Amadeus award-nominated singer, songwriter, producer, DJ and actress Sissi was formerly frontlady of postpunk-inspired band Ladyfuzz, when she was known as Liz Neumayr. Here, the producer and host of music TV shows ‘Slo-Fi’ and ‘SiSSilicious’ asks herself a few questions.
Where are you now?
I’ve been living in LA for a few years. After I left London I was a bit of a digital nomad living between Vienna, Berlin, LA and occasionally London. But now I am settled in LA and loving it. You just can’t beat the weather now, can you.
What are you up to?
For a while I have been working more in the background writing songs for films and working as a music supervisor. But this summer I finally put a new live band together, under the name SiSSi, and we just played our first shows in LA. It was so amazing to get back on the stage.
So I am developing SiSSi right now. But at the same time I am writing with a bunch of different producers and songwriters for potential side projects and other artists. One of them is a much darker down-tempo project taking me back to my pre-Ladyfuzz roots. At this point, I’m really enjoying the freedom of playing around with different styles of music. I am in a phase of throwing everything against the wall and let’s see what sticks.
I have also just joined my friend’s band as a musical director, instrumentalist and singer, which is so much fun. It’s the first time since being a young teenager that I am in a project that is not based around me or I am the front woman of and it is fantastic. You just get to roll up and play your parts and do all the fun stuff without any of the pressures that come with getting your own solo project of the ground. I love it!
How has your music developed since Ladyfuzz?
It’s funny, cause my music has gone through so many different stages but there has been this interest in Ladyfuzz music of late for some reason. It feels like it’s come back round again. I just had a session last night with a new writing team and they really loved the Ladyfuzz stuff. So we ended up writing a song that was inspired by that energy.
But I have gone through a set of different phases musically. First, right after Ladyfuzz split, which was caused by an awful romantic breakup, I had to get it all out of my system and wrote songs that my music lawyer at the time thought a tad harsh. So I moved on to my epic pop phase for which I recruited a pop choir back in London.
The vision was to combine orchestral with tribal drumming and the rest of the instruments basically being replaced with vocals. So for live it was me fronting a choir of eight singers. Unfortunately, that project was short-lived, due to me leaving London. But I am contemplating getting a new choir together here in LA.
But I’ve realized no matter what style of songs I write, they are always very hooky, will haunt you for days on end and can be very fun, albeit always being based on serious topics or heartaches. I guess they call that subversion of pop. People have compared them to Robyn and Florence and the Machine, although I do hope to be carving out my own kind of pop.
Do you miss London?
You know what I miss most about London? It’s the people: their sense of humor, the banter. I love the UK banter. And obviously my friends. Having been in LA for a while I realise that London, and Europe in general, are a lot more straightforward, to the point and honest with their feelings. And that I do miss, along with UK fashion sense and, of course, the UK music scene. Obviously, you can get anything anywhere these days and there’s a exciting and buzzing music scene with amazing artists here in LA. But I would love that feeling of being in the midst of the most gritty and groundbreaking music just rearing its head that I’m used to getting in London. I feel it’s all more polished here and mostly about money which is not bad just different. But perhaps it’s also about me being at a different stage in my life. Anyway, I can’t wait to get back to London sometime soon, hopefully early next year.
Who are your favorite LA artists at the moment?
There are many, but I really like LP’s music, that song ‘Lost on You’ does something to my insides as soon as it comes on, I can’t put it in words. But it makes me happy. And LP’s fiancé Lauren Ruth Ward is just as amazing. She is like the new Janis Joplin. Moses Sumney is another incredible LA artist. I met him a couple of years back at Coachella, just hanging out. And it’s only recently that I checked out his music properly and I was blown away. That voice, those lyrics. #love!
What made you move to LA?
Well, the obvious reason is the sunshine! After all these years in the London rain I felt I deserved it. But it’s more than craving the warmth and space. LA just has everything. From the beach to the mountains to the desert. And I am a sucker for nature, for feeling the sun and the sand on my skin and never having to wear proper shoes. You are constantly surrounded by this astounding wilderness and you never know when a mountain lion or a coyote might appear in front of you. It’s just magical to be living in what feels like a tropical island while at the same being at the core of the global entertainment industry. And there is this constant stream of extraordinarily talented people coming to town, working on projects of all kinds that they are hugely passionate about. That energy is just what makes LA so special and magical.
You been recently been writing songs for films. Is that something you wanna keep exploring?
Yes, I love it, I have had lots of songs synched on films, tv show and commercials before but this year I have gone into writing more specifically to a brief and it is amazing seeing the scenes come alive through the music on the big screen. I am also an actress, so obviously I am a huge film fan. And film and music are tied together so closely these days – they are basically inseparable. So, yes, I am definitely looking forward to doing a lot more writing for film and TV, as well.
What are your plans for the next year?
Developing SiSSi and some of the other projects that might stick (see above). I’m gonna release a single, possibly two, before the end of the year. And I am in talks about a new music TV show. But I also really want to delve more into songwriting or co-writing for other artists here in LA. I have been told on multiple occasions that a bunch of my songs could so totally work for Megan Trainor, and I love her. Not sure if she writes all her own songs. But if any of her team reads this: I do have a bunch of songs for her!
What are your aspirations these days, it sounds like they have changed over time?
I have come to the realisation that no matter what I do in life now, the main goal for me is to make sure that it makes me happy. I didn’t consider that much back in London, I just did what I wanted to do or what I felt I was expected to do, not really checking in on how that made me feel. But now I am weighing up the effects of my actions and aspirations on my internal well being a lot more. And, yes, I have my fingers in a lot of pies right now and there are many more things to come, things I want to do, things I want to achieve. And I am very excited about all of it.
But my key goal from now on is to be happy, no matter where life takes me. It is a work in progress. But I am well on my way!