LIZ is a scholar of Y2K culture. Aughts inspiration has become the opiate of the pop masses lately, but the cult LA underground-cum-internet star turns nostalgia into a science. Naturally she worships Britney, Christina, Gwen, *NSYNC and those who made it into the history books, but LIZ also reads the loopy finer gel pen print, drawing on unsung Y2K heroes, who invented some of the era's most interesting sounds.
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As such, she breaks the inspirations of her new song "Lottery," co-written by Jesse Saint John, into a few ingredients. "I wanted to make a track as an ode to Nadia Oh. I feel like her work with Space Cowboy really paved the way for a lot of future pop girls today." Indeed, the glitchy, sparkly, hyper-artificial production courtesy of Robokid and AObeats, is an unsubtle interpolation of the cult star, who, though she's been forgotten by the mainstream, is known on reddit as the "Mother of PC Music."
LIZ continues: "Her CGI visual style was super glossy and felt earnest and un-ironic at the time. Us girls play around with those kinds of aesthetics now, because we're nostalgic for the early 00's. But, Nadia was doing it in real time, and probably had no idea the kind of influence she would have on underground pop culture in the future."
"Lottery" is off of LIZ's forthcoming mixtape, on which she promises, "Kylie Minogue, Britney, Vengaboys, DJ Sammy vibes — but, like today." Between the song's abrasive beat, hostile party girl sneering and LIZ's vocal fry coo, ("You want it? Can you afford it? Will you support it? Let me extort it, yeah" she sings between sensual Pussycat Dolls-style "huh huh huh" panting), "Lottery"s other central inspiration is transparent. "This track is also a nod to Danja and Britney. Blackout was such an iconic club record. It was the soundtrack to my first year going out to nightclubs in Hollywood, and all the debauchery that ensued," LIZ explains. There's also some detectable Fergie in her half-rapping delivery. The whole effect drops you right into a Von Dutch bikini, mini-skirt, and the era's mindset of excess and danger.
"Lottery" jerks you between 2006 and 2019 with a scathing feature from non-binary Brooklyn rapper and Drag Race alum Aja, who delivers a pair of hype verses in between LIZ's. "Aja and I both performed the same night in LA recently, and I was honestly so blown away by their talent and commanding stage presence. I knew I wanted to collab with them on something, and this track seemed like the perfect fit. Aja bodied it," LIZ explains.
The collab is a good example of LIZ's chameleonic style. On her new mixtape, the pop star has committed full-sale to nostalgia. She's already teamed up with fellow '00s fetishists like Slayyyter and Kim Petras, releasing PC-meets-euro club bops "Diamond in the Dark" with the former, and "BTR 2GTHR" with the later (all the single art is tamagotchi-themed). However, the artist originally came up as an underground, freaky pop experimentalist, breaking out with 2015 SOPHIE-produced hit "When I Rule The World."
Willingness to take seriously '00s style is a freakiness in itself, but LIZ is owning her new chapter. Her new mixtape will be released on Moving Castle, the label co-founded by AObeats, Manila Killa and Robokid, after spending several years with Columbia Records. "In a way, I'm starting over and re-branding myself. After surviving quite the transition in the music industry, it feels really liberating to be putting out a full length project, especially on commercial streaming services," she says. "Going from the world of underground blog culture and constant free releases on SoundCloud to then sitting on a major label for years without putting out much content, it's a fresh place to be in now where I have the freedom to release independently at my own desired pace."
LIZ promises her new showing will combine the future and the past. "I think it's a particularly good time right now for experimental, future-thinking pop artists who also happen to mix what they're doing with some nostalgia. Whether that nostalgia is ironic or un-ironic, I think it's honestly comforting for my generation. A new generation gets to experience a time in music/pop culture they were maybe too young to be a part of. The mixtape is very euro-clubby, dance oriented, and Y2K (obviously). It's definitely more pop-leaning than R&B, but I wanted to keep a cohesive vibe rather than try to do everything under the sun just because I could. The project has just as much substance and heart to it as it is cheeky and carefree."
Photo: Brian Ziff