Since bursting onto the Australian music scene in 2005 with his debut album, Autumn Flow, Lior has grown to become one of the country’s most successful and respected singer-songwriters. Now following a lengthy COVID-induced hiatus from live shows, he is returning to stages, and to Western Australia, for the inaugural Perth International Cabaret Festival at His Majesty’s Theatre on Friday, June 25. It’s set to be a special show for Lior as he will be backed by a string quartet, performing an intimate concert of songs drawn from his back catalogue, plus songs from Animal in Hiding, a new collaborative project with emerging singer-songwriter Domini Forster (get more info and tickets here). BRAYDEN EDWARDS caught up with Lior to find out what’s changed since we last saw him on stage, and what we can look forward to on the night.
It’s great to have you in town for the Perth International Cabaret Festival. How long since you were last able to perform in WA and how does it feel to be back?
It’s been ages. I think the last show I did in WA was three years ago, and that tour strangely didn’t include a show in Perth. I think it has been over five years since I did a show in Perth. Obviously, it has been a challenging year, and starting to perform again has been an assertion of how important the performance experience is for me, not just to my own sense of happiness and meaning in life, but as a kickstarter to the creative process.
What have you been up to amidst all the COVID disruptions over the past 18 months? And what’s something positive you have been able to take out of the challenging times?
I found the COVID year largely uninspiring from a creative point of view. Once that human connection got taken out of music I felt somewhat bereft of creativity. At some point I resigned to the fact that it was like a sabbatical year and just focused on things I had been wanting to do for ages but could never find the time for amidst the writing, touring, recording cycles. Things like playing piano, which still feels so foreign to me compared to singing or playing guitar. But there is no doubt that the family time was by far the biggest positive.
This show is set to reveal fresh tracks from your collaboration with Domini Forster. Where did the idea for this project come from and how has it grown to what it is today?
Several years ago I was invited to be a judge for a songwriting competition at a music college in Melbourne. A young woman with the voice of an angel got up and played some songs that she had written and went on to win the competition unanimously. I invited her to be my support artist on one of my solo tours shortly after. I could see that audiences adored her so I kept inviting Domini on more tours. In time, Domini became my regular support artist and often featured as a backing vocalist as part of my band shows.
Leading up to my last album we decided to try and write a song together, which culminated in a song called Where Will We Be. Domini and I were really happy with the song and it made its way on to my last album Between You and Me. We had known for quite some time that there was a magical synergy in the blend of our voices, but once we had discovered a synergy in our writing as well, it seemed like a natural progression to embark on a more substantial collaboration together. The project has had a long and organic growth process so even though it is our first body of work created together, it has a level of craft and maturity of two artists that have worked together for a long time.
How were these songs different from what you have done before? And do you feel they more broadly show an expansion of the sound we’re used to hearing from you?
Aside from the obvious difference that the songs are based on two voices in harmony, many of the songs are rooted in storytelling. I tend to be more introspective in my solo songwriting so it was good to explore writing in more of a narrative style. I have often felt the desire to create fairly diverse solo albums that move around stylistically, yet with this project, I felt like I wanted to unashamedly dive deep into a world that harks back to the folk icons of the 60s. There is something about singing in harmony with Dom that takes me to another place and another era that I feel I just want to live in for a while.
Old or new, are there any particular tracks you are looking forward to playing on stage again?
This will be the first time Domini and I will perform some of the new tracks we have written so I am pretty excited about finally presenting them to an audience. Aside from that, I’m lucky to be joined on stage by a string quartet, so it will also be great to revisit some of my older fave tunes in a musical format that I love so much.
What’s next for you after this show? Is there anything else fans can look forward to from you for the rest of 2021 and beyond?
Animal in Hiding – the recording with Domini will come out later this year, but I have also almost completed writing a new solo album, which is likely to come out next year, so there is plenty of new music to come in the year ahead!