'Horror Stories' From Liz Phair
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She followed that with a number of albums and then sort of retreated for a while to raise her son now fifty two years old. Liz Fair has a memoir. It's it's called horror stories and in the prologue. She describes a phone call with their manager. Following the death of Prince in two thousand sixteen. It was a very funny phone in conversation. A unique conversation where he kind of challenge to me in a way. I wasn't expecting I didn't think of myself as old but he was like Liz. You know none of us know how long we've got you know you don't know. Are you GonNa be here tomorrow. You don't know is what you're making right now. What you'd WANNA leave behind if it was the last thing you ever did and it just shook me up because I suddenly thought like no I have more to say? I have more to say that I would like to say and sort of when I started writing and your book is out now. This may seem almost like an existential question but as the songwriter and Liz in the author the same person we are we are says the royal we we are are the same person I would say. Liz Fair is a narrower if you picture a pie chart right picture in eighteen percent wedge of that a pie chart and then extend that wedge outward is if it's a focused beam of energy that is so strong just like shoots out of the Pie chart that would be he lives fair and then the person who wrote the book is sort of all of me the whole pie chart everybody because very early in the book q wrote and I'm quoting yourself back to yourself. You say I'm trusting you with my deepest self and I'm wondering if you think you can be more honest s ask a writer than you are as a musician in a way. Obviously you have more room to explain a situation. Listen get more granular with it and really sort of muse about the unanswered questions. I think that was maybe the most fun thing about the pros. Writing is that I can russell with the problem that I can't find a solution to and I can wrestle with it page after page and it's interesting but but it doesn't resolve and I think with a song you kind of have to resolve it and kind of say like do. Here's here's what here's what I'm setting up. Here's what's happening and here's switch your takeaway as it's just it's almost symbolically stated in the song I'm GonNa give you the intense points and nothing thing else and in prose you can really slow time down. Bring you into the experience. As if you're looking at a my is feeling everything I'm feeling and and I can really take you on a journey. I'm going to play a bit of a song from your first record. Exiling Guy Hill. This song is called Bull was I. Just listen you write in the book. Everybody thinks this song is about sex and on one level it is is but it's also about these moments when real connection and feeling is abandoned in favor of self preservation and it got me thinking about the way the an artist's sees his or her songs and the way an audience does and where they align when they don't and what. That's like that occasional disconnect. I have never found it. Served anyone to answer the question that is commonly asked of me. What is this the song about every single time? I explain what I think about it. Disappoints never speaking with really sat. Ask this whole idea of what they wanted to be about and for them if that is what it is about that is what it is about. It really isn't mine anymore and I know that's a cliche. Everyone says it always sent off into the world. They're like my children but I let them go. I don't think of my songs is my children but I also don't think of them as mine. Once completed once a song has been recorded properly it ceases to be mine it can be created by me but it belongs to everybody at that point in a weird way. We're talking with Liz Fair about her new book horror stories. There's a chapter in this book called Hashtag and there's a lot going on it but I'm going to ask you about a couple of things and one is that you write. Being female in the entertainment industry can sometimes feel like running a never her ending gauntlet of Horny dudes. I if you think I invited that kind of interest after I published sexually Frank Lyrics. You'd they have gotten the cause and affect flipped and then you're right on the same page they can't make you an object. I reasoned if you are adamantly and vociferiously the subject of your own sexuality. So that's what you believed but then other people saw you in a different light based on what you were singing about. So what is your take away from how you wanted to be seen and how people interpreted what you are trying to say. That's a very good question I think that that never quite resolves for me I saw it. I knew what I was doing. I knew that it would be provocative for a woman to sing so explicitly about sex so I intended that certainly I did not realize how the sexual aspects would the eclipse any discussion of anything else. or how that would be picked up in a headline and sort of amplified. I thought of it as rightfully a part of my personality and there was a lot of song I mean there were eighteen songs on exiling Guy Ville and I would say at least fifteen aren't really about sex per se. They may have dynamics that involve that but they're not like explicitly explicitly sexual and I think again. Why is this culture so comfortable with violence in so uncomfortable with sexuality? Why why is that? It's weird. It doesn't seem healthy to me. Psychologically well and there's I think more than that that a woman can be sex positive in her life and in her art and that's considered an invitation to be described in a certain way whereas men can do that and they're they're not categorized right. We have this idea that this is biological destiny. And there's so many more forces shaping it than that when we come back Liz fair shares. How she spoke with her son about porn? Yeah you heard me right. Porn San Sanitary friends famous man and Henry said KPCC. PODCASTS are supported by twentieth century Fox presenting forward versus Ferrari directed by James Mangold old and starring Christian. Bale and Matt Damon now nominated for a Golden Globe for best actor Christian Bale and five critic's choice nominations including best picture of the year here. Katie supporters include Fox searchlight presenting Joe Joe Rabbit from writer director. TYCO not included on both AF is as a national board of Review's ten best pictures of the year and now nominated for the Sag Award for Best Ensemble and best supporting actress. Scarlett Johansson seven critics choice awards awards including best picture and best adapted screenplay and the Golden Globe Award for best actor and Best Picture of the year awards eligible in all categories. KPCC PODCASTS are supported. By Warner Brothers. Michael B Jordan Jamie Fox and Brie Larson's star in just mercy based on the true story of attorney Turney Brian Stevenson's heroic fight to save an innocent man's life. Every generation has its hero made ours variety raved. Just mercy will shake you to to your soul nominated by the screen actors guild for outstanding performance by a male actor in a supporting role for Jamie Foxx for consideration in all categories including including best picture and best supporting actor. Welcome back to this pledge drive edition of the frame. I'm John Horn and our guest. Today is singer Songwriter. Liz Fair last year her debut album exile and Guy Ville got a rerelease for its twenty fifth anniversary. She's currently working with the producer of that record on some new music. But in the meantime she's written a memoir. It's it's called horror stories and its collection of reflections on her life in the music industry and as a mom fair rights that singing frankly about sex was just one part of what she did but it came to define her in some people's eyes just in the two years that the metoo movement has been blazing I feel on social media a difference in tone. I feel you know for whatever reason more respected did more my boundaries respected more less sort of horny solicitations and I have to say it's nice. It's kind nice age so bad on the other side at least not for me. You're probably writing this book all around the time that Harvey Weinstein and Les Moonves Invest. And you write in almost kind of an offhand way about the propositions that you got mostly from record label executives including somebody who's like I'll pay you you five thousand dollars a month to be living concubine you like I make twice that amount and yet it seems so casual. It seems like this is the thing that any woman has to deal with on a daily basis. I'm sorry to tell you but that's the truth like this is what seems so weird to me is how how many men are unaware of what women's lives are like especially and most particularly if you step out of your lane if you dare to live a life. If that isn't one of the prescribed and approved of roles for women you're basically fair game and that hurts that feels bad that's not a positive causative thing and I think I think I wrote that chapter in the end to kind of just say the point is not all the separate things that happened happened. The point is I don't WanNa have to feel like I'm guarding my sexuality behind like a Defensive Wall just to grow up and be mature sure and have sexual relationships I would like a world in which I can do both. I can be intelligent and safe and still have sex. That's pretty much all all. I want thirty to draw are plays in that equation. How do you think a song writer a playwright? A filmmaker can use was his or her voice to say. This is the way that people should talk about each other. I think it's very important. I think artistic output. We're we're kind of like creating myths for us to believe in like that's sort of what our entertainment industry does it. It's a myth making industry. I think the problem has largely largely been that women haven't been seen separate individuals. They're more like a man's life is complete. He's got one of those you know. And if I can't have her as mine what uses she to me. I need to go find someone who will be my woman because at completes my life and she's supposed to do certain things and that's sort I'm an old mentality. No thank you next myth please. And that's where artists step in and they give us different myths to believe in and shoot black. We're talking with Liz Fair about her new book horror stories. Even if you don't really think about or worry about what people read into your songs wchs. How important is it that they feel that you are singing about something that is relevant to their lives especially for women and young women that they feel like thank? You are telling stories that make them feel understood. That's my whole thing. That's my whole thing. I don't want to write songs. Things are actually. That's not true. I do write songs. That are not the kind that would resonate with the listener. They're just very particular to me and I try to keep them off the album so because because they don't fulfill what I want to be doing which is to extend a hand of friendship out there and say like are you feeling alone alone in the cosmos. I'm here to like that's sort of what I'm interested in. Doing is is eliciting a certain emotion from someone explaining what it was like. Take for me to go through it and inviting them to sort of think about their own experiences and feel less alone and how does that change as you grow older. Well I wanNA talk about all sorts of stuff. That isn't sexy and fun to talk about like aging and death and stuff like I I think about it. Once you pass fifty. I think the horizon horizon is there and you see it and it's beautifully. Poignant I mean you really do understand. Your parents finally really do understand. What a gift after every day is and I try to get up and appreciate? It doesn't always work but I try to appreciate how lucky I am. I especially especially feel that way when I see colleagues and people pass away. I'M GONNA ask you one last question. I think you have a teenage son. Is that right. Well He's twenty two. Okay so have you have a young son. Nineteen year old son. I will tell you. He's not listening to Liz Fair right now. But he's listening to a lot of hip hop and I'm curious when nuhere teenage kids. Maybe your own listening to music. That is maybe it's complicated. But maybe it's ultimately a little misogynistic take what are the conversations that you have a parent about musical taste because it's really tricky for me. And I'm wondering how you navigate that. I don't think there's a good way to do that. or I'm not a good enough parent to navigate that well I think where it came up in our household because my son he's into pretty his stuff is more like synth wave. He's into that kind of like eighties revival or not. I'M GONNA get in trouble if I say that. I can't speak for what he likes. I do know he introduced me to Synth Cinthois but I am not authorized to speak on his behalf But I think with porn and stuff I did try to tell my son like that doesn't feel good a woman like you need to know that you need to know that like when you're physically with another person that it's a different thing than what you're watching. You know the same way that you go to a movie wouldn't just like shoot someone or flip your car. I did spend some time explaining the difference and the importance of the difference between porn and real connection. So you may not. You may not listen to hip hop with your son but you watch porn with your son is at the take no I just. I can't I was not one of those monitoring mothers that like you know. Made sure he could only see this. That and the other thing I kept pretty good track track of it for a while and then when he hit like adolescence. There's just no stopping it so I just tried to work on the on the character and the brain. Yeah I think I did okay. He's he's pretty great. Liz Fares new book is called Horror Stories. Liz thanks for coming on the show. Thank you so much and that is it for the frame today. Thanks for listening both on the radio and on demand and thanks for Supporting KPCC SEC. I'm John Horn and we'll see you tomorrow back here at the broadcast center. KABC see podcasts are supported by Warner brothers presenting Joker Todd Phillips Phillips Cinematic Vision See Joaquin Phoenix's Golden Globe and screen actors guild nominated performance winner of the Venice Film Festival's top prize and one of the AFI's defies top films of two thousand Nineteen Varieties Owen Gleiberman name joker the best film of the year describing it as a movie that can and will stand the test of time time for consideration in all categories including best picture director and actor.