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Liz Phair on Chicago, 'Funstyle'
MUSIC
by Jerry Nunn
2011-01-19

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Chicago-area singer Liz Phair grew from indie artist to pop rock princess with hits such as "Why Can't I?" and "Extraordinary." In the meantime she composed the theme song for The CW's 90210 reboot, winning an ASCAP award for Top Television Composer. Now she's back with a set of new tunes on Funstyle.

Windy City Times: Hi, Liz. So where are you heading?

Liz Phair: I'm heading to Vancouver, across the border. Hopefully with a lot rapidity and ease. I am currently sitting on luggage waiting for them to bring the van.

WCT: So you are just out promoting the album?

Liz Phair: Yeah, we are touring. I'm doing a little West Coast leg, and just getting back my chops, getting out on the road and playing live. I haven't played live in over two years.

WCT: You are coming to Chicago.

Liz Phair: Oh, yeah.

WCT: Every one thinks of you as a Chicago artist.

Liz Phair: Well, I grew up there.

WCT: You're from Winnetka, Ill., right?

Liz Phair: Yes.

WCT: And then you moved to L.A.…

Liz Phair: Yeah, I definitely don't think of myself of a L.A. artist, I never will. If I'm not a Chicago artist then I am a New York Artist because of Matador Records. I am either one of the two but, no, I am not an L.A. artist.

WCT: Well let's talk about the new album. It's called Funstyle—is it meant for you to have fun with this music?

Liz Phair: No, it's a label that my composing partner and I came up with because we were like, "What is this wacky stuff we are doing?" It was freaking everybody out, like my management [and] my label, and we were just laughing. There was a huge amount of humor on the making of this album. It was a fun record to make. We were joking, "Like what is this?"

WCT: Sounds like a different way to compose music.

Liz Phair: We even played it for some guys that were in studios in the same studio building we are working in and they are all hip-hop producers. They were looking at us like, "What the hell is this shit?" We said, "It's Funstyle!" It's not telling you to have fun; it is telling you the style of how we were doing it.

Even the stuff on Funstyle that is a band jam was fun style; we just literally all got up from our seats—me, the one-armed drummer, anyone in the room. I asked, "What can you play? Get up there right now, and we are just going to blare it out and just do it now." That's Funstyle. Everyone had a great time recording these songs and then if you catch one, if one comes up into being the way you want it to sound, the way you heard it in your head, sort of speaks heaven, then you got it, and there's a lot of stuff that didn't make the record, that was done fun style but didn't last.

WCT: You also made a second disc to it.

Liz Phair: I don't think it's any different than laboring over something and making it perfect. That is totally appropriate in some instances but its also totally appropriate to catch the beauties that happen to fall on your lap.

WCT: Well there is quiet a variety on there. You have a "Bollywood" song and Dave Matthews did some stuff with you.

Liz Phair: Yup.

WCT: How did you wind up working with him?

Liz Phair: I met him through mutual friends and we just absoultely hit it off. We just immediately knew that we loved each other and wanted to do something musically. We may again, you know he's just someone that I always hope will be in my life and he's just awesome.

WCT: Are you going to do more omposing in the world of television?

Liz Phair: Definitely. We are just waiting for the right person to give us the right job. I love TV composing; it's really, really fun. I feel very natural doing it and it feels very right.

WCT: You are doing well with it.

Liz Phair: It seems so. Any time you are in between jobs you think, "Will I ever get another one?" [Both laugh.]

WCT: Is your website ( www.lizphair.com ) under construction? I was confused by it.

Liz Phair: No, we are building it as we go. It's all fun style, my friend. Whenever it happens, it's a growing thing. I particularly like that. I got really tired of the whole major-label system, where everything is perfect and done. All this money has been dump into it and you just pray that all of it will work. If it doesn't you lost a billion dollars. I'm so sick of that. I think its fun to watch things grow, evolve and change.

WCT: The music business had changed a lot since you've been in it.

Liz Phair: Yes, a lot.

WCT: People are selling records out their cars now. It's not the same and people have to find different ways to market music.

Liz Phair: I think so, too. I think that that's good. It is freeing. Yeah, we are all suffering financially but maybe, creatively, we're blossoming.

Watch Liz as she blossoms onstage at the Metro, 3730 N. Clark, on Saturday, Jan. 22, at 8 p.m. For tickets visit www.metrochicago.com .


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