Analogue Music | Lizzie Loveless

Lizzie Loveless

By Matt Conner

TEEN's tenure had run its course, but the music had not.

Even in her final years with TEEN, Lizzie Lieberson was already writing music to call her own, personal songs with a different feel, ones that would eventually emerge under a new moniker as the Brooklyn alt-rock band decided to dissolve back in 2019. As other Lieberson sisters decided to pursue new directions, Lizzie Loveless was born.

The transition was supposed to happen last year, but a global pandemic placed a lot of things on hold for everyone, including the arrival of Lizzie's compelling solo debut, You Don't Know. Fortunately, music this good proves worth the wait.

We recently sat down with Lizzie to discuss the decision to end TEEN, the birth of a new musical endeavor, and the challenges to make it all work.

Analogue: Was it clear for some time that you’d make music on your own or did that come into view once TEEN dissolved as your musical outlet?

Lizzie Loveless: No, I kind of always knew I was going to continue. I had been working on this music even though I was writing for TEEN as well. On our time off or sometimes even on the road, I’d have ideas for a solo project. I would record on our time off as well. I didn’t know what it was going to be, but I’d even performed while TEEN was still going.

I wasn’t even initially ready to say we were going to end as a band, but I’m really glad that we did say that. It was honestly right before 2020. I think we all needed a break, whatever that looked like, and my sister had said we need to be intentional about it. It was sad and we were actually talking about it the other day, that it’s been harder to get over in a way than I think we imagined. I mean, it was our life for 10 years and it was family.

"It was necessary. It just wasn’t working for us at the moment, so I’m glad we made that decision."

It was necessary. It just wasn’t working for us at the moment, so I’m glad we made that decision. But yeah, I always knew I’d do something else, and my sister felt the same way and she has her own project. Then again, we’re already talking about doing something together again. [Laughs]

Analogue: That all implies to me that you feel complete permission to go wherever the music takes you and only worry about labels after the fact.

Lizzie: Yeah, because again at the same time, I was writing for both TEEN and myself. It was very natural. Eventually it evolved into what it is now.

Analogue: How did you differentiate between those songs?

Lizzie: It’s funny. I want to say that it’s really personal, but a lot of the stuff I wrote for TEEN was extremely personal. I don’t know. I think what was special about the relationship we had as bandmates—obviously we’re sisters in a band—but on top of that, we all were always on the same page when it came to the direction of where the music would go. It could even be unspoken at times, but it was this innate thing we had with each other. Of course, we tried songs that didn’t work, but there was never a moment where it was like, ‘Oh, you can keep that song for yourself.’ It was a very natural process.

'You Don't Know' cover art
'You Don't Know' cover art

Analogue: Was there an initial song that was a cornerstone, one you’d look back on and say, ‘That one set me on my own path’?

Lizzie: The one that comes to mind is the one I just released, actually. “Window” is a song I wrote in the classic way, after breaking up with someone, but that was mine. That song fully felt like I needed to keep it. It was the style I was writing in, which at the time was very different than the way it turned out. That was the first one where I realized it was the start of maybe something for myself.

Analogue: Was that an exciting thought at the time?

Lizzie: Well at the time, I was very sad. [Laughs] But that breakup in particular was pretty pivotal… sometimes when you go through something that makes so vulnerable, it can also make you more open to the world. I have so much anxiety when going through something like that, and I find I’m often more open to trying or doing things, if that makes sense. It oddly gave me confidence. It’s like, ‘I’m just so heartbroken, so sad, so let’s just try this new thing.’ I recorded the first version of that song around that time. As cheesy as it sounds, there’s a healing quality to that as well.

Analogue: The digital era feels like a wild west and you’re not trying to start something new after cultivating a fan base for a decade with TEEN. If I put myself in your shoes, that would seem daunting. Is that true? Or how has that been for you?

Lizzie: It is strange. Also when you’re in a band like TEEN, I dabbled in other bands in the beginning when I moved to New York or sang in other projects, but really TEEN has been the only band that I’ve been in for my whole musical life. To go from also having the support of three other women and more than half being my family, it is daunting. We were ready to move on, but once that reality hit and I was faced with that, it was very daunting and even a little paralyzing if I’m honest. I was playing shows.

Eventually I think I was sending it out to people and sharing it, but then of course the pandemic happened, which was bad timing. However it still worked out. I met lovely people at Egghunt Records and I’m so happy that worked out. But again, my sister and I were just talking about this the other day because the landscape has even changed over the last couple years. When TEEN was first coming out as a band, it was a totally different world. I’m so used to a different reality, so to just start over was tough.

Analogue: I don’t want to dwell too long on the negative, but when you say ‘paralyzing’, what does that look like?

Lizzie: I was just thinking about this, because I work really well with others. Of course, I’m a generator of ideas, but I also work well off of other people’s energy. I like being in a band because you encourage each other. I think there’s some natural competition to get your ideas in, which is motivating. There’s an energy that I like.

Especially toward the end of TEEN—and I feel like I’m talking about my band too much—but we’d figured out a way to work with each other that was great. Everything else fell apart but that was great. So I work well within that kind of energy with other people. When I had to start over and do everything myself, I can get stuck sometimes and I can get overwhelmed with everything I have to think about. Sometimes I don’t know where to begin and then I just get stuck. [Laughs]

I can snap out of it and I do have people in my life who I definitely feel very thankful for. They push me and encourage me because I need that. I can get lost in my overthinking and depression and all that stuff. So I rely on others to push me for sure.

Analogue: On the other side, is it safe to assume you’ve learned some positive things about yourself after stepping out like this?

Lizzie: Certainly and it feels good, too. It feels empowering to do something on your own, although again, it is a solo project but there are so many people involved who make it happen. There’s the producers I work with and my partner I work with, who is my main musical collaborator. It’s me but it’s also only possible through the support of those who helped make the record, who take the photos, who help with all of that. But yeah, it does feel good that it’s essentially my vision and my musical voice or whatever.

VISIT: Lizzie Loveless

Photo: Charles Billot