MIA ROSA Spotlight On
Classically Trained Musician & Singer/Songwriter
Elizabeth Anne Mall is a 24-year-old musical artist from San Francisco (by way of Kansas) who writes her own songs, plays piano and cello, sings, and even engineers her recordings. She’s classically-trained as both a cellist and pianist and teaches both instruments when she’s not recording or performing.
Elizabeth had a unique childhood growing up on a farm in Kansas. Her father is a guitar-playing farmer and her mother has a doctorate in cello performance. Together, her parents had a profound effect on her music sensibilities.
Elizabeth’s husband is an Air Force pilot stationed at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield near San Francisco. Their experience with the military, including times apart during his deployments, has inspired many of Elizabeth’s song lyrics.
MIA ROSA caught up with EAM this week, just as her new CD, Belle Laide, was being released. The music is a wonderful mixture of passionate, reflective ballads and upbeat, danceable pop anthems. If you live in the Bay Area, you may be able to catch her live act at a local club.
- How did your new CD come about?
About two years ago I released a song on the internet called “Wounds.” Grammy award-winning producer Rob Chiarelli noticed it and loved it, so he contacted me. We began working together on various songwriting projects, and he signed me to his new label StreetLamp records. We decided to start working on my first album, and “Belle Laide” was born!”
- How do you craft a song? What is the process like and where does the inspiration come from?
For me, it usually starts with a feeling, or a single word or phrase. I often like to have some of the music created, even if it’s just a verse of a piano arrangement, before starting to write a melody with lyrics on top of it. I like letting the music set the mood before I ever say a word. After that, there are certain parameters I adhere to for good songwriting; like sticking to a certain time frame for the chorus to come in or where a beat should drop.So there’s a bit of a science to it. But there’s also this beautiful exploration that goes with creating a story through the marriage of words and music. It reminds me a little of painting, because you do layer upon layer of instruments and words and ideas, and eventually something beautiful appears.
- Do you prefer live performances or writing and recording? And why?
I first and foremost love songwriting; it’s definitely my first passion. It’s so therapeutic for me, and I get recharged from it. Performing is fun for me, too. But when I perform I want to connect so much with those around me through my music, and in that way I sometimes need to recharge afterwards. Perhaps that’s why writing and performing are such a good mix. I recharge at home in the studio and then go out and share that love with everyone else!
- How does one go about marketing a CD these days? (Elizabeth – you told me about the plan to try and market some songs for commercials and film, can you elaborate on that?)
We are especially pitching for film and TV at this point. Lots of people in the industry are looking for the perfect song for a particular commercial or movie, so we are able to present songs that could possibly be chosen.
- Any tour plans? Where can fans come see you perform?
I will be performing in the Bay Area for a while. I love the smaller, hip venues that I can book as a single solo artist on piano. I also plan to collaborate with other artists and include some electronic elements in my performances.
- Who was your biggest musical influence?
I looked up to my parents so much growing up and they both influenced me a lot musically. My dad is a farmer who played country music on his guitar. I grew up with a little country twang in my voice, crooning along with him at church and country music festivals. My mom has her doctorate in cello performance, so I learned classical music sensibilities (and cello) from her.
- Was there anyone you looked up to as you were getting started in music? A mentor or someone in the public eye who inspired you?
I have always been inspired by particular songs more than artists. I am especially intrigued with songs that are able to make people feel things they haven’t felt before. I love sacred and secular themes mixed into songs, because I think all beautiful things, all life really, is a mix of both. So some of my favorites include “Hallelujah,” by Leonard Cohen, “Sixteen Tons” by Tenessee Ernie Ford, and “Radioactive” and “Demons” by Imagine Dragons.
- Is there a life, or “aha” moment, that stands out in your mind?
There was one particular concert I went to where it drove me crazy that I was on the audience side of the stage! I don’t even remember the band’s name, but I remember the strong desire to be up there making something beautiful to share with the world. It was driving me nuts! That inspired me to study music in college and to really pursue making a career out of it.
- What advice would you give to aspiring singer/songwriters and musicians wanting to break into the business?
You have to work really hard, so if you don’t enjoy the process, it’s probably not for you. But if you really do have a love for your art, fight for it! Fight for it to be a career and a defining part of your life, because most people don’t get that. For years I’d been writing and recording on my own before I ever got noticed in the industry. What kept me going with a strong drive was a love for it though.I would also say to expect rejection, but don’t get too down by it. Lots of times I didn’t make auditions or didn’t get songs noticed by industry professionals. I would get discouraged, but would try to figure out from the feedback where improvement was needed. And I kept trying. When I finally was noticed it was by a world-renowned Grammy winning producer! All the “no’s” don’t matter anymore; what matters is the one “yes” Rob gave me.
- How do you like to relax when you’re not working?
I take time every day to reconnect with God and myself. I pray, read and meditate. Even if just for a little bit, it helps keep me focused on what matters in the big scheme of things. I also love to run and to generally be outside. Nature has always moved me. I love spending time one-on-one with my husband, my family, and our friends.