Lisa Mitchell has never been one to take the obvious route.
The Australian singer-songwriter is back in the groove after taking time out to travel and work on a bio-dynamic vegetable farm. The experience of getting her hands dirty on the Victorian site proved to be a creatively fertile one. She’ll take an earthy vibe into sessions for her third album, due in mid-2015.
The first track from it, “Wah Ha,” is traveling fast. Produced by Lisa and Tim Harvey (of Hot Little Hands) and mixed by Eric J (Chet Faker, Flume), the song has enjoyed support in the U.K. from Jo Whiley (BBC Radio 2) and Lauren Laverne (BBC 6). In the U.S., where Lisa has never played, “Wah Ha” has had four spins on Jason Bentley’s KCRW show in the past week. She’ll perform the song and a cover on Australia’s Triple J network this Friday.
“Despite its dreamy-ness, this is actually a bit of an ‘Ah, f–k it!’ song,” Mitchell tells Billboard. “I find it hard to be in my shadowy moods, I feel like I have to hide away and not let anyone see me, but lately I’ve been experimenting with owning them. I don’t want to be the vibe-kill, I just want to be honest and let go of the fear of being judged as ‘crazy’ or ‘depressed’.”
After a few years “sippin’ good coffee” in Australia, Paris and London, and following her stint working on the farm, Lisa admits she “got a bit obsessed” with bossa-nova style guitar before deciding the time was ripe to record some new music. Once pigeonholed by reporters as a “folk singer”, Lisa has drawn some of that new obsession into “Wah Ha.” Expect more of this spirit of experimentation across the upcoming set. “I’m so excited about making this new album. I can’t even begin to explain what it will sound like, that would be like me trying to guess the color everything was before the Big Bang,” she quips.
Lisa is working her new material from London, where she’ll play a pair of intimate live dates in November. Both shows, in support of the Nov. 10 official U.K. release of “Wah Ha,” are sold out (the song was digitally released Oct. 21 in Australia). Rough Trade Notting Hill will host an in-store on Nov. 15 before she heads to L.A. for a stopover.
Mitchell made the unlikely leap early in her career from a TV talent show contestant to an award-winning critics’ favorite. It’s been eight years since her appearance in the 2006 series of Australian Idol (she progressed to the final six before being eliminated). Her debut album Wonder took out the 2010 Australian Music Prize, a contest modeled on Britain’s Mercury Prize which recognizes homegrown albums on artistic excellence, rather than chart success or commercial sales.
Wonder did enjoy a slice of commercial success. The record debuted and peaked at No. 6 on the ARIA albums chart, and spent 51 weeks on the top 100. A hattrick of ARIA Award nominations followed. Her second album, Bless This Mess, debuted and peaked at No. 7 in 2012.
Lisa’s reps are finalizing publishing discussions. On the recording side, she’s available for ROW (she’s signed to Warner Music for Australia and New Zealand).