ED2013 Interviews ED2013 Music ED2013 Week0 Edition

Lior: Checking into the Fringe flow

By | Published on Monday 24 June 2013


Amidst all that comedy and theatre, some people miss the excellent music programme at the Fringe each year, and those who find it are sometimes put off by the fact a lot of the musicians who visit the festival are only around for one night. But there is a community of musicians who, like their theatrical and comedy brethren, set up for a residency at the Festival.
And one such artist to look out for this year is Australian (via Israel) singer-songwriter Lior, who has enjoyed considerable success back home with his three self-released albums. Having, in recent years, also built up a loyal fanbase in Europe, this August he will set up residence for two weeks at Assembly’s new venue Checkpoint. We spoke to Lior to find out more.

CC: For the uninitiated, let’s start at the start – when did you start making and performing music?
L: Well that depends how you define “making and performing music”. I was an air guitar prodigy by the age of six. As far as playing a real guitar, I started when I was about ten years old and by the time I was fourteen my main interest was songwriting. As far as really making and performing music, I hope to be able to do that by the time I get to Edinburgh in a few weeks time!

CC: Other than telling them to go and listen to some tracks on your website, how would you describe your music to someone coming across you for the first time?
L: Ah the dreaded “describe your music” question! Why is it easy to describe everyone else’s music but your own? I suppose at the heart of it, the songs are very much about the lyric. While there are many musical influences that go into my vocal delivery, particularly Middle Eastern stylings that reflect my heritage, I would say that the music has a strong connection to the songwriting era of the late 60s and early 70s where it was all about a song standing up on the lyric and melody alone.

CC: You self-released your debut album ‘Autumn Flow’ in 2005 . Why did you decide to go that route, and what challenges did making that first solo record pose?
L: It was during my early 20s, after having played in bands for many years, that I finally built up the courage to step out on to a stage on my own. I always knew that my identity was that of a singer/songwriter and that I wouldn’t be much good in an environment where I had to compromise on the writing of the song. I compare the main challenges of being a solo artist to that of an author, long periods of necessary isolation, and having to ride the creative lows mostly on your own. There is definitely a sense of camaraderie in a band environment that is special and often missed.

CC: For an album you released yourself, ‘Autumn Flow’ was hugely successful in Australia. Did the success come as a surprise, given that simply having a great record never guarantees success?
L: Yes, it was a real surprise. One of those beautiful and rare moments in life where expectations are hugely exceeded. I self funded and released the album entirely independently and had little to no expectations of commercial success for the album. It was purely something I knew I had to do to retain my sanity. I was pinching myself a lot that year.

CC: An increasing number of musicians – both new and established – have started considering releasing their own records in recent years, mainly because of the rise of online promotional and pre-order platforms. But it’s a challenge, especially for new artists. What tips would you have for anyone considering going that route?
L: I don’t see myself as someone who can give tips on this. When I released ‘Autumn Flow’ independently back in 2005, it was a completely different landscape. There was still no iTunes in Australia. Instead people went out to shops and bought these funny little discs that they now use as coasters. But social media has meant communication is easy, so rather than the communication channels being exclusively decided by record companies, we now have a much more open environment where those with the most creative ideas can thrive, which is a wonderful thing. Ultimately, creativity is the challenge.

CC: You played the Edinburgh Fringe once before a few years back. What as persuaded you to come back for a sixteen date run?
L: I only performed a couple of shows the last time I was at the Fringe, and I loved the festival and the city itself. Even judging from the difference between the first and second night I performed, I could see that the festival was all about word of mouth and having a chance to build and connect with an audience. I felt a strong urge to return and camp out at the festival and not only enjoy the momentum it has to offer, but be inspired by the endless talent floating about.

CC: You’ve played quite a bit in Europe, how do audiences over here compare to at home?
L: These days I am fortunate enough to have a connected audience so the differences are marginal. There is a bit more of an established audience artist relationship culture in many parts of Europe which make it a more embracing environment for artists to perform in. For many years, music venues in Australia happened to be where people went for a drink, so music was a secondary focus. You had to earn your stripes growing up playing music before being allotted the privilege of a silent room. This is changing though and the gap in that respect is closing fast.

CC: What can we expect from the Edinburgh shows this August?
L: These will be solo intimate shows where it’s really all about delivering the songs at their core. If successful I will be magically transporting you into my lounge room. If not, I hear the venue is still really nice.

CC: Have you got any other plans for your time at the Fringe – any other shows, comedians or musicians you are hoping to see perform?
L: Fortunately for me I have already spotted a couple of shows at my own venue, the Assembly Checkpoint, that I am excited about seeing (not least Ali McGregor and The Les Clochards). Then again, from what I can remember, aimlessly wandering around at the festival can lead to some fine treasures.

CC: What have you got planned beyond the Festival for later this year?
L: I have a national tour in Australia performing with the major orchestras which I’m very excited about. I’ll also be recording my new album upon return. And I hope to do a fair bit of international touring next year. But for now… see you soon!

Lior played at Assembly Checkpoint at Edinburgh Festival 2013. 

LINKS: www.lior.com.au