INTERVIEW WITH LIZ QUELER FROM TheCelebrityCafe.com ARCHIVES
DM) On this album, you showed a few different musical inspirations. I was especially impressed by the Gershwin. What types of music did your parents play for you when you were growing up?
LQ) Actually, the Gershwin has nothing to do with my parents… that’s from my own musical explorations over the years (I was heavily into jazz for a spell). I think that particular tune is a perfectly crafted gem of a tune. I love singing it, and it was great to have the opportunity to record it. As for music played around my house as I was growing up, it was all classical… mostly opera, and often live. My mother is an opera conductor, and I would often come home from school to rehearsals in our living room. In fact, my Mom put me in the children’s chorus at the New York City Opera, where I sang for eight years.
DM) I saw that someone wrote about you and was comparing you to Bonnie Raitt and Melissa Etheridge. How much of that would you consider accurate as opposed to being a female singer/songwriter?
LQ) Well, of course, I am a female singer/songwriter (there are many of us these days), and people will always categorize and compare. I’m asked constantly to describe my music and, though I’d love to be unique, I’m not. I’m a hybrid of all I’ve heard over the years (opera included). The Bonnie Raitt comparison, I take as a great compliment. There are few women performers I admire as much as I do her, and she’s certainly had an influence on my music. Melissa Etheridge came along far later in my own development as an artist, so, although I’m a fan of her music, she hasn’t really impacted my writing or singing (although I understand where that comparison would come from. Truly, I’ve heard so many “you remind me of(s)…” that I simply accept it as the natural inclination for people to categorize and cross-reference. This is going to happen. If they like what I do, I don’t really care about the rest of it.
DM) Are you self taught or did you take music lessons?
LQ) I had quite a bit of training. As I mentioned before, I sang in operas from the age of eight until I was 16. During this time, I played violin for five years, then switched over to piano and also picked up the guitar. I took lessons on and off for years on both these instruments, ultimately letting the piano slip to focus on playing and accompanying myself live. I’ve had many different wonderful teachers over the years, but I also spent hours, for years, sitting in between the speakers of my stereo, learning every lick and nuance of singers from Bonnie Raitt to Stevie Wonder and Chaka Kahn, until I could match them turn for turn. The learning, of course, never stops, and if I allow myself a moment to think about it, I get overwhelmed by how much I don’t know and how much more I want to learn. That’s the beauty of music, and the frustration. You never reach the end.
DM) You mentioned “learning every lick and nuance of singers from Bonnie Raitt to Stevie Wonder and Chaka Kahn until I could match them turn for turn.” How much of a performance is based on physical gestures?
LQ) I’m referring to musical and vocal “licks and nuances.”
DM) What was the first rock song you learned to play?
LQ) I don’t actually recall the first rock song I learned. One of the true ground-breaking songs for me, though, was a song by Melanie called “The Saddest Thing.” This ended up being sort of my signature song for a while. I won a singing competition with it in school and was then asked to perform it at my eighth grade graduation. It stuck with me for a while after that, too.
DM) When you were in the chorus, did you look at it as a hobby, or were you dreaming of making it a career?
LQ) I was a kid (8-16 years old), and being in the chorus was just a really fun thing I’d do evenings and weekends. I don’t think I thought in terms of career at the time.
DM) You obviously have a VERY strong opera background. Have you thought of making that your career?
LQ) I do have a strong opera background, but I don’t have an operatic voice, so no, I never considered it.
DM) Where in New York did you grow up?
LQ) Upper West Side of New York City.
DM) Which one of your songs is most personal to you?
LQ) Really hard question to answer, and I’m sure I’d answer it differently on different days of the week, depending on what particular events may be surrounding that time frame. Tunes that have cut especially close to the bone are “River of Time” and “Change of Heart.”