By Rebecca Swanner
Stuff, July 2004
Despite 11 years in the biz (that’s industry speak for “business”), Liz Phair once grappled with stage fright so debilitating that it kept her from touring. Best known for her debut album, Exile in Guyville, the indie rocker steered toward the mainstream with her latest release, Liz Phair, and has shed her shyness to go on tour this summer. We overcame our shyness to ask her these questions. And to ask for 10 bucks.
STUFF: You live near the beach in California. Are you a surfer girl?
LIZ: I’m going to have to be. I feel so stupid to llive on the beach and not surf. I’m also afraid of getting my teeth smacked in by my board. I hate that feeling when you get tumbled. It feels like you’re in a washing machine. Picture that with a giant longboard. Wapow!
It must be scary to be five-foot-two and to get sucked under. Do you ever wish you were taller?
Sometimes. Especially when I’m at the deli counter. At parties, I always have to wear high heels or people have conversations over my head. I hate that. Honestly, this is the deep truth: I love the benefits of being a small, cute girl. Especially with boyfriends.
What kind of benefits? Is there a 401(K)?
I find that a lot of really tall guys like small girls. And I always get away with shit ’cause I’m small. I can’t stand there and bey like, “Uh!” and get help. And when you’re bossy, you’re just cute. “Oh, look! She’s having a little fit!”
Do you write songs while having fits?
I often write when I’m feeling on edge about something. Anytime I’m emotionally between states or physically between places, I get very creative. My best work is usually when I’m out to prove something or I feel slighted or upset. A big motivation for me is proving that I can do things that people tell me I can’t.
Is going on stage still like walking the last mile for you?
I love being onstage now. I’m very interested in performing live, because it wasn’t my natural thing. When I first started getting national attention, I had no stage experience. I was a songwriter.
Do you think critics reviewed your latest album negatively because they wanted you to repeat Exile?
I think that’s probably the bulk of it. I was also sort of a barometer. There was this hope with emo-core that indie was going to come back, but if Liz Phair is selling out, then there’s no fucking hope. It had to do with the whole era coming to a close. It’s over, and something new has to be born.
On “Rock Me”, you talking about wanting to play Xbox. Do you game?
I do, but it’s not by choice. My son makes me, so I’ve had to get into it.
Speaking of games, what’s the wildest thing you’ve done in the sack?
Recently, I tried a game with a special person. He was like my slave and could only do what I told him to. It was very exciting at first, when we were in the kitchen, but when we started having sex, I couldn’t get aroused. Same guy, same body, same technique, but he was gone. I realized that all the things I think are attractive about him — it’s him. His soul is the biggest aphrodisiac. Without that, I couldn’t get excited.
Where did the idea for the song “HWC” [hot white cum] come from?
From the awesome sex I was having! I spent my twenties not sexually fulfilled, because I was always trying to cater to what the guy wanted or faking it or not knowing my own body. I was so exuberant about finally being able to love sex and feel powerful by sometimes being dominated by a man. When you have a mature relationship, you can do dirty things, but you also trust the person and realize they’re not the enemy. I was trying to embrace the very thing that, in my twenties, I would have been like, “That’s the problem!”
That explains everything!
Featured Image: Liz Phair photographed for Stuff Magazine (Photo: Craig DeCristo)