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HillyTown Q&A: Lisa/Liza’s Liza Victoria

First of all, we just want to congratulate to both Lisa/Liza and Kaki King, as their show tomorrow at SPACE (Saturday, February 28, 8:30 p.m.) sold out yesterday.

We were lucky enough to sit down with Lisa/Liza’s Liza Victoria earlier in the week as she prepared for the show and talked about everything from the portrayal of women within the Portland music community to our age of perfected nostalgia via through the internet. And like every good music article in the last year, Beyoncé.

Lisa/Liza’s newest release The First Museum was released in November and is available on Bandcamp through Pretty Purgatory as both a physical and digital release.

Lisa/Liza photo by Kevin Steeves/Grace Hager

“This isn’t my favorite Stevie Wonder Record — it’s not ‘Songs In the Key Of Life’ but that’s a totally great cover,” Lisa/Liza on Stevie Wonder’s “Hotter Than July” at Moody Lords in downtown Portland. Liza will be playing a sold out show with Kaki King this Saturday at SPACE located at 538 Congress St. PHOTO CREDIT: Kevin Steeves/Grace Hager


HillyTown: Tomorrow you’re going to be playing a show opening for Kaki King at SPACE. Is this the largest audience you’ve performed in front of, and what size to you, is ideal to perform at?

Lisa/Liza (Liza Victoria): I think this will probably be the most number of people at once that isn’t a situation like when I played at Northside Festival a few years ago, because that was a festival there were a lot of people coming and going. Right now at this moment I like playing in smaller venues because it’s a little easier to control the sound.

But I have found that there is a little more anxiety with less people in the audience. Like when I play at house shows it’s a lot more personal and intimate because you’re performing and talking to people who can at times be right in from you when you play. But the variables at house shows like sound, set-up and who you’re going to be playing with can just be so unexpected and resolved last minute.

I haven’t gotten to the point where I read the crowd before I go on. So for times that I’ve played after an experience like AFRAID, I just sort of go out and do my own thing. There was a show where it was a little difficult where the billing was Video Nasties, AFRAID and then me — because everyone has been dancing and is totally vibing or something; and then I go on and do my thing and it’s a little strange to be sure.

HT: For those who know you personally, you’re quite reserved and quiet. What spurred your decision to perform your own music live in front of people?

LV: It really started as kind of a personal challenge to myself, because of all the social anxiety that I naturally have, but I also really like music. So combining the two in part was a way to deal with my social anxieties and do what I love and find comfort it.

HT: Your latest release The First Museum was your first working with Peter McLaughlin’s Pretty Purgatory collective and label. You’ll be joining a roster with the likes of Jacob Augustine, Butcher Boy and of course, The Milkman’s Union. What made you want to become involved with the project?

LV: I had worked with Peter and Butcher Boy lots of times before — Peter just explained the idea behind Pretty Purgatory to me and I just really liked the idea behind it. I love the Portland music scene and thought it’s needed something like this for a long time. While I do a lot of stuff on my own, but the more help you can get, I think, the better. We all help each other.

HT: What have the benefits of working with Pretty Purgatory been so far, even in its early stages?

LV: I’ve always really like working with Butcher Boy — they have always been super supportive of me and it creates this sort of camaraderie. We have done some shows and a little music together, and I really like seeing our stuff together on the same label.

Pretty Purgatory also allows gives people a starting point for a lot of Portland music. In the past, the city seemed to be sort of divided musically,  which doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense to me because it’s not like a lot of people live and perform music here. Everyone is pretty independent here of course, but I like have something like Pretty Purgatory where we help each other out and can watch each other grow, develop, and learn from each other along the way.

HT: I know most musicians usually say “my latest album” when they are asked what release they are the most proud of to have released. And I hope you’ll excuse me for doing the same thing.

LV: I’ve recorded a lot, and I think as a musician you’ve always got and idea in your head about what you want your music to ideally sound like — and I do think that The First Museum has come the closest to that ideal of what I want to sound like right now.

I had been writing this album across the span of two years, and then recorded it live in one take with Peter which was great. So I think this album has been my favorite in that it captures what I want to do songwriting wise.

HT: Each subsequent album you’ve released gets more and more press and likely listeners. Do you see yourself putting more pressure on yourself as this happens?

LV: Naturally, the more people that are interested in it — you want to please them in someway. But, it’s not like it’s a huge group still so I still have a lot of fun and get enjoyment out of it.

HT: What were you listening to when you were writing The First Museum or do you avoid listening to music when you’re writing and recording? Do you ever see or hear what you’re listening to coming through and influencing what you’re writing at the time?

LV: I was actually listening to a lot of different music at the time I was recording than  — a lot of pop music though, more pop than I usually listen to on a regular basis. Listening to all that pop definitely influenced the album in some indirect way.

For example, for awhile I was listening to a lot of Freak Folk and stuff like that, and a lot of my earlier and less successful music definitely shows that.

HT: What are you listening to now, a few months after the release of that album and do you see it creeping into anything?

LV: I kind have been listening to a lot more pop still, like I mentioned before. Honestly, I’ve been listening to a lot of Beyoncé recently, I just think it’s so interesting. But there isn’t really any influence that I’m noticing — it’s still way too far of a jump for me even as she grows as an artist. But the video aspect that she did for all of her songs was really intriguing on her last album. And that album is more than just a pop album now — it’s a piece of art in a way.

Something I have noticed though in pop is that more mainstream artists are making albums that are purposefully nostalgic sound wise. I’ve been listening to a lot of Blood Orange for example, and he’s very much contemporary pop but he plays around with early 90’s sounds and just a little Prince. But it’s this nostalgia that doesn’t really exist — everyone is so obsessed with the 90s right now, but I wasn’t even a teenager in the 90s but I have this weird, filtered nostalgia for it. So in a way, I sort of think it’s kind of inauthentic.

HT: It’s sort of the same way with bands like Of Montreal and Foxygen.

LV: Right, a lot of these musicians weren’t even alive during the original psychedelic rock phase, but they have this attachment to it. Like that “Oh that was the time” it’s sort of neat though because it’s a retrospective and perfected nostalgia. You feel like you’ve heard it before even if you haven’t — I’m a little torn though with the 80’s sounding stuff because it can all sound the same but I like it.

Personally, I like it because culturally it’s really reflective of where we are today as a culture. You have the internet and all these different time frames instantly at your disposal now. It’s a unique thing that we haven’t had before, and for the most part it is done really well combining newer and older sounds.

HT: Many reviews and articles about your music pushes the soft and delicate nature of your music, how do you react to something like that? It can definitely be seen as positive or negative depending on the musician.

LV: I like it being received as something that’s not in your face, immediate or abrasive. To me, it’s always surprising because when I’m working on music, I sometimes worry that it might be too weird for people.

But it’s a little frustrating when people say that they can’t hear me, especially when I perform live. Because a lot of people think it’s not on purpose, that I’m not singing loudly because I can’t, but it’s a conscious choice — to not belt it live. When I was younger, I was in a folk punk band and did scream a little more and try to be more abrasive. But I’m trying to work on my vocal range and abilities so it’s very conscious.

HT: How does it make you feel when people discuss your music and say it’s basic, wispy, amateur and stripped down?

LV: It doesn’t really bother me all that much until they use the term “amateur” like that I don’t consciously know what I’m doing. But, I like the stripped down sound.  Like I said before, I’m not accidentally making these choices — it’s very much what I am consciously going for.

HT: The adjectives that a lot of people use when discussing your music are, as mentioned before delicate, wispy — they all seem to be inherently feminine. Instead of talking about your music on an equal level they talk about it as a gendered entity. Do you see your music as gendered?

LV: I don’t think of my music as being gendered, but it’s more about how you’re treated when you’re performing that bothers me. The gendered stuff — like if people make a big deal out of me being female when I perform. Or when other bands I don’t really know or promoters offering unwanted and unsolicited advice because of my gender.

I’ve had issues in the past, sometimes I feel like a lot of bills are male-centric and then there is me. So, it’s a little too much at times when everyone is trying to be overly helpful thinking I don’t know what I’m doing. Or if you tell them you perform music it’s very often like “Let me guess, you’re a woman with an acoustic guitar and you sing solo?”

HT: I wrote a review of your last album and even caught myself using inherently feminine terms and comparisons. It wasn’t intentional — but it unfortunately happened and I compared you directly (and somewhat lazily) to Joanna Newsom. What are your thoughts on musical journalism when they directly compare women to women, men to men, but rarely the two meet in comparisons?

LV: I think it makes sense sometimes, like if it’s an appropriate comparison to draw.

I’m not mad at all men, it doesn’t bother me that much that everyone thinks that my music is thought of as inherently feminine. There was an article awhile ago about women in the Portland music scene and I was so happy to know that someone thought to write about that, but I felt that I was being portrayed as whiny.

In the interview they talked to a lot of female musicians in Portland and their opinion about the community and most of them said that they felt a lot of support. I think a lot of people thought my take was that I was whining but that wasn’t my point. My point was that I was trying to encourage more of my peers to consider listening to women’s musicians and including them in the scene more.

I know so many women who write and sing that actually don’t perform live and put themselves out there and participate. I think they might feel a little dissuaded because they don’t want to go to a show with a bunch of bros.

My main intention was to say that there would be shows that I would play with like 20 acts, and I’d be the only lady on the bill and I would think “That can’t be right, I know there are more women out there that could be on the bill.” I just thought that something had to be going on here — I just want equality more than anything.

(Editor’s Note: This Q&A has been edited due to length, clarity and content)

The Lone Bellow and Odessa Played PCMH [2.23.15]

Last night at Port City Music Hall, Odessa and The Lone Bellow kicked off a winter tour with a sold out show. Check out some photos by Cait Kimball (full gallery here) and the rest of the tour dates (continuing tonight in Burlington, VT) further down.

What Bree Sees has a recap of the pre-show Studio Z performance at the venue, and Bob Ker offers a glowing review of the night over at Maine Today.

Odessa + The Lone Bellow tour dates:
2/24 – Burlington, VT @ Artsriot
2/26 – Montreal, QC, CA @ Petit Campus
2/27 – Toronto, ON, CA @ Lee’s Palace
2/28 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Stage AE
3/1 – Indianapolis, IN @ Radio Radio
3/3 – Minneapolis, MN @ Turf Club
3/4 – Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall
3/6 – Nashville, TN @ Exit/In
3/7 – Louisville, KY @ Headliners
3/8 – St. Louis, MO @ Old Rock House
3/10 – Birmingham, AL @ WorkPlay
3/11 – Atlanta, GA @ Terminal West
3/13 – Washington, D.C. @ The Hamilton
3/14 – Charlottesville, VA @ The Southern
3/24 – Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts
3/25 – New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
3/26 – Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
3/27 – Boston, MA @ Paradise

This Weekend In Videos

You’ve got some fine choices for live music in Portland between now and Monday…

TONIGHT: Sinkane / Cookies / Mosart212 @ SPACE

TONIGHT: Tall Horse / People Skills / Gin Lab @ Empire

TONIGHT: Aesop Rock / Rob Sonic Portland, ME @ Port City Music Hall

SATURDAY: DOUGFEST 2015: The Ghosts of Johnson City / Johnny Cremains / Book of the Dead @ Geno’s

SUNDAY: South China / Colby Nathan / The Orchards @ Local Sprouts

MONDAY: The Lone Bellow / Odessa 2/23 @ PCMH


RIP New System Laundry.

Jenny Lewis and Kurt Vile (and the Violators) Played The State

Hi folks, it’s been a while, huh? We’ve missed you. Maybe you’ve missed us. Or maybe you’ve been out enjoying your life and going to all sorts of amazing concerts. We sure hope so. Anyway, last week, our photographer Andrew Foster hit The State for the great Jenny Lewis + Kurt Vile & The Violators show. All accounts indicate that it was an excellent night. Check out our exclusive photos below!

Great Western Plain on BTR

Maine dudes Great Western Plain recently stopped by Serious Business in NYC for this brand spankin’ new episode of Serious Business On BTR! Check it out!

Hello 2014. HillyTown Presents NYC + more!

We know. It’s been a while. Again. Before we get ahead of ourselves, let us direct your attention to the HillyTown Songkick calendar (aka the current form of our showlist) for all the recommended concerts we think you should know about.

In a bit of exciting news, we’re finally putting things in motion for the future shape of HillyTown, which you’ll be hearing more about in the coming months. What you can expect will be regular updates, more live show coverage, and – of course – more events. We’re excited and we hope you will be too.

Before all of that, we have an announcement! HillyTown Presents NYC is back in action, pairing Maine bands up with local and national acts for shows in NYC (see also WHAT BLOG?!, our collaboration with a few of our music blogger friends). It’s been a while since we’ve done these regularly, so we’re psyched to get back into it on February 1st at Union Hall. Read on for details!

Saturday, February 1st, 2014
HillyTown Presents @ Union Hall [702 Union Street, Brooklyn, NY]
Iska Dhaaf + The Tablets + Contrapposto + Beat Radio
8pm, $8 advance / $10 day of show, 21+

Iska Dhaaf (Seattle, WA)

Contrapposto (Portland, ME)

Beat Radio (Bellmore, NY)

PICNIC Holiday Sale This Weekend!

It’s here! The 5th installment of the Picnic Holiday Sale is happening this Sunday 12/15/13 at the Portland Company Complex at 58 Fore Street in Portland, ME from 11am to 6pm. Once again we’ve put together a lineup of DJ’s to keep you entertained and shopping all day! You can RSVP on Facebook (but the event is free and open to the public of all ages).

Picnic DJ lineup, presented by HillyTown:
11am – tbd
12pm – Matt Little-Farmer
1pm – DJ Squishybunny
2pm – Sonia Box Tiger
3pm – Favrit Foodz
4pm – Dewey Decimal Sound System
5pm – DJ Leaf Peeper

See you there!

Lady Lamb: Return To Maine documentary

We produced this video in collaboration with Aly Spaltro (Lady Lamb) and BreakThru Radio. Thanks to Jeff Beam, SPACE Gallery, WCYY, Bart & Greg’s, Bull Moose, and everybody else who helped out or let us film on those whirlwind couple of days back in March.



Our BFF’s in Biddo are right in the middle of their second annual OAK AND THE AX FESTIVAL, which we hope you already know about and are attending. To sweeten the pot, tomorrow at 1:30pm, they’ll be screening a video we (err, I, or whatever) made with Lady Lamb The Beekeeper back in March when she went up to Portland for her record release show at SPACE Gallery. It’ll be the first time anybody sees it before it hits the internet next month. But that’s all besides the point, because O+A have put together an amazing weekend-long lineup of goodness for your eyes, ears, and heart and we hope you’re there sharing the goodness with them.

PICNIC 2013 Music Lineup

For the third year, HillyTown Presents is curating the live music lineup at Picnic Music + Arts Festival in Portland, Maine. The annual free festival is happening on Saturday, August 24th in Lincoln Park (corner of Congress + Franklin).

The festival itself is in its sixth year, and one of our favorite things about the music is that the lineup has consistently featured local acts (often including brand new bands playing some of their first gigs), alongside some touring bands. This year, we’re going heavy on the locals in the 10-band lineup, with new acts Leveret, High Spirits, and Gimme Goldar, recent favorites Rural Ghosts, Lisa/Liza, Conjjjecture, Forget,Forget, and Contrapposto, NYC-based Yoni Gordon bringing some city soul to the park, and the triumphant return of a reformed Good Kids Sprouting Horns. Read on for videos and streams to get to know the bands, and remember to make it a whole weekend of great music by picking up tickets for More Hot August Night, On A Boat, AKA Party Barge (Sunday, August 25, $15, 21+, available at Pinecone + Chickadee).

Contrapposto – Cousinfriends (official music video) from Contrapposto on Vimeo.

See you in Lincoln Park!

When Particles Collide – “Ego” official video

Our favorite rock ‘n roll duo from Bangor, When Particles Collide, returns to the stage and the screen (they seem to have a thing for choreographed dance moves) with this brand new video for their track, “Ego.” Watch it now:

HillyTown Presents In Brooklyn! Peter Squires + more

We’re back at it! This Friday, July 19, HillyTown Presents brings you Peter Squires, Hey Anna, and Mission Drift at Union Hall in Brooklyn, NY!

Get tickets / RSVP on Facebook.



Can you believe it’s already that time of the year again? Denmark Arts Center Presents: DAM JAM 2013!

Once again, they’re featuring a few of our favorite Maine acts: Sunset Hearts, Coke Weed, and Jacob Augustine, as well as Mountain Animation, Burlington Taiko Ensemble, and a special set from Kristin Hersh (for the record, we’re big fans of her bands Throwing Muses and 50 Foot Wave, so we find this pretty awesome).

To make the whole thing even better for all of you Portlanders, this year they’re running a bus to get you from the city to the festival! For $20 you get a ticket to the festival and a ride out – leaving from in front of Joe’s Smoke Shop. Get your tickets here (just the festival ticket is $10)!

2013 Northside Festival Showcase Recap

Lisa/Liza at Northside 2013

For the second year in a row, we put together an official showcase as part of the Brooklyn-based Northside Festival. This time, we teamed up with our friends at StereoActiveNYC (full disclosure: HillyTown was sort of an offshoot/Maine-companion of SANYC in the beginning) and had some help from BreakThruRadio to put together a free, all-day show featuring 12 bands. Maine acts included Sunset Hearts, The Coalsack In Crux, and Lisa/Liza, sharing the stage with some familiar Brooklyn bands such as Miniboone, Clouder, and Weird Children (all of whom have done various HillyTown/Maine things over the past couple years) – among others.

Thanks so much to all the bands, the venue, Northside Festival, and everybody who came out to spend their Sunday/Father’s Day with us in Brooklyn!

Head over to the BTR flickr for the whole photo gallery!

HillyTown Northside Festival Showcase Sunday!

While we’ve been keeping things a bit quiet here on the site, we’ve been busy prepping for a full summer of events! Things start off this weekend, as The L Magazine’s Northside Festival takes over North Brooklyn, and we’re back for our second annual HillyTown showcase.

On Sunday, June 16, HillyTown is teaming up with StereoActiveNYC (which you may or may not be familiar as the NYC-based blog/showlist precursor to this site, in a way) for a FREE, ALL DAY official Northside showcase featuring bands from NYC and Maine, all at Spike Hill in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

1pm – JPK (with band) >>> http://jpkisjpk.bandcamp.com/
2pm – LISA/LIZA >>> http://lisalizas.bandcamp.com/
3pm – OWEL >>> http://owel.bandcamp.com/
4pm – COALSACK IN CRUX >>> http://thecoalsackincrux.bandcamp.com/
5pm – LEDA >>> http://leda.bandcamp.com/
6pm – BALL OF FLAME SHOOT FIRE >>> http://ballofflameshootfire.bandcamp.com/
7PM – CULTFEVER >>> http://cultfever.bandcamp.com/
8PM – WEIRD CHILDREN >>> http://weirdchildren.bandcamp.com/
9PM – SUNSET HEARTS >>> http://sunsethearts.bandcamp.com/
10PM – MINIBOONE >>> http://miniboone.bandcamp.com/
11PM – SHARK? >>> http://sharkquestionmark.bandcamp.com/
12AM – CLOUDER >>> http://clouder.bandcamp.com/

co-sponsored by BreakThru Radio


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