MQ Exclusive Interview with Laya Fisher
“The Jewish Princess”
MQ: You’re not a Princess here Laya, you’re a MusiqQueen. How’s everything going for you?
Thanks:) Everything’s going great. My song SCARLET just been announced as the third place winner in the 2001 Billboard Songwriting Contest which has been a really great surprise.
MQ: Awesome and Congratulations!!!
MQ: Ok…. I’ve just about seen your name everywhere and I’m finally getting a chance to find out more about you. Now who in the hell is Laya Fisher?
LAYA: You’ll have to be more specific. I am many different things to many different people:)
MQ: LOL, I see.
MQ: Okay, where are you from? I read you live in Brisbane, Australia. Was
the move due to the 2000 TUTE grant from Arts Queensland and Youth Arts
I’m originally from the East Coast of the U.S but 3 and a half years ago I moved to Australia to explore life on the other side of the world. It wasn’t because of the grant I received, that was just an added bonus that happened after I had been here for a year already.
MQ: It’s exciting to hear that the government actually came and knocked onyour door to give you money to make your debut EP, and a website to accompany it due to the 2000 TUTE Grant. Can you elaborate on the feeling you got when you opened the door?
LAYA: It was quite a shock really. I had just returned from visiting friends and family in the US and I had a message on my machine saying that the grant I originally applied for (which was about 6 months prior and onlyfor a few hundred dollars to buy a piece of equipment for my studio), had been increased to several thousand dollars for a select few of the applicants and I had been chosen to receive it. It was a mentorship grant, meaning I had to find someone already established in the industry to help me record my debut EP. The website was just an added benefit as my producer Ross McLennan(http://www.lobe.com.au) was also into web designing as a hobby. I knew Ross when he was my professor at the Contemporary Music Institute I had graduated from several months earlier. And it was his idea in the first place to apply for the original grant.
MQ: Has living in Australia changed the way you write or sing your music, than when you where living in the America?
Ah, living in Australia has changed so many aspects of my life, definitely including the way I write and sing music. Living in a tropical climate alone changes your lifestyle and headspace and I would say I’m more relaxed and experimental in the Southern Hemisphere than I was in America. The pressure to make socially acceptable
music has decreased as there is more diversity on the radio here. And the fact that wearing makeup and getting dressed up in this hot weather is not practical, means my whole world is more laid-back. Of course, you wouldn’t know this from my debut EP as a lot of people say it sounds quite aggressive. But most of those songs were written in America. The newer material is more mellow and introspective I think.
MQ: I definitely want to know this. Who came up with the slogan “Who In The Hell Is Laya Fisher”? It’s very catchy and makes you wonder about who you are.
To be honest, it was a spur of the moment idea and decision to use it as a slogan. I’ve actually seen other people use it since but I guess limitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I’m glad you say it makes you wonder as that’s what I was going for.
MQ: Why do you call yourself the Jewish Princess and not a Queen?
Whenever I meet someone new and they hear my name, 9 times out of ten, they say “Oh, like Princess.” And where I grew up, a Jewish Princessis not exactly a favorable term so it was a way of branding myself the obvious before anyone else did. I like to beat people to the punch.
MQ: How long have you been singing and making music?
I’ve been singing in the shower for as long as I can remember. And I used to love movies like Annie and Grease which I would pretend I was in. I also used to make up words and melodies all the time as a kid and didn’t really realize that I was writing songs until I got older and someone pointed it out to me. It took that person to say “Hey, why don’t you write some of these ideas down and try to make some music?,” for me to really believe that I could be a songwriter.
MQ: What made you want to pursue a career with in the music industry?
LAYA: I think as most songwriters would say, once you write a song, you want to get as many other people to hear it as you can. So that’s why I pursue a career in this incredibly fickle and difficult business to breakinto. Sometimes I wish I was an accountant:)
MQ: I think of your music as tantalizing and significant. How would you describe your music?
Ooh, I like those descriptions:) I guess I would call it confrontational and catchy. There are those that will really get off on the lyrics and others who just want to sing along to a hooky melody. My favorite aspect of songwriting is the lyrics for sure. I like to make people think or enjoy the storytelling behind them.
MQ: I definitely love the ardent
vibe you give off in your music! Who were
some of the artists you listened to while growing up?
Well, my parents raised me on the 50’s girl doo-wop groups but as I got older, Tori Amos has become a huge influence on me. One summer, I sat and listened to LITTLE EARTHQUAKES every single day. She’s the one who actually inspires me the most. Other female artists I like are very Lilith Fair oriented: Ani Difranco, Dar Williams, Tina Turner, Sarah McLachlan Alanis Morissette, Neneh Cherry and most recently Alicia Keys. My taste in bands runs the gamut from groove bands like Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd toblues rockers Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals and Blues Traveler and I also dig NIN, No Doubt and Garbage. So there’s a bit of diversity in there.
MQ: I admire your taste in music.
MQ: I heard you had a track on Angelina Jolie’s movie “Hell’s Kitchen,” how< did that come about?
LAYA:I was doing some work for a production company the last year I lived in the states. The opportunity arose and I was given a synopsis of the plot after which I wrote and sang the track. It all happened really quickly.
MQ: Did that bring you more attention?
LAYA: Unfortunately not since it was only shown in a select few theatres before moving straight to video. I didn’t really like the movie myself and wasn’t especially attached to that song so it wasn’t too upsetting. It was fun seeing my name in the credits though:) And the premiere party was fun, lots of celebrities there.
MQ: Most of the artists I’m recently
coming into contact with are MP3.com artists looking for exposure. How did you happen to end up there?
LAYA: Probably the same way most of the other artists have. It was a place where I could showcase my music for free. And they burned CDs from your mp3 tracks that you could then sell. This was before I did a run of my own higher-quality CDs and before I had my own website.
MQ: How do you like it since it has new owners and terms?
LAYA: I don’t actually. I used to pay for the preferred membership before I realized how much more money they were making off my music than i was and that it wasn’t worth it. Of course, this is how the music industry works in general and few artists have much choice if they can’t afford to make and distribute their own material. But I still have a page there with one track called STEPMOTHER SONG on it. It still generates some airplay which is cool but it’s definitely not my largest avenue of exposure.
MQ: I definitely understand where you are coming from.
MQ: What was the best thing about it?
At the time and for my purposes, it was that they made and distributed my music in a tangible form via credit cards without the overhead of having an online store.
MQ: I like asking this question in particular. How has being online helped with the success of your career or hurt your career?
I believe it has only helped. I think every artist needs a webpage in addition to their offline promotional strategies. By myself, there is no way I could’ve gained the international fans that I have now. People living all over Europe and the rest of the world have bought my CD and there is nothing more satisfying than knowing people of
a different culture and background relate to my music.
MQ: Do you believe that it’s easier
to gain success with the online music industry than the offline industry?
Yes and no. First of all, there isn’t really an “online music industry.” There are avenues of promotion but most are independently run by people who genuinely love music. There are those kinds of people that exist in the offline industry, but most of them are in it for the money. So that’s why exposure online is easier I think.
MQ: Quote: “There isn’t really an “online music industry.”
You’ll be changing that thought soon, hopefully. ;P
MQ: What is the worst thing that has happened to you during a performance?
I was playing guitar and I played the wrong chord. Luckily, not many people seemed to notice except the band backing me who looked kind of confused.
MQ: What is the best thing about performing?
The adrenaline rush for sure. I turn into a completely different person onstage than I am in my daily life.
MQ: Tell me a little bit about Jewish
Princess Productions and whose behind it.
It’s my own production and publishing company, similiar to why Madonna has her own label “Maverick.”
MQ: Where has most of your fans
and listeners come from? Online/Offline, Clubs…?
It’s been a combination. Lately it’s been online b/c I’ve taken a hiatus from performing while deciding which direction I want my new songs to take. I’ve been working in the studio more recently.
MQ: What is something you feel could help to encourage women to reach their goal within music?
They just need to get out there and try to write or play an instrument. It’s incredibly difficult to maintain momentum when you have to practice a lot in order to improve your
craft. So I would say find other like-minded people to help motivate you.
MQ: What is one rule you live by everyday to keep yourself focused?
Honestly, I have to keep reminding myself that there isn’t a deadline or a plateau I have to reach in order to be defined as successful. I like to take the time to be gentle and accepting of wherever I’m at emotionally and professionally. That said, I have my days where I lose complete focus and spazz out. The reminders to take
care of myself are ideals of where I’d like to be, not necessarily the mindset I always reach and maintain.
MQ: If you have the chance to do
one thing in your life besides music what would it be?
Probably be a yoga teacher. I take Yoga 3x a week and love it!
MQ: Have you done any touring recently? Do you plan on doing any touring in the future?
Not outside of my local area. But I hope to be touring in the future, absolutely!
MQ: What can we expect from you for 2002?
You’ll just have to wait and see!!
MQ: Would you like to thank any people or add a closing note to this interview?
I’d like to thank MUSIQQUEEN for taking the time to expose new female artists to the masses and inspiring youngwomen to express themselves. So THANK YOU!!
MQ: No, Thank You !!
Tracks Available Online
Stepmother Song (mp3)
A Little More Time (mp3)
Dick & Jane (lyrics only)
Scarlet (lyrics only)
Obvious (lyrics only)