Lisa Mitchell’s music consistently elicits an emotional response. Her artful storytelling awakens long-forgotten memories, engulfing listeners in wistful nostalgia. Melodies communicate directly with the soul and seem to have always existed, even when absorbed for the very first time. But it’s Lisa’s pure, tender vocal that remains the focal point of her songs; suspending in the atmosphere like a delicious scent.
Lisa’s Platinum-certified debut album ‘Wonder’ (2009) peaked at #6 on the ARIA Albums Chart and was awarded the prestigious Australian Music Prize. Impressively, all three of Lisa’s albums to date have landed in the Top 10 of the ARIA Albums Chart, with 2012’s ‘Bless This Mess’ coming in at #7 and 2016’s ‘Warriors’ peaking at #9.
When Lisa’s enchanting single ‘Neopolitan Dreams’ – which appears on her second EP (2008’s ‘Welcome To The Afternoon’) as well as ‘Wonder’ – secured multiple sync placements across Europe and the UK, Lisa’s debut album gained traction worldwide and her star continued to rise internationally. Lisa fulfilled a lifelong dream when she was booked to play Glastonbury 2009. Hitting the stage before a packed crowd, which spilled from one the festival’s giant undercover marquees, remains a career highlight for Lisa to this day. “It felt amazing!” she extols. “It was quite surreal.”
Performing at festivals in glorious outdoor settings, and feeling connected with nature, is Lisa’s happy place. “When I was on stage at Woodford Folk Festival, looking out at that natural amphitheater with forests behind the audience – that was a ‘wow’ moment for me,” she reminisces. And Lisa has also shared stages with Australian music royalty, joining Neil Finn (Crowded House, Fleetwood Mac) and Paul Kelly’s combined ‘Goin’ Your Way’ tour as main support.
A self-described introvert, Lisa was initially attracted to songwriting as a way of processing emotions while documenting snapshots of her life. “It’s one thing to write in your journal, but to have a medium that allows you to share your inner self in this way? I just love that,” she reveals. With music as her creative outlet, Lisa finds she’s able to navigate life from “a more heart-centred place”.
Born in Canterbury, England, Lisa moved to Australia when she was three and grew up on a farm near Albury. After taking guitar lessons aged 12, she formed an all-girl punk band in her early teens while obsessed with The Donnas, Ramones, The Dandy Warhols and Gwen Stefani (“we used to cover all of her songs”).
Lisa’s parents favoured country and folk music, with a particular fondness for Celtic-influenced singers. The songs of Cat Stevens also soundtracked her childhood and when Lisa encountered the artist now known as Yusuf Islam during one songwriting session during the formative years of her music career, which were spent in the UK, she had to pinch herself (“I made Cat Stevens a cup of tea in a songwriting room in London!”). Around this time, Lisa also discovered another classic British folk artist, Vashti Bunyan, admitting, “I’m very influenced by her”.
As an artist with her own distinctive musical identity, Lisa composes transportive vignettes that consistently capture the imagination: the understated-yet-nuanced arrangement of ‘Coin Laundry’ is charming beyond belief; ‘Spiritus’ is an exultant celebration of humanity, built from an effervescent piano riff; and the glistening, synth-pop of ‘The Boys’ shimmers like sun glitter. More recently, Lisa’s stripped-back acoustic take on Phantom Planet’s ‘California’ – from 2017’s ‘When They Play That Song’ EP (of ’90s covers) – has attracted 23 million Spotify streams and counting.
Having left high school when her music career started taking off, Lisa has since returned to study and is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Arts degree at Melbourne University. And Lisa admits her tertiary studies have informed the themes she explores on her forthcoming album, ‘A Place To Fall Apart’.
This year’s global pandemic may have pressed pause on proceedings, but Lisa’s upcoming fourth record is now well underway. After enduring Melbourne’s marathon lockdown, Lisa was finally able to return to the studio and rehearse in the same room as her band – bassist Jessie L. Warren (Hachiku, Half/Cut) and drummer Kishore Ryan (Otouto, Kid Sam, Hexham) – and found this experience revitalising. She chose to embrace “a really collective arrangement process” for the first time on ‘A Place To Fall Apart’ and Lisa also promises uilleann pipes (Irish bagpipes) will feature throughout. Just add Tom Iansek (Big Scary, #1 Dads) on production duty and this album’s release date can’t come soon enough.