Written by Sam Kohn
Based in Brighton, singer-songwriter LiSA LO is fast becoming a recognised voice in the local scene thanks to regular appearances in some of the city’s most iconic underground venues. Combining elements of jazz, R&B, and soul, LiSA pulls from a diverse range of influences to create a sound that’s uniquely her own – smooth, sun-drenched, and disarmingly honest. Fresh off the release of her latest single, ‘Sweet‘, we caught up with LiSA to discuss her future plans as well as the important role of songwriting in her life.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself? Where are you based and what do you do?
‘My name is Lisa Lo and I’m a 22-year-old musician based in Brighton. Since lockdown has been lifted, I’ve finally been able to get back to performing, spending time in the studio, and meeting up with other artists. I feel very blessed to be in Brighton because it’s such a diverse city filled with all sorts of creatives and different personalities. It’s both motivating and inspiring.’
How did you get into music, and what does your creative process look like?
‘I got into music at a very young age, but I started to develop a real love for it when I realised I could express myself through my songs and writing. It became a comfort and a saviour. Through school, I always felt like an outcast and as if I was alienated from everyone else. I wasn’t the smartest in the room and I was continuously told I wouldn’t make it anywhere if I wasn’t successful in my academic studies. As a creative that was heavy and terrifying to hear, because all my brain could comprehend was music. The last year of high school, I had a music teacher who really believed in me. I was so grateful for her. She gave me hope. And from then on, I started to truly discover myself.
Songwriting to me means so much more than just a pen and paper. Once I start feeling something I instantly start writing. It feels good to bleed on paper; it just flows. And I can’t stop. It’s my therapy that will never give up on me. It’s my peace. It helps me understand myself and my most complex emotions. A lot of the time I have no intention of anyone hearing the songs I write because I want them for me and me alone. Writing is how I process my life… how I cope.’
We can see you’re a regular on the Brighton circuit, performing in venues like Green Door Store and The Old Market. How would you describe the Brighton music scene, and what do you like about performing there?
‘If I were to describe to Brighton music scene in one word, it would be alive. There’s not a single venue in Brighton where you won’t find live music happening every week. Brighton thrives. I like that it’s quite a small city but is very much still on the map. It makes it feel like a proper home. If I have a gig, I know I’ll be meeting new people and forming new connections; it feels safe. It means a lot for me to feel like that, because going through life, feeling isolated and having no sense of belonging, it’s a huge deal to finally feel like I have a purpose.’
Who are your main artistic influences?
‘Growing up I listened mostly to old-school music. Whitney Huston, Ella Fitzgerald, Sam Cooke, Donny Hathaway, Corrine Bailey Rae, Michael Jackson, Etta James, and Nat King Cole. And then at the moment I’m listening to lots of: Summer Walker, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, Jorja Smith, Joy Crookes, Pip Millet, and Gregory Porter.’
What tracks do you have on repeat right now?
‘Erykah Badu – Window Seat, Loyle Carner – Desoleil, Steve Lacy – N Side, Sonder – Too Fast, Montell Fish – Fall in Love with You, Taste of Pluto – Scorpio’s Letter, Ms. Lauryn Hill – Just Like the Water, SWV – Weak, Drake and YEBBA – Yebba’s Heartbreak, Gaidaa – Stranger.’
As an independent artist, how do you go about getting yourself and your music out there?
‘My weekends and most weekdays involve me going to as many gigs and events as I can to meet new faces and network. It’s really benefiting because it’s a chance to brand yourself and make yourself known, but the best part is that people will then spread your name around for you.
Social media is a big part of marketing yourself these days because it alerts people to what you have going on and the moves you’re making, but nothing compares to face-to-face connections. People remember, and that’s what these events are here for at the end of the day.’
Halsey, Charli XCX, and FKA Twigs have all recently spoken out against the pressure from labels to go viral on TikTok. What do you think this trend means for the music industry?
‘I think it’s just another great platform to showcase yourself and your art to the world. The TikTok algorithm is really something and even I have gone viral a few times! Ultimately, a lot of great opportunities can come from TikTok if you throw yourself into it, and I think you just need to expose yourself as much as possible in order to get what you want – to do what you love doing but at the highest level.’
What are your plans for the future, and what’s your dream venue to play?
‘My plan for the future is to not get lost. I want to be in love with my music career always, so I will grind, but I will take my hiatuses when I need to. More than anything, I want to travel, write, and perform all over the world. Even if it’s in small venues, just one person from each country telling me they like my creativity is enough for me.
I don’t quite have a dream venue, but I do have a dream festival, and that’s Love Supreme Jazz Festival. I’ve seen my heroes perform there, and every year I go, I picture myself on stage. That’s the dream.’
You released your latest single ‘Sweet’ in 2021. When can we expect some new music?
‘I’ve recently taken some time out to find myself and fall in love with me again. Looking back, I was doing a bit too much and it really took it out of me. I was writing, but I wasn’t writing for me – I was just doing it because I thought I was being unproductive or less creative than I thought I “should” be. So I did some self-reflection and realized I needed to write for me and me first. And when the time’s right, I’ll release more music on my own terms.
I have a lot to give, and I can feel it. I just needed this period in my life to be still and focus on reflection and learning more about who I am. I learnt that there’s no rush and to listen to myself.’
Head over to LiSA LO’s Spotify page to hear more of her fresh new tracks.