Since breaking through in 1994 with her number one single “Stay (I Missed You),” singer/songwriter Lisa Loeb has had a long and successful career in the music business. Not only has she had other hit songs and best-selling albums, but she has established herself as a popular artist in the children’s music genre. Impressively, in 2018 she won the Grammy Award for Best Children’s Album, for her Feel What U Feel album.
Loeb may be known mainly for her hits in the ‘90s, but she is an excellent example of an independent artist who has found a way to build a varied, rewarding career that has spanned decades.
As a singer/songwriter, Loeb is returning with her first original adult album in seven years. On February 28, she will be releasing her new album, A Simple Trick To Happiness. Loeb says that this album is a very personal one, and it’s filled with new stories and inspiring messages of daily insight for living one’s best life. The album includes key songs such as “Skeleton,” “Another Day,” “Doesn’t It Feel Good,” “This Is My Life” and “Sing Out.”
We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Loeb, about her new album, her songwriting, and her additional career as a children’s music artist. But before we get started, here’s a brief rundown of her single and album credits, and her other projects.
Following her 1994 single “Stay (I Missed You),” which reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, Loeb signed with Geffen Records and had several other chart singles, including the Top 20 hits “Do You Sleep?” (1995) and “I Do” (1997). Loeb has also released two albums that have been certified gold: Tails (in 1995) and Firecracker (1997). Her other adult-focused albums include Cake and Pie, Hello Lisa, The Way It Really Is and No Fairy Tale.
In 2003, Loeb launched her additional career as a children’s music artist. She has released the following children’s albums: Catch the Moon, Camp Lisa, Lisa Loeb’s Silly Sing-Along: The Disappointing Pancake and Other Zany Songs, Lisa Loeb’s Songs For Movin’ And Shakin’: The Air Band Song And Other Toe-Tapping Tunes, Nursery Rhyme Parade! and the Grammy-winning album, Feel What U Feel.
Besides her album releases, Loeb has also written songs for TV shows and films. Also, she’s a businesswoman who has her own eyewear line – the Lisa Loeb Eyewear Collection (Loeb is known for wearing distinctive glasses).
Here’s the video of Lisa Loeb’s new song, “Skeleton.”
Here’s our interview with Lisa Loeb:
DK: I like your new album, A Simple Trick To Happiness. Can you talk about the making of this album?
Lisa Loeb: I would say this is one of the more personal records that I’ve made, and I had a different approach this time. Normally, I would collect songs over a period of time and when I got up to 12 or 15 songs, I’d make a record. [But] for this record I really had a focus, and so I sat down with my collaborators and specifically wrote for this album. [By doing it this way], I think it really captured more where I am at this moment.
DK: Your new album is titled A Simple Trick to Happiness. What was your inspiration for that title?
Loeb: Well, I think it’s a little bit tongue-in-cheek, because I think we’re all looking for those simple tricks to make life better all the time. On the other hand, it’s kind of alluring. You know, we look to the internet and see things, where it tells you you’re gonna find this some kind of secret, whether it’s in a magazine article or [another source]. So you’re always leaning in, trying to figure out, what is the secret. So I wanted to lure people in. But I do think this record also has a kind of wisdom…things that I have experienced, things that I’ve learned and gathered over the years.
In my work as a musician, I have a lot of opportunities to interact with people, whether it’s after my shows, or whether it’s sitting next to somebody on an airplane, or talking to somebody like you who’s interviewing me. I end up getting to tell my stories and hear other people’s stories, even as I drop my kids off at school and talk to other parents. There’s certain stories or situations I’ll talk about with other people, and they’re blown away. They’ll say, “Oh I never thought about it that way.” So seeing each other’s perspectives—talking about your experiences and what you learn, in big and small things, seems to really resonate. I think people really connect on those things. So because of that, I wanted the album to have that focus, to talk about things that to one person might be second nature, but to another person might be a mind-blowing concept. We need some inspiration and instigation in our life.
DK: I like your new song “Sing Out,” which I read that you wrote for a Nashville Pride event.
Here’s the video of Lisa Loeb’s #1 hit, “Stay (I Missed You).”
Loeb: Yes, “Sing Out” is one of the only songs that was written in advance, because I wrote it for a Nashville Pride event. Specifically, this song was written for the LGBTQ community, but it’s truly for all people. It’s a song about encouraging people…to celebrate yourself, and feel comfortable to be yourself.
DK: I read your album credits, and it says that you wrote & produced the album with Rich Jacques. Can you talk about your collaboration with him?
Loeb: We’ve been working together for 5 or 6 years. We’ve made three family-friendly records, one which won a Grammy. We made this grown-up record (the new album), and we make music for TV together. I really enjoy working with Rich; we work well together and he’s been a great collaborator. We listen a lot to each other, and we challenge and push each other. He also has a good sense of sonic landscapes and elements of production that take me to different places than what I might normally do. So for example, there’s a lot more piano on the record [instead of being] all acoustic guitar-centered.
DK: I looked at the writing credits on your early albums, and I was impressed that you wrote almost all the songs by yourself. Currently, do you still write songs on your own, or do you prefer to co-write?
Loeb: The majority of the songs I write lately are collaborations. I do write some songs by myself for particular projects. But I find that when I collaborate with others, I learned that I sometimes focus more, that I’m able to tell a story in a way that listeners can understand it more readily. And when I collaborate with really great, expert songwriters, we’re still able to capture that abstract and poetic element that you get from writing by yourself. Also, just in a practical way, I’m a mom of two children…my daughter’s 10 and my son is 7. And when you juggle a lot of things including touring, making videos, doing voiceovers, taking care of my kids…there are many things on my plate. And so I find that collaboration is a real focus, and I love the community of it, and I like the results.
DK: In 2018 you won a Grammy Award for Best Children’s Album for your album, Feel What U Feel. What inspired you to get into the children’s music field?
Here’s the video of Lisa Loeb’s lullaby, “You Can Count on Me,”
from her children’s album, Feel What U Feel.
Loeb: Well, I started because I was really nostalgic about my childhood, and I wanted to make entertainment that reminded me of what I loved when I was a kid. There were a lot of things going on in the 1970s, from variety shows like Carol Burnett and Donny & Marie, to comedians like Steve Martin. And there was entertainment specifically geared towards kids like early Sesame Street. There was a lot of storytelling, with high quality production values, with great acting, writing, production and music, and I wanted to do that. So I started making kids music. I wanted to share my summer camp songs with people, because that’s another area of music that I loved. I sang those songs when I was 3 years old, and when I was a teenager, and I sing those songs today. There’s a lot of variety within this genre—things can be really heartfelt or silly…it just suited me well. Then after I had kids, I also started playing more concerts for kids.
Over the past 15 years, I’ve done three children’s albums exclusively with Amazon, two albums that illustrated kids books, and an album exclusively for Barnes & Noble which is about teens.
DK: I wanted to ask you about your biggest hit, “Stay (I Missed You).” Was that song written for the Reality Bites movie soundtrack?
Loeb: No it wasn’t. It was written about two years before Reality Bites came out. It was a song that I wrote about a really personal experience…about an argument with a boyfriend. [Usually] I like to create things and mask my own experiences, and craft them into more mysterious things, or things outside of myself. But this song was really a personal one.
I wrote that song based on a guitar lick. It was important to me to write kind of complicated guitar licks and sing over them. Also, I was trying to write for Daryl Hall at the time, because I heard he needed a song for his solo album. My first inspiration musically for it was Daryl Hall and the R&B songs that he wrote like “Sara Smile.” So that was my influence for the music, which gave it a great groove that people could connect to. And the structure is very unusual; there’s no real chorus. But I’m glad that song became popular, because that is one of my favorite ways to write. I really tried to purposefully do something structurally different that you don’t expect.
Here’s a video of Lisa Loeb performing her song, “Lullaby Girl.”
DK: How did you place the song in the movie, Reality Bites?
Loeb: I knew Ethan Hawke (who starred in the movie); he was a friend and a collaborator. I used to write music for this theatre company. Ethan heard and liked it, and he wanted to pass it along to Ben Stiller (who directed the film). He thought it would work well in the movie, so he asked me for a copy of the song, which I had just recorded in New York. There was a whole bunch of people (director, producer, writer) who were involved in the movie, and they believed the song would work well. So they ended up using it in the end credits, and we gave them rights to promote it as a single. It ended up going to number one, which was really exciting. And it gave me so much freedom after that, because I’m somebody who is very strong-headed when it comes to my songwriting and production and my videos. Because that song had so much success, and it went down so independently, without the influence of a major record label, it tends to give me a lot of freedom. People would say, “Oh, you know what you’re doing”…when you do it yourself and have a lot of success.
DK: I visited your site and read that you’ll be playing a few shows soon. Will you be going on tour later this year?
Loeb: Yes, I’m always touring. You know, I’m a weekend warrior—I do two shows here and three shows there. Because I have my kids, I try to tour strategically. So it might not be long tours, but if you check the site frequently, you’ll see that I’m playing different events and in-stores and all kinds of things. I’ve got a great relationship with my fans and people who follow me on social media, so I’m able to communicate easily and let people know what’s going on and where. I even like to take requests from people; I would ask, “Where do you live and what’s a good place to play there?’ I like to play a lot of small theaters [and places with] great listening rooms.