Lisa Jackson

Posted By Brie Austin In Category: Interviews , Music

Lisa Jackson @ CBGBs NYC

If you live in New York and haven’t heard of Lisa Jackson & Girl Friday, you’ve been sleeping for the past year. The band exploded onto the NYC underground scene about a year ago, and since then has taken their music on the road — attracting fan bases in Minneapolis, Chicago, Wisconsin and most recently Boston and Philadelphia.

Lisa & Girl Friday performed at CBGBs rock club to celebrate the completion of their newest CD: “I Am A.O.K.”

Like in every review I have written about them, the band was tight and engaging as their fans sang along. One thing that’s consistent in every show is that their fans are always smiling.

Afterward I caught up with Lisa backstage.

Brie:  So, here we are again. deja Vue, another strong show, another packed house, how many more times can I keep telling the readers how great you & the band are? (Laughing) 

Lisa:  As many times as you like (chuckle)

B: I interviewed you last year for TG Community News and we discussed you as a person, as well as you as a performer, what’s changed since then?

LISA: Lisa Jackson is no longer the “performer” people see on stage, it is also the person I am. (Steve) and Lisa are now merged,  I am the sum of them.

B: Tonight was your CD release party, and I was surprised when I arrived and there was such a small crowd. But, by the time you took the stage it was probably the largest crowd I have seen you draw to date. What was your impression?

LISA: Well, this is the first gig we have done here where it was “our” show. In other words, we weren’t part of something else, like in the past we always performed on a bill with other bands as part of some larger show. Tonight, we were the only draw and I was so nervous when I got here and the crowd was so small. Then when I came on stage and it was packed – I felt so great!

B: Speaking of the crowd, there aren’t a lot of transgender people in your audiences; you seem to draw mostly from the mainstream,with just a few gay and trans people mixed in. How do you account for that? 

LISA:  I think a lot of it has to do with the music; its just fun. Its not threatening to anyone. Even though my lyrics quite often deal with trans-issues, I think it’s in a positive way and people relate from a basic freedom of expression mindset. Also because my band is totally straight, there is an energy that makes us more androgynous, and its about who we are collectively, and again about the music, not my lifestyle.

B: During the show you referenced the vandal that smashed your guitar at a past show. How did it effect you? Does an act of hate like this ever make you think about quitting, or toning down the Lisa Jackson persona?

LISA: You know we had a great show that night here at CBGBs. The crowd was really with us and we (the band and I) really had a good time. Then I come to the dressing room and find my guitar missing and smashed in the back ally. First off, that guitar cost me $1000. Secondly, its my art, its part of me. I just can’t imagine how someone could be such an asshole. Maybe they are insecure, immature … I don’t know, it just really made me mad … and sad.

B: Is this the guitar (pointing to a glass case with guitar pieces in it)?

LISA: Yeah, my band members collected the broken pieces and had this made for me, sort of like a shrine I guess. I thought that was really sweet of them, it touched me.

B: What did you think about that?

LISA: It was very serious, they (the band) came to a turning point I think, they felt my pain and as band-mates, and friends, solidified our relationship; they wanted to help me get past it and were so supportive. They came to me and said they didn’t want me to pay them for the next several shows. In their mind what happened to me, happened to all of us. When they presented the guitar pieces in the case, I felt very loved and connected to them, it was like a symbol of our new relationship and marked the beginning of a new chapter.

B: Are you happy with your record?

LISA: I am, it’s the best recording so far, and I’m proud of the work we’ve done. The album is called “ I’m A.O.K.” and features 9 songs. It will be commercially mass produced and ready for sale hopefully in August.

B: I noticed that ever since the Qwere Music Fest (summer 2002) you no longer use breast forms, you do a flat-chested look. What’s that about?

LISA: I had all this stuff – nails, tits, so much make-up, I think I went through a process of shedding a lot of that “stuff” that maybe I was hiding behind. I have found what I am comfortable with. So now, sometimes I feel like mascara and a skirt, sometimes I dress up and get totally done – it’s about how I feel that day.

B: People think that its easy, if you have a little talent, to get out there as a band, but there’s really much more to it behind the scenes isn’t there?

LISA: Sure, it’s a grind. You can’t do this unless you love your art. I’m  a product that I have to invest my money into, constantly honing it, trying to make it better. By the time I pay for recording, travel and not making money while we rehearse,  I’ve lost money – (laughing) then I have to take time off to work (as a carpenter) to pay for it all, then do it all again. I am definitely paying my membership dues. That’s why its so helpful when the community comes out to see us, it helps finance our efforts.

B: So what’s next for Lisa Jackson & Girl Friday?

LISA: We’re performing at the Philadelphia Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, then doing a gig in P-Town. Then it’s time for a break, I have to make some money,  and shop for a record deal. I feel that we are ready to go to the next level.

B: I wish you all the best, and will continue to be a fan

Lisa: Thanks so much

(PUBLISHED in Girl Talk Magazine 2003)
Copyright 2003 – All Rights Reserved

Read the record review – Glide Magazine


About Brie Austin

Co-author of I'd Do It Again, he is a columnist/reporter for a variety of magazines in the areas of music, lifestyle, nightlife, travel and business. He also writes business documents and creates copy for websites.

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