It didn’t take long for Lizzie Flynn to hop on the road in September after her latest album dropped. As soon as You and The Open Sky was out, she was too. Hitting up a vast array of places throughout Australia, this singer-songwriter played everywhere from the Maleny Music Festival to the Kangaroo Valley Folk Festival. She’s got one more to go next month as she hits up 5 Church Street on December 5th. We talked a bit about her long time on the road but really dug deep into her road trips, country music and more.
Kendra: At what point in your life did you say, “Yeah a typical 9-5 job just isn’t going to work for me. I need to be doing music?”
Lizzie Flynn: Most musicians I meet at gigs and festivals are doing a few other jobs as well to fund their life. It’s more the fact that when you embark on a bigger project, making an album and doing a tour, you have to really dedicate every spare moment to it. This is both daunting and satisfying at the same time, as it’s a good feeling to finish a body of work (like an album) and put it out there…
Kendra: When recording You and The Open Sky, did you take in a lot of nature for inspiration at all? Because one can imagine the night skies in Brisbane are top notch.
Lizzie Flynn: I went on a road trip from Brisbane to Melbourne and each day the sky was blue and cloudless and open. It made me appreciate the scenery and the beauty of the country so much.
I was thinking about how if everything is going wrong, you can still wake up every day and see a new sky – an open sky. It feels like somehow you can start again. Admittedly it’s easier to appreciate this when you are on holidays and have a full tank of petrol!
Kendra: Your style has everything from country to folk. Why do you think that when it comes to country – love and lost is captured so beautifully?
Lizzie Flynn: Love and loss and country music. Is it the melancholy sounds of the banjo that unites these concepts all together? (enough of the banjo jokes!) Apart from the instrumentation of banjo/ fiddle/guitars, the beauty of country music is that the songs tend to be fairly structured and so lend themselves to telling stories. I enjoy writing songs where in the space of three minutes you can depict a character or a town and try to get across a story with a strong meaning or emotion.
Kendra: Earlier this evening I was thinking about how “I’m fine” is the most common lie we tell. Then I heard “Prisoner in My Own Town” and was like, OMG. YES. Why is it that we brush off our feelings with those two little words so often?
Lizzie Flynn: I think in real life it is very hard, to be honest…There is a definitely a place for small talking about the weather. But if you go a long time with small time chat, it can feel like you’re just going through the motions. I talk about this concept on another song on the album called Cold Light. It is about acknowledging what you want deep inside, and not brushing it off…Again the lyric in the chorus uses that f-word…”Don’t say that you’re fine.”
Kendra: What about your town felt like a prison sentence?
Lizzie Flynn: Ha! Well, I think any town or place can feel like a prison sentence if you’re in a rut. Is that too deep? Unfortunately, you still got to take yourself along for the ride wherever you end up!
Kendra: Okay so regardless, you’ve broken free. You’ve got shows under your belt from now through December. Anything crazy happens so far or has everything been running smoothly?
Lizzie Flynn: More smoothly than I thought. We had booked The Brisbane Powerhouse for my hometown album launch. It was in a theatre on the same day as the Grand Final Football of the NRL. Apparently, as an Australian, it was a disgrace for me to “forget” to factor in the footy final when scheduling gigs. I was worried no one would show up. A lot of people did though. My band (always handy), a packed theatre, and about 25 kids under 12 (with their parents). So I also got a chance to promote my music to the under 12’s.
Kendra: What’s on deck for you after the tour and in the new year?
Lizzie Flynn: Next year I would like to tour You and The Open Sky in a few states that I have not played before, like Tasmania, South Australia, or Western Australia, and keep working on my performing. I would also like to keep song-writing for different projects/people. For the last few years, I have written music for theatre. Musical theatre is another genre that I am passionate about.
Kendra: Lastly, here at ZO, we like to talk about all sort of creative outlets. With that, if you had to compare You and The Open Sky to a famous work of art – which would it be and why?
Lizzie Flynn: Does a book I’ve read count as a work of art? I have read Robyn Davidson’s book, called Tracks, three times. It is about how she trekked across the desert in Australia to try and find some meaning in her life. Then came out of it a better person through her determination to keep going…amongst other things. Making this CD was like trekking in the desert where it is really hard and all-encompassing. It was good to see an open sky above you and appreciate the beauty and mystery that surrounds you on that journey.