In a land that boasts so many talented singer-songwriters (Dan Sultan, Gotye, Josh Pyke, Ben Lee), Lior is among our most respected. Like fellow artist Gotye, he moved to Australia around the same time Paul Kelly was going from St Kilda to Kings Cross. Ever since then Lior has gone from strength to strength, graduating from acclaimed independent artist to perhaps our finest live performer.
Yet despite all the accolades, is it possible that Lior is looking to stake his claim in another market? “The song that went down best on my last tour was an acoustic version of ‘Living On A Prayer’ which I set to the tune of Sesame Street,” he confesses.
Besides some inconspicuous changes to his setlist, Lior has also been busy recording the theme song for ABC kids show Giggle & Hoot and has plans to launch another track for the program this week. He’s even used his young daughter for his voicemail recording (not really relevant to the above but it was a super cute recording nonetheless).
So, with The Wiggles currently tearing each other’s skivvys off, I felt obligated to pose the question; Lior, is now the right time to jump into the profitable kids market? “No, I still feel the passion burning brightly to be a ‘grown-up’ songwriter,” confirms the humble Israeli-born musician. “There’s no plan on making a kids album.”
Though this news may come as a disappointment to many kids – and parents, for that matter – it will come as warm comfort for fans of his more serious material. Since releasing the highly successful Autumn Flow and subsequent albums Corner Of An Endless Road and Tumbling Into The Dawn, Lior has garnered a reputation as one of this country’s finest voices. He’s also just a darn nice guy.
As good as his albums are, hearing Lior live is an entirely different and equally beautiful experience. It’s little wonder many of the fans who go to his gigs are repeat attendees. Because of this, Lior makes a consciences effort to ensure each of his shows are different, as evidenced by the Shadows & Lights tour in which he collaborated with puppeteers Stephen Mushin and Anna Parry.
“I try to mix up the tours because, as you say, there are a lot people that come back, but it’s also to keep it fresh and exciting for myself. I sort of earned my stripes up on stage so that’s where I feel I get the most direct connection with the audience.”
It’s this connection Lior quickly established with a European audience when he toured there for the first time last year. He’s an oddity in that many artists who make the journey overseas often struggle to replicate the success they have on native soil. “It was a bit of a trip, actually,” Lior says. “I go back and forth from there now and it’s grown there in a very similar way it grew here about five or six years ago. I feel like I’m kinda reliving it. I’m doing a lot of solo stuff and finding that people over there are really connecting with the lyrics and songs in their stripped back form.”
This success can be contributed to the uncompromising approach Lior places on his music. Ever since the success of breakout single ‘This Old Love’ – a track probably responsible for a record amount of births nine months after its release – he has refused to bow to the pressure of musical trend, instead preferring to write based on instinct and current situation.
“I stayed independent for the reason that I never wanted to compromise creative control. Of course you have to be realistic and I have enjoyed an element of success, but I realised if success is the only thing driving you then it really puts a downer on your passion.
“I really try to look at each of my albums as to what my intention was when I made them. Autumn Flow was my most popular album in the way that it crept into mainstream. Corner Of An Endless Road is the album most musicians prefer while for Tumbling Into The Dawn I really wanted to make an album that was more dynamic and had more of a band sound. So, really, I feel I’ve achieved what I wanted to achieve from each album by measuring them philosophically as well as on internal and external measures.”
There’s little doubt he’ll be taking a similar steadfast approach for his next album, which he plans to release sometime next year.
“After this coming show at the Melbourne Zoo I’ll take a few months off to write and I’m hoping by the end of the year I’ve got a good body of material to get stuck into.”
Lior’s next release will undoubtedly be another success. From it will spring another fascinating tour and a new legion of fans. If, for some unthinkable reason, it fails, the kids music market may beckon. Though judging by his immeasurable talent and vast fan base (and simply that he told me he won’t do it), that prospect seems a long, long way off.