LimeWire Store asked Phair to give us the lowdown on Funstyle and her return to the “alternative” side of the fence.
The first couple of tracks on Funstyle are pretty blatant satires of your music biz travails — why did you choose this time and this way to make that kind of statement?
Liz Phair: Well, my dance card in 2008 was all full with ’90s nostalgia. I had to wait till the floor cleared to really rip it up. No, seriously, I was inspired by some really uninspiring people.
The opening song mentions “career suicide,” obviously meant in a light-hearted way, but is there any glint of seriousness in that assessment?
That was a court transcript set to music. Real life made pretty. Or therapy set to music.
You’re rapping on one of the tunes. What made you decide to do that, and did you feel at all self-conscious about it initially?
Well, Joaquin Phoenix and I made this blood pact at the Chateau Marmont two years ago…he chickened out and said it was a farce, but it was real for me, man!
Funstyle is a pretty drastic change from some of the more straightforwardly produced records you’ve made in recent years — how would you describe the journey from there to here?
Left at the stars and straight on till morning. If you bait a dog long enough, she’ll bite you. Irreverence is the sincerest form of flattery.
Stylistically, there’s a bit of everything here — electronic, hip-hop, ballads, pop, R&B — was that part of the plan, or just the way it worked out?
Omnivore is the new vegan. Why settle for an identity when you can have multiple personalities? Why not enjoy all the grooves God gave you?
“And He Slayed Her” is alleged to be a dig at Capitol Records’ Andy Slater. Can you talk about that and/or your experience with Capitol?
I think I’ve said all I need to say in the song. Once I’ve had my vent I’m okay about it. I’m out of there. That’s what’s important.
Why did you decide to include a bonus batch of tunes from your early GirlySound recordings with this album?
I’ve always wanted GirlySound to be heard by a wider audience. Guyville was specifically Stonesy. My sound is being true to the sound a song wants to have. Different songs, different influences, different sounds. Girlysound is a good example of my eclectic, irreverent, yet heartfelt roots, a lot of what Funstyle is about.
Have your ideas changed about the place you want to occupy in the music world, either artistically or commercially?
No, I’ve always seen music as a vehicle for saying what I really think, exploring emotions, rocking and weeping in public, basically sharing and trying to move people in one way or another. It’s all the same to me — this scene, that scene. I think scenesters should bicker less and experience more.
What other artists are you listening to these days, or were you listening to around the time you recorded Funstyle?
Just started checking out Sharon Jones. Can’t stop listening to “Ridin Solo” by Jason Derulo. Lil Wayne’s I Am Not a Human Being is waiting to be checked out, and renewed interest in Cat Power, Spoon, Sonic Youth, and GBV after Matador 21 in Vegas. Chavez rules.
How much does the Liz Phair of 2010 have in common with the Liz Phair of GirlySound days?
I still love making and listening to music. I still have something to prove. I still love my guitar. I still listen to the regular radio when I drive. I still stomp around in big boots on occasion. I still think I’m 6’1?, though only 5’2?, and I still fight the powers that be.