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The Creative Issue – News for Creatives | January 21, 2021

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Moaning Lisa Discuss New Music, Girls To The Front and BIGSOUND

Moaning Lisa Discuss New Music, Girls To The Front and BIGSOUND
Taylor Furby

We had a chat to Charlie from Moaning Lisa just after supporting WAAX on their single tour.

Hailing from Canberra, Moaning Lisa is a band comprised of music school graduates and dropouts. Consisting of four members, they are proud feminists and advocates in the LGBTQI+ community. They’re the band behind ‘Carrie’ which was picked up by Triple J at the start of the year and have followed it up with their latest single ‘Good’ last month. They recently joined WAAX on their national tour for their latest single and have just been announced on the BIGSOUND lineup as well as Spilt Milk in Canberra.

We had a chat with their vocalist, Charlie, about their upcoming festivals and new music. Starting off with their latest tour with WAAX. “They’ve set the bar so high for main support tours because that’s the first one we’ve ever done and all the crowds were so great and it was fantastic. I was nervous about them liking us as people probably more so than us playing. The one place that I don’t actually feel that nervous is on stage which is bizarre. I always get nervous that people will find us a bit too crazy off stage or not like us. Then they’ll be like ‘well we won’t go on tour with them again’ so I was nervous about that. But straight away they were so warm and inviting. We had a lot in common with them which was nice. They honestly are [nice]. You know how you see bands and they’re so good you think they must be assholes because their music is so good. They’re to complete opposite. I hate them because they’re nice people and so good at music like can you leave some for the rest of us?”

Coming from a small town like Canberra, they don’t see many big acts in the nation’s capital. “Yeah, it’s quite small. There’s not many people here, first off, but I feel like the artist per capita is so high in Canberra. Everyone’s so different but equally supportive. You’ll see the same people at shows and everyone’s in everyone else’s bands as well. Which is really cool because we’re all a big family. There’s been a bit of a struggle with some our favourite venues lately in terms of the peaks and troughs of the live music scene in general anywhere. We have periods where there are less people going out and financial struggles and stuff like that but we always pull through. We’re in a little bit of a slump at the moment but I’m confident that it’s going to come back up again.”

Joining the likes of Childish Gambino, Peking Duk and Jack River, Moaning Lisa are on Canberra’s Spilt Milk lineup. “It’s an amazing lineup, I’m so stoked they asked us. We’re going to be little fishies in a big pond again. Like with Groovin The Moo, we were the first people there and we were way too keen and everyone else was like ‘can you chill out?’ and we were like ‘free food!’”

If you were at WAAX’s Brisbane show last month and caught Moaning Lisa, you would have noticed a moment where they encourage girls to come to the front. This has been a huge movement among the music industry to make women feel more comfortable at live shows and Charlie has seen a huge difference at shows. “Especially after that Brisbane show where there were a couple of dudes up the front who weren’t moving back and I got a bit angry at them because I’m just not about it. The amount of times that we have women or non-binary people or queer people or just smaller people who just want to enjoy the vibe and don’t want to have to deal with gross dudes getting too put their faces.

“The amount of times that they’ve said ‘thank you so much for actually saying something and making it a point’ because it’s all well and good to say ‘yeah we’re girls and we’re here for other girls’ but to actually implement it. It just makes it so worth it, I’d rather have a couple of drunk dudes get mad at me and not come to a show again and have the girls feel safe and comfortable and like they’re being treated with the respect they deserve. It’s been pretty good so far like I feel like the kind of music we make wouldn’t really attract the kind of people who would be against that sort of thing so that definitely helps. I love seeing other bands doing it as well because it’s just such a no brainer for us. When the band convinces people to go wild, it makes my heart sink because people are going to interpret that as the band supporting their stupid behaviour and make it a really uncomfortable experience for these other people. I hate when people say to open up the pit.”

The disheartening truth is that violence and sexual assaults almost come with the territory at some gigs but that doesn’t discourage Moaning Lisa. “The complete opposite, I want to do it more because if people have options to go to a show where they know they’re going to be safe and they know they’re going to be taken care of. That’s what I’m about. I’m so sick of being nice at shows because they’re not listening.”

The latest single ‘Good’ was the highly anticipated follow up from ‘Carrie’ but is all we’re going to hear from the band for at least a couple of months. “We have so many [songs] that we’re just holding onto and our managers are just like ‘no this is good, just let them have this song for while before you release anything else.’ But we have so much we want to share. We’re going to have an EP out which will be a five track EP which will have a bonus track as well. The last EP we released was four tracks so I’m excited to release one that’s a bit more substantial.

“We want to play more headline shows and do longer sets and show people more music. We have so much to share with people but I think for now we’re just easing people in a bit. Especially with how Triple J picked up ‘Carrie’, that was the first time we had gotten airplay on Triple J and in a more mainstream media. So we’re still riding this wave of easing people in so when we release the EP you can get a full package of it. We’re really excited for the next couple of years, releasing stuff more regularly and having more people hear it. It’ll be so good.”

‘Carrie’ has become somewhat of an anthem particularly to people in the LGBTQI+ community but Charlie wasn’t expecting its success. “Not in the slightest. I wrote it a couple of years ago now and I was heartbroken in my bedroom, I had a bottle of wine and had my ukulele and I was musing about all these things that I wanted. It was more of a sad song to begin with then when I took it to the band I was hesitant because I didn’t want us to be labeled as this queer band only and pigeon hole us and have this really person song to me be representative of our entire act. But having the drums and the guitars and having Hayley, who is our other singer in the band, do harmonies over the top made it such a big empowering positive anthem sort of song that I knew had to be out in the world. I really wasn’t expecting much when we released it because as much as the music industry is becoming more supportive of queer voices, I still wasn’t 100% sure it was the right move to be releasing it as a single but I’m so glad we did and I’m so glad people are liking it so much. I definitely wasn’t expecting it but I’m so glad and now that I think about it it’s such a no brainer that people connected to it because there’s so many of us out there.”

Before Spilt Milk, Moaning Lisa will be back in Brisbane for a few showcases at BIGSOUND in September but how’s Charlie feeling about BIGSOUND? “Very nervous because it’s that thing again about worrying that people won’t like me as a person. I’m not worried about playing the shows, I’m worried about getting off stage and being really hyper and trying to talk to these important people who just want us to be normal. We’re very intense people. But whenever I’ve gone with my gut and fully embraced my own ideals we’ve gotten the best response so I’m just going to go with that.”

Being a strong ambassador for women and people in the LGBTQI+ community, she had some advice for those wanting to get into music. “Just trust your gut instinct. You’ll have so many people tell you to try and police you and tell you to not be so forthright and hold back parts of yourself. I’ve found that when we’ve done the exact opposite of that, we’ve gotten the best response. So I would say just trust your gut, be as expressive as you can and just trust yourself. As artists, you have to have this self confidence to be able to get your point across properly and I would say channelling yourself. If someone said to you, no matter how high up in the industry they are or how important that you think they are, if it doesn’t feel right to you just don’t go with it.”

So who in the industry do they find particularly empowering? “I feel like a majority of the people and musicians in the music industry that we’re surrounding ourselves with are all so empowering and that’s why we want them around. There’s a band called Sports Bra who we’re really close with and Library Siesta up in Sydney and WAAX up there and Major Leagues in Brisbane. They took a chance on us really early on and are absolutely beautiful people and have the same sort of sentiments as us. Also Ali Barter, we played with, and she’s just a walking beacon of inspiration. You have one conversation with her and you want to go write a song. It’s really incredible the amount of people who are out there and are actually supportive. I feel like there’s such an old sentiment of women pinning themselves against each other in any aspect as a competitive vibe but I feel like there’s a big group of us that are just supporting each other and getting behind each other. Antonio and the Lazy Susans as well. We’re really surrounded by warm, encouraging beautiful people. I would have to have three days to list off all the bands that are inspiring to us at the moment.”

Having only started in 2016, they’ve already been able to experience things only veteran bands have experienced so what’s the next goal. “That’s such a hard question because I feel like that’s constantly changing as more and more things happen. At the beginning of the year, I wanted to get on one festival lineup this year that was a big festival then we got Groovin The Moo. I would love to be able to go overseas and play some shows overseas because I just love travelling so my next goal is doing an overseas tour. I’m just taking it each day. I feel like my surprise meter has become very low because things keep popping up and happening and I get overwhelmed by it. I have to take a step back and reduce the things in my mind a bit more. The goals are just ever changing. Getting on the Spilt Milk lineup with someone like Childish Gambino, if you told me that a month ago I would have said that that was a goal for five years down the track but then it happens now. I’m setting very vague goals at the moment and seeing how they go.”

Keep up to date with Moaning Lisa using the links below and find tickets to BIGSOUND here.

Facebook: Moaning Lisa
Instagram: @mlband
Twitter: @MoaningLisaBand

What: BIGSOUND Festival
Where: Fortitude Valley QLD 4006
When: September 4th to 7th
Websitelink to website
More Info: 18+ event

Image Credit: Kalindy Williams