Each Saturday, John Moyle brings you the best examples of new Australian songs and music videos. This week: Lisa Richards’ ‘Little Bird’.
Lisa Richards is an Australian powerhouse singer/songwriter you may not have heard of, but if there is justice, her latest single ‘Little Bird’ will rectify that.
The song and video were both recorded and shot in New York, after which Lisa intended to come back to Australia to promote through radio and live concerts.
And then Covid-19 hit and everything turned inwards.
Ironically, this almost the perfect setting for ‘Little Bird’ to flourish, as the song is about overcoming adversity in its many forms.
For Richards it’s a chance to reset in her home country and set about breaking out of obscurity through a series of small concerts conducted in Covid-safe conditions.
“I now live in Canberra after I moved back from the USA after living in New York City and Austin, Texas for 22 years,” Richards said.
Richards grew up in Townsville with a medico father and a concert pianist mother who discouraged the playing of instruments in the house.
Her mother was later injured in a car accident and needed full-time care and medication. At this time Richards was also bombarded with anti-psychotics for a number of perceived disorders.
By her teens Richards had gone down an all too familiar pathway of drugs and alcohol that soon saw her busking in Kings Cross before leaving for the United States and a peripatetic life in clubs and crash pads, before ditching the pills and booze completely.
“I started singing in my 20s and picked up the guitar when I was 30 and made my first of six albums,” Richards said.
“The first one I did was on a spec deal with three different producers, where the producers would invest time and money and energy and their art into creating something and then shopping it to the labels.”
This was followed by a second album, also produced on spec, after which Richards moved to the music capital of America – Austin, Texas,
“The first album in Austin was more collaborative and I co-wrote the songs with the producer and it was recorded in my house,” Richards said.
“The one after that I recorded again in my house in Austin with my husband at the time, and we set up in the living room and got players to come in.”
“I do have a body of work and I am a free agent and I am going to keep creating work and in my mind it just keeps getting deeper and richer as I keep living and having experiences.”
This is the place in Richards’ life from where ‘Little Bird’ comes from.
The video is also a special piece of work, as it was done as a gift to Richards by three-times Emmy Award director, Consuelo Gonzalez.
It was shot over five hours during winter in NYC on a Sony PXW-X70 with no crew, the camera on sticks and only natural light.
Gonzalez said the idea was “to give each verse a different look, with the chorus being the lightest and pastel and somewhat birdlike with emerald/aqua”.
The video was then edited and colour corrected using Premiere Pro.
“Though she’s always a great storyteller, I fell for this one, coming from a little bird with such ferocity buried inside as in ‘I’m a dervish whirling on the edges of your bravest dreams’,” Gonzalez said.
There are few positives about the pandemic but one is that it has given Richards the time to reset, reflect and begin building her Australian career.
“The big thing for me since coming back to Australia is working to create a community around me and I am just starting now,” Richards said.
Supported by an ActACT grant, the single ‘Little Bird’ is from Richards’ sixth album I Got A Story, recorded in Woodstock and Brooklyn, and produced by Tim Bright.
Video shot and post produced in NYC by Consuelo Gonzalez.