Introducing 'Uncomfortable', the latest single by Lottie Liams
Written by Liam Calleja.
Lottie Liams, Melbourne’s very own up-and-coming indie folk angel, says she’s here to serenade you and your houseplants - and her latest single 'Uncomfortable' will leave your leaves doing the monstera mash.
In the second instalment of her upcoming record, Liams continues to explore challenging interpersonal relationships. 'Uncomfortable' is an empowerment anthem and one that focuses on the frustration that arises from being stuck in the emotional purgatory between friend and lover.
With a zinging bass-line and angelic vocals, Liams calls you to expel from your life all those who mean to manipulate, hurt, or confuse you. In her career thus far, Liams has worked and performed alongside some of the country’s best acts, and the experience she has gained is really brought to the fore in 'Uncomfortable'.
"My hope is that the lyrics resonate and ignite that rage against all the useless, manipulative friends and exes out there."
The track is one that speaks of personal exasperation yet, instead of leaving you dejected, Liams' ability to sugar-coat her own uncomfortable moments leaves you feeling anything but.
Radio Monash sits down with Lottie Liams to talk about the inspiration for her track, artistic growth over time, and an ever-evolving sound.
Firstly, how are you coping with the pandemic? Has it affected your creativity or writing at all?
"I’m doing alright, I suppose. It breaks my heart to not be out there gigging it up all over Melbourne, but I’m alive and well and I have lots of time to write new music! That’s easier said than done, of course. Actually sitting down to create new material in lockdown can sometimes feel forced, and I find it hard to be inspired when I’m not out and experiencing things. But I’m writing new stuff with what I’ve got!"
How did Uncomfortable come about and what inspired it? Was there a catalyst moment that created this song?
"To put it simply, this song is about hypocrites. You know those people who love to play victim but are always on the offensive? Who walk all over you but expect you to tiptoe around them? If we’re getting specific - that "just a friend” who doesn’t want to commit to you but doesn’t want you to be with anyone else? Everyone knows one.
I actually came up with the chorus to 'Uncomfortable' when I was 17-18. I was at the end of my tether with a stupid boy and I wanted him to know it, but I didn’t sit down to fully write the song until December of last year. I’m glad I waited until I had the resources and maturity as an artist to tackle this as a pop song."
What personal significance does this song have for you, and how does it fit into your wider discography?
"'Uncomfortable' is the second instalment of a three-part record I made back in January. I wanted to create something that fully explored how it feels to be a victim in toxic relationships. Each song represents a relationship form: familial, platonic, romantic, as well as embodying three separate stages of the relationship’s course and a journey of healing.
'Uncomfortable' is the point of empowerment, that moment of saying “hey, this is unfair. I don’t have to put up with this, it’s not my problem anymore.” The song itself is special for me because it’s one thing to write about someone who has hurt me, but to write a song that calls them out? That’s different and, not gonna lie, pretty awesome. So it was important to me to make this song really catchy and strong to embody the joy of empowerment that comes with saying “I’m done.”"
'Uncomfortable' is more pop-oriented than most of your other songs, is there a particular reason for this and is this an avenue you wish to further explore with future projects?
"I’ve always written songs with very poetic, ethereal language and metaphoric message. It’s my style and what I enjoy most, and is really true to my folk music upbringing and background. But this time around I thought to myself “I want to write a song that’s just straight to the point and says it like it is – I just want to call out someone’s bullshit”. I think with this sort of stark deviation from my lyrical norm, I wanted to up the stakes and mark it with a different vibe to my previous music, too. I really love a challenge and pushing my comfort zone and this is exactly what writing 'Uncomfortable' (aptly named in this sense) served as for me musically.
I wanted to make a pop song, I did, and I can definitely say it’s influenced my sound and songwriting going forward."
'Uncomfortable' speaks of exploitation and manipulation. As such relatable topics for fans to engage with, how do you hope people will feel when they listen to this song?
"There’s nothing better than hearing a song and thinking “holy shit, this is my life”. I think most people out there will have been in the same position I was in that lead me to write 'Uncomfortable', and my hope is that the lyrics resonate and ignite that rage against all the useless, manipulative friends and exes out there. An anthem to end the “situationship”, if you will. A girl can dream, anyway."
Coming from an indie folk background, your music has been evolving towards a darker and more sombre ambience, have there been any specific factors or inspirations that have caused this change?
"I feel like my influences are always changing. I grew up listening to lighthearted folk music and reading poetry and found that that world came easy to me. But that influence morphs and changes and grows as I do. Now I’ve find inspiration in pop and alt vibes and the exploration of creating darker ambiences. I’m always looking to evolve and explore new things, especially when it comes to music. Some musicians find a sound that works for them and that’s what they stick with, but that’s never really been my style. I’m one of those people who wants to conquer all realms, I guess."
It’s been two years since you released your debut EP Greenhouse Blues. How do you feel that you evolved as an artist in that time?
"There was a lot of maturation that happened after I released Greenhouse Blues. I was young, it was my first record, and putting it out into the world really thrust me headfirst into the industry and the full experience of being a recording artist. It was both a very disjointing and very affirming time in my life and it prepared me for moving forward to where I am now, at my next big release. I’m two years older than I was then, and I can’t even begin to measure the amount of experience I’ve gained as a musician in that time. All the gigs I played, all the songs I wrote and all the people I worked with and the confidence I’ve gained; I never could have foreseen any of it back when I was composing Greenhouse Blues, and that just goes to show much I’ve grown in those 2 years."
Your last singles 'Blame it all on me' and now 'Uncomfortable' seem to be derived from bad romantic experiences - do you have a sense of vulnerability or fear when expressing this within your music?
"Of course. I think if there wasn’t that overarching nervousness of- what basically feels like cracking open your ribs and letting the world handle your insides through headphones - then it wouldn’t be real enough. Writing and releasing 'Blame It All On Me' was the first time I felt utterly terrified just putting these emotions into words, let alone the idea of people ever having to hear them, but that’s why art exists, don’t you think? To create something so true to myself that it makes me afraid to show it is exactly why I want to show it. It’s exactly why I started writing music in the first place. And it’s a general rule, I think- if it makes me feel something, odds are it will make someone else feel something too."
How do you draw inspiration for your song writing, is it often from personal experience?
"Most of the time it is personal experience, that’s where the emotions are and what makes the lyrics sincere. But often there’s also a storytelling element too. I have an affinity for literature, I always have. My love for story writing and poetry actually precedes my songwriting career, and so I’ve definitely carried my creative-writing skills over through some of my songs."
You’ve previously toured with artists such as Middle Kids, Ruby Fields and Ukulele Death Squad as well as working with Slowly Slowly’s Ben Stewart, how has working alongside these artists influenced your music?
"Honestly, I think any time you’re in the presence of another artist - especially such talented ones as I’ve had the pleasure of crossing paths with - it changes you. Learning from other artists by watching them perform onstage, understanding how they uniquely express their lyricism… Being an artist for me is like being a sponge: you soak up as much as you can from all the art and the artists you see and allow it to inspire and influence you into perfecting your own artistic identity. In my opinion, there is nothing more valuable to an artist than other artists, and I’m lucky that in my few years as a musician I’ve been personally influenced by some of the best acts in the country."
Were there any particular incidents or interactions with these groups that you feel significantly contributed to your growth and development as an artist?
"My tour shows with Middle Kids and Ruby Fields were a pretty big moment in the sense that they gave me a unique view of the industry and a big insight into the behind the scenes of touring and what that’s like which, as an artist who was just starting out, is an invaluable experience. Similarly working on 'Blame It All On Me' and 'Uncomfortable' in the studio with Ben was artistically a defining opportunity. Getting to learn from his experience and absorb his musical insight is absolutely something that will help me when creating future projects on my own."
Performing and touring with such big names at a young age seems to be quite challenging and daunting, would you do anything different if you were in that position again?
"I was pretty young at the time, and of course there’s insecurity that comes with that. Even though I was always confident on stage, I’d like to think that if I had opportunities like that again I’d be a lot more sure of myself as an artist. I would play the songs I was afraid to play and I would enjoy every second of it without fear, but I think most of all I would have believed that I deserved to be there. It takes a long time to have faith in yourself as an artist and be proud of your hard work and know what you deserve. I’m still learning and I always will, but when all is said and done, I can say I am proud of how little 18-year-old Lottie handled such a big stage with just a tiny ukulele."
As you are now sporting a full backing band, how are you looking to further evolve your sound in future projects?
"My hope is to just get bigger and better, in terms of sound and otherwise. Having my band now allows me to explore more dynamic song writing by working with other people, as well as to focus on putting on a spectacular live show with more elements other than myself. I’ll still be there front and centre, but it’s gonna be a hell of a lot cooler sharing the stage with my pals now and making awesome music with them."
Are there any projects that you are currently working on?
"I had many projects in the works prior to COVID-19 related to this record - music videos, gigs, what have you - but I’ve had to put a pause on those things for the time being. Right now I’ve got my eyes on the future; the next big thing I have in mind after this record is fully released is a project I’ve been working on for years, since I first started out as a songwriter. So there’s a lot of writing, composing, and cogs turning in this little noggin of mine while I wait out this enforced hiatus."
Can we expect any more new music soon?
"Well, I can assure you that the final instalment of my three-part record shouldn’t be too far behind this release – I’d have to say the final song is my favourite of all three singles, so stay tuned for that!"