Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Lisa Loeb started her career with the platinum-selling Number One hit song “Stay (I Missed You)” from the film “Reality Bites.” To this day, she is still the only artist to have a Number One single while not signed to a recording contract, a remarkable and unparalleled feat for an unsigned artist, though perhaps not a surprising one for the Brown grad girl with the cat-eye glasses, who at the time was already making her mark in New York’s burgeoning singer-songwriter scene.
The story of Loeb’s early success is well known. A native of Dallas, Texas, Loeb earned her degree in comparative literature from Brown University, where she experienced her first taste of real musical success with the duo, Liz and Lisa. The pair built a substantial following on campus and often booked shows in New York on the weekends. Fellow singer/songwriter Duncan Sheik also played in the band during Lisa’s final year of college. When Loeb moved to New York City after graduation, she continued to develop her vision, this time as a solo artist, and hone her artistic talents while carefully managing the business side of her career. This led to “Reality Bites” and “Stay” in 1994, and the rest, as we say, is history.
The fact that “Stay” became a Number One single in 1994 and still resonates with people today is a testament to Loeb’s gift as a songwriter and storyteller. Loeb has successfully parlayed her talents into a multi-dimensional career encompassing music, film, television, voice-over work and children’s recordings. Her acclaimed studio CDs include her major label debut, the Gold-selling Tails and its follow-up, the Grammy-nominated, Gold-selling Firecracker. In 2002, Loeb distributed the album Cake and Pie through Interscope Records and the record was later re-released, complete with additional tracks, as Hello Lisa. She reunited with her college music partner Elizabeth Mitchell on the award-winning children’s CD and companion book Catch The Moon in 2003 and released another solo album titled The Way It Really Is on Zoe/Rounder in 2004. The Very Best of Lisa Loeb was released through Universal in 2006, and during that year she captivated the hearts of a younger audience with three stellar children’s videos “Catch The Moon,” “Stop and Go” and “Jenny Jenkins” from Catch The Moon. In January 2008, Loeb released the long-awaited CD version of Purple Tape, an acoustic guitar and vocals album from her early New York days.
Lisa Loeb’s foray into acting began in 1997 with cameos in television shows such as “The Nanny” and “Cupid.” She has since continued to perform and add additional television credits to her ever-expanding repertoire, including appearances on “The Drew Carey Show,” “The Chris Isaak Show” and “Gossip Girl.” In 2004, Loeb starred in the first of two television series, “Dweezil and Lisa,” a weekly culinary adventure for Food Network. Her second show, No. 1 Single, appeared on E! Entertainment Network in 2006 and featured Lisa’s inspiring journey to find love.
The aspiring artist starred in her first feature film role, opposite Oscar-winning actor Geoffrey Rush, in the movie “House on Haunted Hill” in 1999. In 2011, she added to her big-screen credentials with a small role in the horror re-make “Fright Night.”
The acclaimed artist has also gained recognition for her voice-over talent by appearing in several animated television shows and video games. In 2003 Loeb gave voice to Spiderman’s gal pal Mary Jane in MTV’s animated series Spider-Man. She also appeared as the voice of Milli the Microphone on the animated Disney show Doc McStuffins in 2011 and is currently the voice of Princess Winger on the animated series Jake and the Never Land Pirates that appears on Disney Junior.
In 2008, Lisa also took her talents to the non-profit sector to launch The Camp Lisa Foundation, to help raise funds to send kids to camp. She enlisted her musician pals such as Kay Hanley, Jill Sobule, Nina Gordon and funnyman Steve Martin to record a companion cd, Camp Lisa, and released it via partnership with Barnes and Noble, with the proceeds all going to charity.
Continuing her passion for children’s music, Loeb releasing her first children’s book, Lisa Loeb’s Silly Sing-Along: The Disappointing Pancake and Other Zany Songs, in October 2011. Known for her wit, wacky humor and creativity, the children’s songbook that featured a CD included four original silly songs plus six all-time kids’ favorites.
Lisa Loeb’s highly anticipated return to the pop/rock world after immersing herself in other projects may be called No Fairy Tale (2013), but it’s actually another charmed chapter of her storybook-like career which began in the mid-‘90s. The multi-talented singer/songwriter, inspired to work with co-producer Chad Gilbert, guitarist and founding member of rockers New Found Glory, stirs up a glorious pop/punk rock sound over the course of twelve tracks that are both coolly contemporary yet rough around the edges on her new musical declaration No Fairy Tale.
A longtime fan, Gilbert emailed Lisa with his idea for a collaborative project. Loeb and Gilbert first worked together when he asked her to sing on his band’s punky version of “Stay” on their film songs cover album From The Screen to Your Stereo Part II in 2007. In 2009, Loeb joined New Found Glory onstage at the Nokia Theatre (now the Best Buy Center) in Times Square for a live performance of the song. Gilbert had received an email alert about a stop on her book tour for the Lisa Loeb’s Silly Sing-Along: The Disappointing Pancake and other Zany Songs book/CD project. “I got the crazy idea to email her to say, ‘I know you do these kid books, but when are you going to let me produce a full-on modern Indie pop/rock record for you. You haven’t done one in a while.”
Loeb recalls that Gilbert’s email included the phrase “poppy-punky-rock album,” a concept she was immediately receptive to. He also felt that a recent influx of female fronted groups like Canadian duo Tegan and Sara - whom New Found Glory had toured with - made the time right for the singer to record a raucous, upbeat album with a fresh perspective that would, in his words, “make her sound like it was her first recording ever.” Gilbert adds, “Besides, she’s a character, and her voice has always been so cool and unique. There are a lot of great artists out there, but no one sounds like Lisa.”
Loeb agreed that the timing was ideal. “When he mentioned Tegan and Sara, it seemed perfect as I was very inspired by them and actually listened to their music while writing a lot of recent songs. It’s funny that Chad and I have always gotten along so well. He’s a tattoo-ed up post-punk rocker and I’m known more as a singer/songwriter with glasses, which may seem like an unlikely pair, but it totally makes sense. He brought a whole new angle to my music and it was great to work with many of the musicians he works with down in Orange County (California), as well as Joe Marro and Forrest Kline from the pop-punk band Hello Goodbye, who he enlisted to play keyboards.” With the addition of veteran mix engineer Brad Wood, whose credits include Smashing Pumpkins, Liz Phair and Pete Yorn, the sound of No Fairy Tale soon melded into the perfect balance of Loeb’s past “professional largeness” with the “not perfect but edgy” style she and Gilbert created.
Though she had been concentrating more in recent years on children’s projects and other media endeavors, Loeb brought a cool arsenal of strong new material to her first meetings with Gilbert at her house. Eight previously written Loeb tunes were ultimately chosen for No Fairy Tale. She penned the high energy power-pop title track opener with fellow songwriter Maia Sharp, about navigating the waters of imperfect love - about how living in a real way with the ups and downs of life is better than living a perfect fairy tale life. “Weak Day,” a heartfelt ballad about living through a tough emotional time, was originally written for the acoustic record Loeb was working on. “Sick Sick Sick” has a rollercoaster of rhythmic mood swings throughout that reflects the crazy and unpredictable dysfunction in an oddly co-dependent family. Taking a more optimistic tack, Loeb infuses a playful pop/rock energy into “Swept Away,” a story about a fallen star looking to escape after a downfall. Her ultimate advice: it pays to keep trying. Loeb employs some talk-sing amidst her soaring harmony-laden vocals on “He Loved You So Much,” a song about just who is doing the breaking up.
No Fairy Tale is rounded out with Loeb collaborating with other artists. These include the explosive new wave scorcher “Matches” (with Morgan Taylor); the raw garage rocker “Married” (with Chuck Wolverton), about the foolishness of being the other woman to a broken man in a bad marriage; and the stripped down, folky sad song “Ami, I’m Sorry,” which she wrote with Marvin Etzioni. Loeb and Gilbert wrote another of No Fairy Tale’s key tracks, the ‘80s new wave pop flavored “Walls,” which Loeb says was like “channeling Patty Smyth and a Molly Ringwald movie” at the same time.”
Loeb’s introduction to Tegan and Sara resulted in her choice to include for the first time ever songs fully penned by an outside writer on one of her solo recordings. Tegan and Sara Quin’s fiery rocker “A Hot Minute” (an emotionally charged “in love and stalking” song) and the encouraging closer “The Worst” (about the way the ugly trials we’ve been through can comfort us down the road) fit Loeb and Gilbert’s overall aesthetic perfectly. Both tracks feature Tegan on harmony.
“To be honest,” says Tegan, “I had no idea that Lisa would ever consider recording songs that anyone else had written. I was overjoyed, over the moon, ecstatic and crazed when I heard she was going to cut a few songs of mine. I grew up a huge fan and remain a huge fan of everything. After meeting her I was an even bigger fan. She is so smart and confident. I was just so impressed by her work ethic, her presence and her ability as a writer and singer. I really related to a lot of her stories. It’s not a stretch that something that happened to me could have happened to her. For me, it’s nice after fifteen years, to feel a renewed joy and sense of adventure when it comes to writing.”
No single track on No Fairy Tale captures the driving aesthetic of the album like “The ‘90s,” a raw, stomping, tongue in cheek blister-rocker (penned by Loeb and Gilbert) that includes direct references to making the video for “Stay” - including wanting to make her Betsey Johnson dress shorter and asking shoe designer John Fluevog to “make my platforms a little higher.” “I’m usually more abstract as a songwriter,” she says, “but it was fun writing a story that was more direct and pretty literal about the time.”
Today, Loeb continues to grow as an artist and to push herself and her career forward with a creative zeal and an inner drive not often seen. While becoming a mom of two, she is also in the process of releasing a new eyewear line, in partnership with Classique Eyewear, Lisa Loeb Eyewear, and her second children’s book “Lisa Loeb’s Songs for Moving and Shaking” out in April 2013. Forever the fearless performer, Lisa Loeb is constantly exploring her creativity and telling original stories, whether by writing a book, producing a TV show, or continuing to develop her acting career.