Contributed By Adeye Adane
Meet Liza, a recent Ryerson graduate born and raised in Toronto, of Ethiopian heritage. She is a young singer/songwriter making music about her experiences and sharing it via social media. Liza debuted her first single “Just Chill” this past February, followed by the April release of “Suffocated” that now has over 50k plays on Soundcloud. I recently visited Ryerson campus, in the heart of downtown Toronto, to meet with Liza. I was lucky enough to catch up with her before she headed to the studio. With a cup of coffee in her hand, we sat in the SLC discussing music, her creative process and the perks of being Habesha.
Adeye: How would you describe your sound?
Liza: I’d describe it as constantly evolving based on my experiences. Right now, finishing up university, I am experiencing a lot of change and that will reflect on my current music.
I think that everyone goes through similar experiences, and what makes an individual an artist, is the ability to transform those experiences and feelings into music. I incorporate music I grew up listening to.
Adeye: What kind of music was that?
Liza: I listened to a lot of Ethiopian music, Aster and Teddy Afro.
Adeye: I wanted to mention the falsetto in “Suffocated” reminds me of Ethiopian music every time I hear it.
Liza: Really? Someone else mentioned that to me. Also Marvin Gaye; my dad put me on to him. Alicia keys for sure, Lauryn Hill, Lionel Richie, and Stevie Wonder.
Adeye: Do you play any instruments?
Liza: I play guitar here and there, and piano.
Adeye: What made you seriously pursue music?
Liza: I have been singing since I was little, like 4 years old. It really started after I came back from my trip to Ethiopia. I went by myself, I got to be alone and I was trying to figure out where I wanted to go with my life.
Adeye: Do you have any singers or musicians in your family?
Liza: No serious musicians, just my uncle that sings and plays piano.
Adeye: What are your influences? I know you mentioned some before…
Liza: Musically and lyrically Frank Ocean.
Adeye: I love Frank Ocean.
Liza: Ne-yo, Marvin Gaye, Lauryn Hill, John Legend, Alicia Keys and J. Cole, I think every Habesha loves him. (Laughs)
Adeye: What is your favorite album?
Liza: It’s hard to choose just one, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, The Score (The Fugees), What’s Going On (Marvin Gaye), College Dropout (Kanye West), and The Warm Up (J. Cole). I forgot to mention before, Michael Jackson influenced me, Janet Jackson and Toni Braxton. Definitely Janet Jackson.
Adeye: Is there a major theme or message you want to get across?
Liza: I write my own experiences, you can learn about me through my music. I don’t have a specific message. I want people to draw their own meaning from my words.
Adeye: What was your first concert that you attended?
Liza: I saw Beyoncé once, I think it was at Dundas Square.
Adeye: Oh the free one, I was there too I waited 6 hours.
Adeye: Do you work with a team?
Liza: There are a few really close people I work with in order to attain my goals.
Adeye: How did you meet them?
Liza: Different music events, the vibe is important when you meet someone and then work with them. I’m really lucky to have the people I have. Even my family, especially my sister.
Adeye: What are you working on for the future?
Liza: I just graduated.
Adeye: Congratulations lelelelele!
Liza: Lelelelele! I’ve been working on an EP to be released soon and I’m performing a lot more now that I have less on my plate.
Adeye: What artists would you want to collaborate with? I don’t want to limit this, so dead or alive.
Liza: Definitely Frank Ocean, J. Cole, Lauryn Hill, John Legend. Marvin Gaye; I wish, Bob Marley; I wish, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and Drake.
Adeye: Where can people find your music?
Liza: Soundcloud at liza_waz.
Adeye: Do you have any shows coming up?
Liza: There are going to be a lot more during the summer, nothing is confirmed yet.
Adeye: Do you write your own music?
Liza: Yes. It’s a craft that I’m still learning every day. It happens when I’m studying, I think of just a random melody and I start humming. Or I’ll be in a room and hear a word in a conversation that inspires me.
In reference to the lyrics in “Just chill”
“Watching TV, maybe some Fresh Prince, even some Digimon…”
I have to ask, Digimon? I love watching Fresh Prince too.
Liza: I used to be so obsessed with Digimon.
I think that makes your song stand out, like that’s the Digimon song! A lot of songs sound so similar and blend into each other, you need something memorable.
Liza: So many people talked to me about it, they think it’s corny. But I really would watch Digimon, I haven’t watched it in so long. People told me to take it off the song, but it’s me. I’m not going to change my lyrics.
This interview has been paraphrased. And the views expressed here in are not necessarily that of ethiofidel.