One week before Lenny Kravitz was about to embark on his Love Revolution tour in 2008 Lissie Maurus was asked to join him as his opening act.
“I was working with a guy who was managing Lenny at the time,” Maurus, known by her stage name Lissie, says. “Lenny was wanting to do a small theatre tour. The guy I was working with showed him my MySpace page.”
Kravitz liked what he heard from the Illinois folk/rock singer and Lissie soon found herself performing in front of sold-out crowds in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, Minneapolis, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Boston and New York.
“It was the best thing for me to see how it all works. How touring works, how hard they work and how grueling it is to sing every night,” Lissie says. “It was a good lesson for me to observe them on tour. He was really friendly and lovely to me.”
Lissie releases her new album, Back to Forever on Columbia Records on Oct. 8.
“It took me about a year and a half to write and record, after releasing and touring the first album,” Lissie says. “I think people who liked Catching a Tiger will recognize that Back To Forever is in the same musical world, but I think Back to Forever is a little bit tougher and the song writing is a bit more detailed.”
“I am really excited for people to hear it. It’s more rock/pop and less folk in there as I think people are expecting, so I hope it doesn’t freak them out,” Lissie adds.
The Rock Island, IL, native began singing when she was five-years-old and at nine she played the title role in the musical Annie.
“I wasn’t into acting as much,” she says. “I just really liked to sing for people. In junior high I learned to play the guitar but I didn’t get serious about it until I was 15,” Lissie says. “At 15 I started to write songs and teach myself guitar chords.”
Growing up, Lissie listened to various genres and appreciated music by artists such as Courtney Love, Celine Dion, Alanis Morissette, Sarah McLaughlin, Janis Joplin and Sheryl Crow.
“There were all these women who played guitars and were outspoken and wrote great songs and their looks weren’t overly girly or sexualized. I think that really inspired me,” she says.
Lissie attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO, for two years. “When I went there it was the first time I was ever part of a music scene,” she says. “It gave me an opportunity to grow even more into what that live scene was all about. In high school I didn’t really know anyone that was in a band and we didn’t have that kind of culture. I got that culture in Colorado but I knew before then that I was going pursue music as a living. I was just waiting to figure out how it was going to happen.”
In 2004, she collaborated with DJ Harry on a single “All My Life” which was eventually featured in episodes of The O.C., House, Veronica Mars, Wildfire and the documentary, Who Killed The Electric Car.
“It feels really good and it’s validating and it’s also just cool to be part of a bigger narrative,” Lissie says.
Lissie’s other songs have been featured in episodes of Melrose Place, Grey’s Anatomy, So You Think You Can Dance, Basketball Wives, One Tree Hill, and Californication.
“I don’t really write songs knowing where they will be placed but it is fun to see how my songs take on a new life when they’re paired with a TV spot,” she says.
Lissie moved to Los Angeles in 2007 and released her first EP on Lionboy Records.
“I started out as a solo singer/songwriter who was writing folk music as well as pop music,” she says. “As I’ve played with different artists and worked with different producers it has given me different platforms to explore.”
In 2008, she co-wrote The Longest Road with DJ Morgan Page. The song reached number four on Billboard’s Hot Dance Club song chart.
Later this month, Lissie will be performing in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Germany, Switzerland and the U.K. to support Back to Forever.
“I’m excited. We’ve been doing a lot since May,” she says. “After taking some time off to make the record it’s going to be really fun to get back out on the road again. My band and I live for the hour and half that we are on stage. That’s what all the travelling and early mornings is all about it.”
In late November Lissie starts the North American portion of her tour with a performance on her birthday in Toronto. She plays Seattle on Dec. 5 but so far has nothing booked in B.C.
“I wish I was coming to Vancouver,” she says. “My sister lived there for a few years and we’ve been there and I think we will come there in the new year.”
Lissie says that when she first started touring adjusting to time zones was very difficult for her.
“When I first started doing it, it was really hard,” she explains. “I would be crying at six in the morning because I was so tired. There is something so bizarre about jetlag because it can not only make you tired but it can also make you emotionally tired.”
Over the years, she has learned to adapt to different time zones overseas.
“You can’t take a nap,” Lissie says. “If you get into Europe in the morning, you cannot take a nap regardless of how tired you are. You have to stay awake until about midnight and then you’re so tired that you sleep. If you take a nap on that first day you’re going to be screwed for like a week and a half.”
For more information on Lissie visit lissie.com or follow @LissieMusic on Twitter.
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