rose-Colored Times.” The track is quintessential 90s, dark, mysterious, and very grunge. It is based on one of my favorite movies, Paper Moon, starring Tatum O’Neal. The song was actually recorded in Tatum O’Neal’s summer beach house. “Sandalwood” is another favorite because I had originally written it about someone who I had a lot of resentment for and at the last minute decided to flip it and make it into a love song.
As a songwriter, you have written such a wide array of music. What do you find yourself most inspired by? Is there more inspiration in the positive and accomplishments or betrayal and heartbreak?
LL: I am very yin yang. Lately, especially with my new album, the positive take on a stronger role. To be able to see the darkness and difficulty in life, yet also being able to reframe situations in order to find the positive and determine how to get out on the other side, is very much the theme of my new record.
This year you released your 15th studio album, A Simple Trick to Happiness, which is cited as your most personal album to date. The album has received rave reviews, and listeners appear to be receptive to your vulnerability. What was the recording process like?
LL: People have asked me, “Does your record company want you to write another song like “Stay?” Of course, the record company always wants me to write another song like “Stay” because it was a wildly popular song. I had to ask myself, what is it about that song which connects so strongly with the audience? I realized it was one of my most honest songs, where I was simply speaking without editing myself.
Although editing is a huge part of songwriting, I felt like that is what I needed to tap into. With this album, the music is more direct, focused, and complete. I feel like I am communicating a message, the audience is understanding the message and essentially taking it to heart with this album.