From her pandemic hide-out out in Crosby, just north of Liverpool, singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and self-producer Pixey unleashed a steady stream of jangly cosmic-pop tunes on the music world. Now emerging from the shade, Nieve O’Donnell caught up with the starlet to talk new perspectives, Chess Club Records, and the lo-fi-boom.
When Pixey first released the indie-pop track Young, I don’t think she could have expected to hit 1 million streams on her recent EP Free To Live In Colour. The self-proclaimed indie Britney Spears and her anthemic sound started off unconventionally by producing her own music from her bedroom. Sitting across from Pixey on Zoom from her studio space/residence in Liverpool, we discussed her journey to producing such emphatic, glittering sounds.
From writing and producing her first track, Young, Pixey quickly found ways of producing her music to prompt the dreamy, psychedelic space her music inhabits now. In her own words, she stated that the whole process was “flukey.” Originally, she had to “loop everything because I couldn’t play but somehow it sounded really good” and added a drum filter to the vocals on the track which simply made sense to her at the time. After studying English at University in her hometown, Pixey stated that “if I hadn’t had that unconventional start, I wouldn’t have the sound I have now.”
‘The EP takes you on a journey which culminates in, coincidentally, an outlook of new perspectives.’
During the interview, Pixey noted her love of the local Liverpool music scene and emphatically stated that she wouldn’t want to be from anywhere else. The fourth track The Mersey Line which sees Pixey state “I’ve been living in the shadows of the Mersey Line” and “the city’s looking pretty in the summertime” echoes the sentiment. Ending with Free To Live in Colour, the EP takes you on a journey which culminates in, coincidentally, an outlook of new perspectives, ironic considering the easing of lockdown restrictions moving the UK into the summer.
Sitting down with Pixey in the midst of nationwide easing of lockdown restrictions meant that Covid-19 was, in fact, a bit of an elephant in the room. Being from Liverpool has its perks currently though as Pixey happily stated that she was one of 5000 to have secured tickets for the government approved trial-run of live, mass events. With Blossoms and Zuzu on the line-up, Pixey nodded happily at the suggestion of being able to make an appearance at a similar event sometime soon. Since the interview, she’s been announced as a guest at BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend – a huge feat for the artist and one which should, quite rightly, give Pixey the opportunity to project her big-budget sounds into big-budget venues.
Pixey stated that she’s “always wanted to make big-budget tracks and freak people out when I said I did that from my room.” “When I started, being a bedroom artist was my unique thing and, now, from Coronavirus and the advancement of people buying stuff for their bedrooms, it’s become a much bigger thing.” “I told myself, Lizzie, it’s not that much of a big thing anymore and you need to make something bigger than lo-fi bedroom stuff but I do just love being able to do everything from my little hole.” Although unconventional, the originally trial-and-error aspect of Pixey’s music has given her records a special, anthemic quality. Free To Live In Colour begins with title track Just Move which is reminiscent of sixties guitar music despite sounding contemporary and anthemic. She’s now worked with a variety of producers which, at first, felt like a trade-off between commercial success and musical integrity.
However, she can now safely say that although she’s not comfortable with someone else doing 100% of the production, she’s also learned a lot in an effort to make it a collaborative process. “It’s easy to just say no, do it on my own and be a strong independent woman – which I do want to be - but it’s a great thing as a female music artist to sit there and compose your own track and fully-form it in the way it’s in your head.” At the same time, Pixey says that “it’s been fantastic to see leaps and bounds in my progress which I couldn’t have got without working with other producers but which I also wouldn’t have without starting out by myself.”
“The lo-fi sound became so saturated, that as much as I love it, I wanted to make bigger sounds than that from my bedroom.”
Authenticity is intrinsic to Pixey as is her honesty and integrity as an up and coming artist. Laughing and pointing to a drooping part of her acoustic guitar, Pixey exclaimed “Look at it! This is what a signed artist looks like!” As a result, Pixey’s music is 100% of her own accord. “I’d say 60% of my music is how I make it sound. It’s not the lyrics, it’s not the music, but the effects I put on it and the general sound I put on it. “I don’t think that could be achieved unless I did it myself.” She continues thoughtfully: “When I was first being scouted, the first thing people suggest is putting you in a session with a producer. You get in there and it’s weird because you have to tell them how you want it to sound. It’s often quite hard to relay to someone else what you hear in your head.” It’s even better that she’s backed by Chess Club Records, who she seems genuinely happy to be working with and who allow her to embrace the balance between collaborative recording and her hard-earned integrity.
Pixey cites Mac Demarco as one of those initial inspirations which influenced her, after a live gig of his, to consider that she could recreate those sounds from her bedroom. Over the past ten years, the lo-fi movement has gained mass traction and it’s interesting to see how respective artists have played with the genre. Harking back to her origins, Pixey states that the “lo-fi sound became so saturated, that as much as I love it, I wanted to make bigger sounds than that from my bedroom.” Pixey is constantly exploring new ways to adapt her sound and studio space, telling me that she’d recently got a mellotron plugin which she’d been playing with for the entire day. “When I’m writing I already know what I have to do to get to that point - it’s the greatest and most empowering thing to hear something in your head and know how to create that yourself on your own terms and with your own skill.” Pixey’s mastery of production and her music will see her continue to create big tracks and explore bigger stages as the UK moves out of lockdown.
Written by: Nieve O’Donnell
Edited by: Olivia Stock