On their debut EP All My Charm and Grace, West Philly’s Liz and the Lost Boys had a quirky, folksy thing going on; since its release, the band’s sound evolved exponentially. A studied classical pianist and harp player, frontwoman Liz Ciavlino pushed her songwriting in more expansive directions, incorporating sultry jazz, pop and rock sounds into the mix with players Will Wright (bass), Dane Galloway (guitar), and Eric Huefner (drums). We got a taste of that broader sound and scope when Liz and the Lost Boys recorded a Key Studio Session last month, and even more so when the band released its self-titled debut album this week. The band celebrates the album’s release tonight at MilkBoy with Anjuli Josephine and Son Step on the bill. We caught up with Ciavolino to talk about musical growth, teaching versus performing, and skirting the pigeonholes that come with playing harp.
The Key: Compared to the your EP, there’s a very exploratory element to the full album. How did that develop?
Liz Ciavolino: Good question. I think that the album that I have right now is something that I’ve been working on for a long time, and it’s kind of almost, I always wanted to make something like this, but I wasn’t capable of it before. I came out of a classical music background. I always envisioned music that was a little bigger than that EP, just a little more varied and longer songs and stuff like that. That’s what I wanted to do, but since that EP I felt like I had to put a lot of time into a lot of different skills – not only my instruments and songwriting, but also learning how to collaborate with people, how to work with other musicians in a way that we all were making something that I was happy with and they were happy with. That’s been something I’ve definitely spent a lot of time working on and thinking about. It might sound silly, but that was a really hard thing for me to get my head around.
TK: You teach music too, right? Has that affected how you perform and collaborate?
LC: I’ve just been teaching for a year now. This is my one year anniversary this month, of being a piano teacher. That definitely has helped me to be a stronger musician on the whole, just to get to talk and think about music all the time, everyday is awesome. I couldn’t ask for a better job.
TK: And since you have to talk to your students about what they’re playing, does it make it easier for you to your band mates about what you’re collectively playing?
LC: I would say so. When it comes to being a musician, there are all these different skills that you have to have, and work on. It’s not just being able to play scales really fast or be awesome at your instrument. I definitely think being a teacher has made me a much more well-rounded musician, and collaborating with my band mates has made me a much more well-rounded musician. So it’s these different skills that all help each other in lots of different ways. Continue reading →