[Originally posted on November 2008]
Lizzi is an artist, performer and musician playing with the Gang Gang Dance and I.U.D. bands, but she prefers to call herself a worker. Recently she’s been working for an Art Basel show managed by Nate Lowman and Shamim of the Whitney Biennal and has released the new GGD album “Saint Dymphna” for Warp Records.
Could you please tell us more about your background? Was it always your dream to pursue a career as a musician and artist?
Hmm no, music kind of fell in my lap. I was doing spoken word performances in college… then when I moved to New York some guys asked me if I would sing for them if they gave me a drum kit. I said yes. The art was always a dream. I live in a bubbled reality and I need to release my views whether people need to see it I don’t know but I need to get it out for my sanity. It’s nice to have a laugh with other people about it.
You’re practice is multifaceted and includes writing, music, performance, sculpture, installations and so on: have you got any heroes or people that have inspired your work?
My heroes are my band mates. Art wise I quite enjoy Carol Rama, Patti Smith, Ludus, Oliver Payne and Nick Relph, Agathe Snow, Brian Degraw, Vito Acconci’s early performances, Karen Finlay, Kippenberger, Black Lodge, Rob Pruitt and Jonathan Horowitz, Chris Cunningham, Harmony Korine, Pierpaolo Pasolini, Dylan Thomas, Pablo Neruda, Rita Ackermann, Cronenberg, Werner Herzog, Pere Ubu, Laibach, Crass, Morrissey, Pygmie Music, Lil Wayne…I mean really the list is almost endless, I am a tough critic though. I think that is because I feel I work so hard and take my profession very seriously.
Is it the same flow that guides you in music and art as well or do you prefer to keep them separated? Why?
Lately they are from the same thread. I pick up pieces for my art when I travel with my band. My piece “Braces” is a product of going to Istanbul. Really it’s about being free, isn’t it? I try to keep my mind very open and positive. But lately with the election I get quite depressed about how ignorant and un-educated our country is.
How do you find working in New York City? Can you tell us a bit about what’s life there like?
NY gives me my riddim. You can get away with a lot of things here and I like that. I feel equated with every human being and people respect each other. It’s whacked out… it’s funny. Things that happen are scandalous, like a guy dancing naked streaking in the window. I once saw a naked man carrying a shopping bag from the grocery store. I think it was the same guy actually. You don’t get that shit in Salt Lake City Utah? But you do get steam baths… now that’s a plus huh.
Are there any places you’d definitely recommend to any girl visiting the city?
Opening Ceremony has a great selection of clothes same as Seven. Small businesses need help so go there before Macy’s, people. Barney’s is pretty cool though. And Century 21 a total must for the ladies, good underwear and cheap!
I like the theatre… goes, see music but not too much. A little of anything can ruin your fervour for appreciation. I love Bacarro. It’s a great wine bar in Chinatown. If you want to see a castle and feel warmth and intimacy, this is your place. Saint Dymphna’s is great for a pint and some veggie sausages!
You’re a member of both Gang Gang Dance and I.U.D.: how did this project come about? What moments of inspiration made you want to start these bands?
Gang Gang is kind of a long story but basically I was asked to play the artist, art dealer and downtown muse at Pat Hearn’s memorial. She was very dear to me and was the first person that told me she liked my art. She was in a band or outfit in NYC with a guy from the Lounge Lizards. The music was lounge, jazzy, sounded like Ludus, one of my favourite bands of all time. So I asked Josh Diamond, BDG and Tim to play her songs with me and I would sing the lyrics. They wanted a new singer at the time… the rest is history. I.U.D. was different. I vowed to not start another band because I barely had any time with Gang Gang. But I did the airplane test. On the way back from our first Japanese tour I was thinking… I really want to bring more drums to Gang Gang and get really good at playing a full kit just for myself really. As a workout actually. Release. Now I’m not sure I got good but I heard Sadie was drumming a lot too. She was an old friend that just moved back to NY so I asked her if she wanted to play with me and it’s just too fun to stop. I mean Gang Gang is my biggest supporters. They even make me bring her on our tours now just to have her around. Lucky for me. We also played at Brian’s art show opening in Poitiers recently. So Sadie changed her ticket and stayed on the tour. Lucky for me again!
What about the new Gang Gang Dance album “Saint Dymphna”? Have you suffered for any kind of pressure in recording it?
I love the new album. I’m proud of it and I feel it will help us get to a better place because we are reaching more people. I don’t have any comfort half the time in life, financial, health-wise, I don’t even own a home and I can barely rent my apartment, sometimes I think all that matters is that Gang Gang can make music. And we do and to be respected for that outweighs the other things. Pressure… yeah, on ourselves really. Finishing “Saint Dymphna” has been a joy. Now we can make the next album.
What are your favourite fanzines and magazines?
British Vogue, W, Harper’s Bazaar, Tokion is usually interesting. Magazines are crap, really, but I like to keep informed on products and styles, ahaha, fanzines are great!
What was the best exhibition experience you had? Why?
My shows with Colin Deland and American Fine Arts were really fun, working with Colin in general, but there were quite a pain in the ass, so I’d say my last show at James Fuentes gallery was my best.
Have the art and music communities changed in New York?
Every 10 years there’s a new breed of “it” artists. It’s tiresome and boring but I’m glad people can make a living, I guess.
Who is the woman you’d like to see featured/interviewed here?
Marcella Mullins. She’s a creative gem.
Is there anything in particular you would like us to mention?
There’s no time for anger, so get over it. Peace.