Shout Sister Shout: Miriam Lieberman (IWD 2021)
Approx. 6 minute read
Artists are endlessly curious beings. This is certainly true of Miriam Lieberman. I love the way she describes how she discovered rhythms in everyday objects around her as a child and how her desire to unveil more of the world and its music led her to West Africa. Read on to learn more of the intrepid Miriam Lieberman.
Sonia de Freitas: Hi Miriam, how are you and where does our interview find you today?
Miriam Lieberman: Enjoying a rarely quiet rainy Sunday amidst a crowdfunding campaign to help with the completion of a new all originals album I have in the works.
SdF: Can you tell me about your journey in music? When did you know that you were going to make music your career?
ML: I’ve always loved music and even as a small child remember feeling deeply moved by songs and finding rhythms in everything from the washing machine to my mum’s car indicator. A defining moment in terms of being brave enough to make music my main gig was doing THE WAVE music course as a 19 year old. At was a 3 month music intensive contemporary music course. It was just the push I needed to be brave enough to unashamedly follow music and songwriting as a life path.
SdF: Your album Full Circle brings your unique sonic sensibility to the listener. It is such a well produced collection of your songs. Can you tell me about your creative process when producing this work? Is there anything particular you do that is special to your creative process?
ML: Full Circle was a really enjoyable album to create. I wrote the songs part on guitar and part on kora drawing mostly from personal experience. I then worked on the string arrangements with the talented members of my trio Lara Goodridge and Kate Adams. I was also lucky enough to work with an amazing producer – Josh Schuberth. He came up with the full recorded arrangements and bought out the best in each song.
SdF: Who is your sounding board? There must be someone that you trust to give you brutally honest feedback on your music. How do they fit into the process?
ML: I’m always nervous when I bring new songs to my trio. They are always supportive but will tell me (in a nice way) if one song seems stronger than another or if the song is somehow lacking. I’m lucky to have honest feedback.
SdF: Can you tell me about the relationship you have with your incredible instrument, the kora? Where did you first hear it? What does it mean to you? How has your relationship with it evolved over the years?
ML: It has been a total gift to have been able to add the kora (21 string West African harp) to the pallete of my music. The first time I heard the kora, I was totally enraptured by it. To me, it holds such an ethereal sound. I didn’t actually go to West Africa for the first time with plans to learn it. It was as almost as if the kora found me. I had been learning traditional songs on West African guitar during one of my long stints of living in Conakry – the colourful shanty town capital of Guinea, West Africa. My teacher came from a long line of kora players and put it to me that I should learn the kora. He encouraged me to learn one song. The kora felt imposing with its huge body and long neck and 21 strings but he told me that if I was able to properly learn one song I would play the kora for the rest of my life. So far he is absolutely right!
SdF: You collaborate with other incredible musicians in your trio and visual artists whose vibrant body painting work feature on your albums. How do you approach collaboration?
ML: I’m so fortunate to be surrounded by some incredible people both in music and the arts in general. I am often in awe of the two women in my trio. Lara Goodridge (also co-leader of Baby et Lulu and member of electric string quartet) has a stunning style and attention to detail with her string playing and a beautiful warm voice. Susie Bishop (also a member of Chaika and The Marais Project) is also a beautiful player with a rare combination of great heart and precision in both her violin playing and vocals. For the last two albums and for the upcoming one, I have collaborated with a wonderful Melbourne based body paint artist Lainie Cann who has a beautiful sensibility in being able to apply patterns and colours to my music. It has enhanced the presentation of my work so much to have strong visual themes coming through. I’m also loving a new working relationship with animator Aidan Judd who is doing an outstanding job creating an animated film clip for a new single Inifinite We Are which will be released on the 7th May !
SdF: Have you experienced particular challenges as a female musician? How did you overcome these challenges and what do you think needs to change for others to avoid these challenges in the future?
ML: I’m lucky that in the realms of folk music I feel this particular genre is less dominated by men. That said, I have worked on musical collaborations dominated by men in the past where as a women I felt like I didn’t have the same status nor ability for my opinion to be heard. It was incredibly frustrating.
SdF: So, what’s on the horizon for you? Any projects you’re working on or new releases to share?
ML: I’m so excited to be on the road to completing a new all originals album planned for release at the end of May. I have also been busy working on a crowd funding campaign (which closes before the end of May) that through a series of rewards to the pledgers was set up to help me cover the large costs associated with recording and releasing a new album. You can find out more about the campaign here
SdF: What is your most memorable performance and why?
ML: One of my most memorable performances was performing at a fantastic women’s music festival in Mali, West Africa called La Voix De Femme. I got to support the wonderful blind musician couple Amadou et Mariam and to feel the warm reception of the Bamako local crowd to see an Australian playing music lovingly inspired by West African culture.
SdF: What advice would you give to any aspiring musicians out there?
ML: Follow your heart, find your own sound, never stop learning and just keep going.
To learn more about Miriam Lieberman visit: miriamlieberman.com.au
To buy Miriam Lieberman’s music visit: miriamlieberman.bandcamp.com
To support Miriam Lieberman’s album crowdfunding campaign visit: miriamlieberman_crowdfunding
For more information on International Women’s Day visit: internationalwomensday.com
Keep an eye out for my next interview in the Shout Sister Shout series where I interview Maria Mitar.
Did you miss the previous Shout Sister Shout instalment? Read Maryanne Piper’s interview here.