Liz Phair tells Samantha Clode why you have to break a few eggs to make an omelette
It’s been a long time since we have heard from Liz Phair – the girl with the naughty lyrics and catchy hooks. Four years, in fact, since Phair released 1995’s Whip-Smart, the follow-up to her debut album, Exile in Guyville. But with the recent release of album number three, Whitechocolatespaceegg, the Chicago-born Phair has returned.
While the album has been hailed by some as a commercial breakthrough, there are those who have attacked the five-foot-two songstress for producing something that’s, well, scrambled in its approach. Phair continues with her longtime habit of skipping styles and subjects. Heading into the studio a year after the birth of son Nicholas, Phair admits to being uncertain as to what she initially wanted. With over 30 half-written songs up her sleeve, she started work on the album in what turned out to be a time-consuming process, taking several months to complete.
On the album, Phair delves into the world of babies, marriage and being thirtysomething. It marks a big step from the sweet voiced urchin to the 31-year-old.
While Phair admits her new songs are a change of direction, she’s no about to offer any reasons as to why she is so fidgety. The most interesting thing about watching an artist you love, she argues, is their chopping and changing, even to the point of turning from the recording studio to take up the word processor.
“I want to write a novel. I’ve tried writing but it’s not happening just yet! My mother says, ‘Just stick with music, you’re much better at that,’ but I want to explore everything,” she explains.
Having overcome her notorious stagefright, she’s excited about the new material but is confused when it comes to people’s perceptions of her work. “People expect that once you’ve had a baby you’ve mellowed,” she says. “That’s just not true. Maybe you have access to a part of yourself that’s gentler, but I would kill for him.”
Since the release of the album, Phair has shared the stage with other musicians on the Lilith Festival, opened for Alanis Morissette and done her first US Tour.
She’s also been getting herself ready for making a truly groundbreaking record. “I want the next record to be a work of art,” she says. “A real thing that people will hold up as a benchmark.”
By Samantha Clode
Juice #78, April 1999