Friday, 19 March 2010

Conversational | Lisa Mitchell

by Ashlea Maher, 19th March 2010...

Like any rose, Lisa Mitchell is a fragile and tender beauty. Her timid guitar and soft acoustic guitar licks weave together seamlessly to project interesting and beautiful folk arrangements that have seen her blossom as the next all-the-rage artist. Her escalation is interesting given her career was born out of the five-minute-fame reality television hype. The English-born Mitchell moved to Australia when she was three, and after growing up feasting on the likes of The Beatles and Cat Stevens, Mitchell relished her chance to shoot for popstar glory by entering Australian Idol. aged 14.

But it was evident once competition got serious that her folky songstress nature wasn't going to fit the contrived three-minute ballad mould that such competitions require. Mitchell has made her own way to stardom on the strength of her original work. Her first EP's (yes, Idol contestants can release EP's) One Said To The Other and Welcome To The Afternoon were graciously accepted in the UK, US and Australia, and she released her debut album Wonder in 2009.

Wonder is the result of high-profile collaborations in the UK and Australia, and was recorded while Mitchell was living in the UK from 2007. She played Glastonbury last year, just completed her first ever solo tour of the UK and was awarded the coveted $30,000 Australian Music Prize last week. not bad for someone who is only 19!

"People are very quick to claim you as their own. It's a bit of a tug-of-war at the moment between the UK and Australia, but it's good. I love both places". Mitchell is said to be growing up as one of the new breed of chick folk pop singers, comparable to the likes of Regina Spektor, Feist and Laura Marling. Looking back on conversations, live shows and meet-ups with Mitchell in recent months, it is obvious how much she is a star in the making, without any commercial marketing needed. 

"Song writing for me is usually trying to create something that will give me proof of hope, like a packed lunch for the future or something", Mitchell said during her recent UK tour. "I'm a chronic journal writer, so it's kind of like when I just can't write it down, when there has to be even more of a human element to it, whether my voice or the chords... I guess it's just like proof that I can move forward. Usually it's about losing or re-finding hope or happiness. Most of my songs are written around that cusp. I guess it's a survival mechanism for me".

After collaborating with producers Andy Barlow (Lamb) and Sacha Skarbek (Adele), Mitchell said she is happy to have broken the mould. "I feel a lot free-er with my music now" she explained. "Every time I work with someone I'm gonna pick up little habits that they do that I quite like, or just everything kind of influences somehow. I always write a lot by myself, but it was good for me doing co-writes. It's like exercise for the mind. You literally cannot get stuck in your own ways because you're constantly being refreshed the whole time".

Mitchell's debut album Wonder is out now, and single 'Oh Hark' is out on April 12.

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