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“I’ve always been intrigued by music with a dark edge and a bit of mystery surrounding it, that really adds to the magic for me.” -Lisa Cuthbert

January 13, 2012

Entertainment, Interviews

Irish singer-songwriter and pianist Lisa Cuthbert makes music that has been described as a dark, brooding mix of eclectic sounds with a Celtic twist. Informed by such dynamic influences as Tori Amos, Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush, and Loreena McKennitt, Lisa’s work is distinguished by haunting, ethereal voice, dramatic songwriting, and layered harmonies. Through songs that explore memories, moods and feelings Cuthbert aspires to a deeper emotional affect that draws listeners into fervent reverie.

Lisa’s debut EP Ready to Unfold was released in 2009. On the strength of its material she toured Europe providing backing vocals as a member of Antimatter’s touring band. More recently she has supported Wovenhand, Amber Asylum and UK prog-rock veterans Marillion, and she has just been confirmed to play three shows at Castlefest 2012 in the Netherlands.

Cuthbert’s solo album Obstacles, released in 2010, explores a variety of familiar situations across a range of emotions, from everyday highs and lows to universal fears like death and abandonment. Featuring guest appearances by Mick Moss and backing vocals by Lisa’s younger sister Aoife, Obstacles continues to receive airplay on both terrestrial and web radio throughout Europe.

DarkMedia had the pleasure of sitting down with Lisa to discuss her musical inspirations, the meaning of her latest album, and how she feels about the word “fans”.

Your music is described as “dark, electic sounds with a Celtic twist.” What’s inspired you to stay true to your style in an industry with so many people pushing for a more “commercial” sound?

I’ve always been intrigued by music with a dark edge and a bit of mystery surrounding it, that really adds to the magic for me.
I’ve seen a lot of artists start off with that magic, and usually as soon as their careers took the commercial route, the music suffered, as if the music itself wasn’t the source of inspiration anymore. That’s inspiration enough for me to keep doing what I love doing, and not focus on what the industry wants.

Who has been your biggest musical influence?

During my teenage years I started listening to dark rock and heavy metal, and as I was already a trained pianist at that stage, I started to cover my favourite songs on the piano. I then discovered Tori Amos, who covered Slayer and the like, so I instantly became a fan. I suppose she was my biggest influence at the beginning.

If you could tour with anyone, who would it be and why?

I’d love to tour with Bon Iver, I love his music and I have a feeling he’d be pretty cool!

You are compared to a “darker version” of Tori Amos? Do you feel like that’s an accurate comparison?

It’s a huge compliment, but I’m not sure how accurate it is!

Your album is entitled “Obstacles”. Can you tell us what obstacles you have had to over come in order to start, and continue, following your dreams?

The biggest obstacle that I had to overcome at the beginning was people telling me that I couldn’t do it. I’ve learned to block out those kind of negative influences, but I still find new ones every day!

You have a wide vocal range. Did you take vocal lessons? When did you first discover that you could sing?

I sang in choirs when I was younger, and I did a little bit of classical training, then smoked for about 8 years, and there you have it! I have given up smoking now though, it has improved my voice’s stamina, and I smell much better now too 🙂

You have covered songs from Opeth, among others. What inspired you to cover the songs you have, and which songs would you like to cover in the future?

I only cover songs that really affect me, either musically or lyrically or both. The “Isolation Years” cover was something I started playing around with on the piano because I loved it. Then I started to record demos for my second album, but I needed some practice at editing and mixing audio tracks, so I decided to do a few cover projects.

I’m working on a cover of Metallica’s “Sanitarium” at the moment as it fits well with the theme for my second album, and I love it. Master of Puppets is one of my favourite albums of all time.

What other instruments do you play besides piano (which you are known for playing beautifully)?

Thank you very much! I play the autoharp and the Irish whistle too, and I play around with synths. I can play a few chords on the guitar but I would never call myself a guitarist!

Who or what put you in the direction of “darker” music?

Metallica was the start of it all, and Madonna’s “Frozen”.

Rumor has it that one of your favorite bands is Testament (a well known thrash band). What is it about that band you love, and are there any other bands in that genre you consider favorites?

I went through a big thrash phase a few years ago, and I went to see Testament in concert. It was actually their song ‘Return to Serenity’ that interested me at first.

Being that this a “dark” site, what are your favorite horror movies?

Carrie, and The Shining.

Is it true that you used to play Metallica songs on piano? Does Metallica know this, or have they ever acknowledged it?

It’s true, and I still do! Metallica are probably unaware of my existence 😉

Your fan base is really dedicated. What’s the secret to keeping your fans so engaged?

Most of the people that come to my concerts and buy my CDs are friends of mine. I like to travel around playing music and meeting cool people, and then we keep in touch on the internet. I don’t really refer to people as fans so much.

What are you working on right now? What can we look forward to from you in the future?

At the moment I’m working on the new Antimatter album ‘Wide Awake in the Concrete Asylum’ and my second solo album ‘Paramour’ which I’m really excited about. I’ll continue to tour as much as possible throughout 2012, so there’s a lot to look forward to!

Have you ever had “ghostly” experiences?

None in this dimension, but I have been having vivid dreams about people who I know to be dead coming to visit me. There’s one dream in particular that I would like to share in the form of a music video at some stage…

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Lisa Cuthbert is currently featured on  DarkMediaCity, a free social network for those who like it Dark.  Whether it be literature or film, music or art, horror or sci-fi, paranormal romance or paranormal investigation, we’ve got something for you.  www.DarkMediaCity.com

For more about Lisa, please visit her website, and be sure to read the latest about Lisa’s latest fundraiser, Paramour: Songs for “Fallen Women” by clicking here.

Many thanks to our contributing music interviewers, Annie & Kelly.

(All interviews are the exclusive property of DarkMedia, and may not be reproduced or shared without permission, excepting links to the interview.)

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