Name: Lissy Fey
Occupation: Singer, songwriter
Current release: Lissy Fey's debut album Da wo ich herkomm is out now and available via her own webstore.
If you enjoyed this interview with Lissy Fey and would like to find out more, visit her official homepage. Keep up to speed with her work via Instagram, and Facebook.
If you'd like to find out more about similar artists from the German scene, dive in deeper:
[Read our Judith Holofernes interview]
[Read our Joy Denalane interview]
Where does the impulse to create something come from for you? What role do often-quoted sources of inspiration like dreams, other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play?
I don't know exactly where this impulse came from. I've been putting my thoughts and ideas into songs since I was twelve years old. It started very intuitively and has now developed into an activity that is part of my life.
Art, books, relationships and social processes can move something in me and serve as inspiration.
For you to get started, do there need to be concrete ideas – or what some have called a 'visualisation' of the finished work? What does the balance between planning and chance look like for you?
Rarely do I have a concrete idea or visualization of the work before the creative process begins.
I notice when an experience, a conversation or a phase of life preoccupies me subconsciously. Then I try to sort my thoughts by writing them down or sitting at the piano.
What do you start with? How difficult is that first line of text, the first note?
The first line of text or first note doesn't feel difficult so far. Sometimes I start with the text, e.g. when I'm on the train or on the road. But sometimes I just sit down at the piano with a melody in my ear and start playing.
I wrote the music and lyrics of my song “Du fühlst dich gut an” ("You feel good") within a few hours - sometimes it happens very quickly.
The fact that getting started hasn't been difficult for me so far also has to do with the fact that I very rarely feel the pressure of having to write. But if I haven't put any new song sketches on paper for a long time, I will eventually miss writing.
When do the lyrics enter the picture? Where do they come from? Do lyrics need to grow together with the music or can they emerge from a place of their own?
I often ask myself where my lyrics come from. I have the feeling that the creative process is so close to my subconscious that many of my lines can only be explained in hindsight. But some remain a mystery.
I do think that the lyrics have to merge with the music. If a text is only accompanied by music, somehow the whole thing is lost and the creative potential is not exhausted for me.
For me, these are often the songs that end up in a drawer.
What makes lyrics good in your opinion? What are your own ambitions and challenges in this regard?
For me, lyrics are allowed to rhyme, because that's how they flow. The text does not stand alone, but has a lot to do with pronunciation and vowels. I observe which words I like to sing at the moment, which feel good.
Good lyrics leave room for your own images and interpretations. They play with comparisons, metaphors and describe sensory impressions in a very personal, refreshing way.
Once you've started, how does the work gradually emerge?
I write my lyrics in notebooks. The first few lines end up there after the start and I record the song sketch with my cell phone. Over the following days I play the song as often as I can, I listen to the demo on my cell phone while walking and try to expand and finish it. Then I record a proper demo of the song and capture ideas for pre-production.
Many writers have claimed that as soon as they enter into the process, certain aspects of the narrative are out of their hands. Do you like to keep strict control over the process or is there a sense of following things where they lead you?
I like to follow and not hold onto anything. I love the feeling of not knowing where I'm going to land and how the song is developing. But if on the following day I have the feeling that certain passages don't fit properly, that the song doesn't feel right, then I change them.
Especially in the digital age, the writing and production process tends towards the infinite. What marks the end of the process? How do you finish a work?
For me, the production of a song is always a snapshot. I know that my song "Immer noch" five years ago, for example, would have sounded completely different. Maybe more like the Lissy Fey from five years ago. But today the song sounds like who I am now and that's a good thing. So I finish the work when I like the production and I'm satisfied.
Once a piece is finished, how important is it for you to let it lie and evaluate it later on? How much improvement and refinement do you personally allow until you're satisfied with a piece? What does this process look like in practise?
Keeping away from finished songs helps me in the process. It's easier for me to listen to it again with fresh ears. If a production is not where it should be, my gut feeling tells me very quickly what I need to change.
Basically, I believe in the core of a piece that comes from the songwriting. This core can be a feeling or a main message - the important thing is that it must not be lost.
What's your take on the role and importance of production, including mixing and mastering for you personally? How involved do you get in this?
For my debut album "Da wo ich herkomm" I dealt with the pre-production and production for the first time and did some of it myself. In this work there are many decisions that determine how a song has to be recorded, mixed and mastered later.
At the same time, a creative ignorance of what the song will sound like in the end remains.
After finishing a piece or album and releasing something into the world, there can be a sense of emptiness. Can you relate to this – and how do you return to the state of creativity after experiencing it?
Yes, I can absolutely understand that.
Releasing my debut album during the pandemic felt strange due to the lack of contact with real people. This emptiness fills up when some calm returns and I can immerse myself in books, art, other cities, countries and the realities of other people's lives. These experiences trigger something in me and they probably turn into new thoughts, lines and melodies.
Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you personally feel as though writing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?
If I could put as much sensuality into making a cup of coffee as I do into writing a piece of music, I could imagine doing the same. Music is always a way to access myself and at the same time it's so little about myself. I literally forget myself and can free myself from all structures, connections and ideas. It's just my mind, my imagination, and pen and paper.