Alternative pop singer and guitarist Lisa Loeb is noted for her thoughtfully crafted melodies and original songs that contain compelling narratives. Her songs are akin to setting short stories to music, and she initially garnered a lot of unexpected exposure when her single “Stay (I Missed You)” was featured on the soundtrack for the film Reality Bites in 1994. According to Jeff Colchamiro of Guitar World Acoustic, the single “Stay (I Missed You)” holds the distinction of being the sole Number One single by an unsigned artist. Loeb told Colchamiro, “For a long time, being a songwriter and a girl meant that you were considered a folk singer…. I felt like I was doing something more in the genre of Elvis Costello--a person who plays with a band sometimes and plays all different kinds of songs, and it’s not folky. They’re just songs.” Colchamiro described Loeb’s style as, “slick pop arrangements and orchestral instrumentation with… layered vocals, straightforward rock strumming and jazzy acoustic fingerpicking.”
People magazine’s Alec Foege described Loeb’s charttopping “Stay (I Missed You)” as, “an unabashedly sweet acoustic ballad… she seemed daringly different.” Loeb explores the mentality of various characters in her music, and has appeared as an actress in two films and a television show. She told Sharon Steinbach of Hits magazine, “Music is my business, it’s my life, but I can schedule stuff around it.”
Loeb was born in 1969 in the San Francisco area, and was raised in Dallas, TX, along with her older brother Ben. Her father, a physician, used to play the piano at home frequently, as did her brother, and her brother eventually became a classical musician. Loeb was immersed in music lessons and performance experiences before the age of fourteen. When she was eight, she won an award for a song she composed for the piano and she played it in a recital. Her high school had a minimum of two mandatory shows per year, and at the local Jewish Community Center Loeb played Musetta in La Boheme, a postman, a young Mexican girl, an Oscar Meyer wiener in a musical fashion show, and the character Linus in You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown. Loeb began playing the guitar at the age of fourteen— primarily because her brother was always using the piano when she needed it—and she discovered that she enjoyed being able to carry an instrument around with her and take it to the privacy of her room. Loeb’s first live, acoustic guitar performance occurred at sleepaway summer camp, where she performed a unique version of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”.She began writing songs for the guitar at age fifteen, figuring that composing an original song was preferable to remembering the Rush and John Cougar songs that her guitar teacher hoped she would master.
Began playing the guitar at the age of fourteen; began composing songs for the guitar at age fifteen; founded a band called Liz and Lisa with Elizabeth Mitchell of the group Ida; the single “Stay (I Missed You)” featured on the soundtrack for the film Reality Bites, 1994; and it reached number one on the pop charts; released Tails, Geffen Records, 1995; released Firecracker, Geffen Records, 1998; toured with the Lilith Fair, 1997 and 1998; appeared in the film Black Circle Boys, 1997; appeared in the independent Arroyo Studios film Serial Killing for Dummies; appeared in an episode of the television show “The Nanny.”
Awards: Brit Award for “Stay (I Missed You)”, 1995.
Addresses: Record Company —Geffen Records, 9130 Sunset Boulevard, L.A., CA 90069 (310) 278-9010, fax (310) 858-7063. Website— www.geffen.com/lisaloeb
Loeb’s early influences were the Cure, Brian Eno, David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, Kiss, Elton John, the musical Annie, Led Zeppelin, Olivia Newton-John, and the Police. Queen’s A Night At The Opera, including the release’s cover art, was another early influence for Loeb, along with other top 40 rock and pop hits from the 1970s and early 1980s. She learned to finger-pick as a teenager, and developed an interest in acoustic music. She eventually relied upon a hybrid finger-picking style, using a flatpick and finger picking with her other three fingers.
Loeb went to Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island after high school, and found that she was more interested in playing and recording music than pursuing her studies in comparative literature. She created a group called Liz and Lisa in college with her friend Liz Mitchell, and the musician Duncan Sheik played with them for a year. Loeb and Mitchell performed often and spent their last two years in school mostly in the recording studio. A few years after graduating from Brown, Loeb pursued a solo career in earnest and Mitchell founded a band called Ida.
Loeb moved to New York City after college and played as many shows as possible. She tirelessly performed at clubs, coffeehouses, and music festivals until she began to see results. She recorded a demo called The Purple Tape with producer/engineer Juan Patino in his home studio, and during this period of time in the early 1990s, Loeb made a lot business contacts and visited numerous record company offices with her demo tape in hand. Record company A & R executives began requesting her tapes—and the listening public began to purchase them as well. It was serendipitous that actor Ethan Hawke was Loeb’s neighbor and then friend, because he heard “Stay (I Miss You),” requested a copy, played it for actor/director Ben Stiller, and it was featured on the soundtrack for the enormously popular film Reality Bites in 1994. Ethan Hawke then directed a video for the song, and it reached the top of the charts. Loeb didn’t release her debut album, Tails, until 1995, because the popularity of the single entailed touring, extensive promotional work, signing with a label, and appearing on the “David Letterman Show”. “Stay (I Missed You)” was nominated for a Grammy Award and won a Brit Award in 1995.
Tails was released worldwide and Loeb toured with her band, Nine Stories, and alone with her acoustic guitar. Nine Stories is comprised of bass player Joe Quigley, guitarist Mark Spencer, and drummer Ronny Crawford. For the release of Tails, Loeb used Juan Patino on drums, JR Robinson of Chaka Khan, and musician Leland Sklar. She played with Lyle Lovett and Sarah McLachlan in the U.S., and toured Europe with the Counting Crows. She also toured with the Lilith Fair in 1997 and 1998, singing with Lyle Lovett, Emmylou Harris, Shawn Colvin, the Indigo Girls, and Bill Janovitz from Buffalo Tom. She told Calchamiro, “It was a real community and there was a lot of encouragement and good will towards people…. It was a learning experience… A lot of times when you play music, you’re on tour and you don’t get to see what other artists are doing or get inspired by their ideas.”
Loeb appeared in the film Black Circle Boys, which was screened at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival, and in the independent Arroyo Studios film Serial Killing for Dummies. She also appeared in an episode of the television show The Nanny. She then released Firecracker’m 1998 and used classical orchestration in her material for the first time. She told Steinbach, “It takes the songs to a different place than they would normally go. It gives a deeper cinematic quality to songs like “Falling In Love” or “Furious Rose.” They’re not standard pop arrangements. That’s the part of the album I really love.” Firecracker has a more intimate sound than Tails, but features the same storytelling themes as her previous work, a theme that has now become Loeb’s trademark— along with her large, black, cat-eyed glasses. Leob told Steinbach, “I love playing shows. I love being there and relating to the audience and I love when people are singing along at concerts. That feels good, it’s so immediate.”
(Contributor) “Stay (I Missed You) (soundtrack), RCA, 1994.
Tails, Geffen Records, 1995.
Firecracker, Geffen, 1998.
Guitar World Acoustic, January 1998.
Hits, February 20, 1998.
People, November 17, 1997.
React, December 29, 1998.
Rolling Stone, February 5, 1998.
Teen People, April 1998.
—B. Kimberly Taylor
"Loeb, Lisa." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 16, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/loeb-lisa-0
"Loeb, Lisa." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved July 16, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/loeb-lisa-0
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Pop guitarist, singer, songwriter
Lisa Loeb’s talent as a folk/pop rock musician was brought into the mainstream with her “discovery” in 1994. Loeb’s neighbor and friend, actor Ethan Hawke, admired her songs and brought a tape of her song “Stay” to movie producer Ben Stiller. At the time, Stiller was producing the movie Reality Bites, in which Hawke starred. Stiller added the song to the movie soundtrack, and Loeb made history. She became the first unsigned artist to reach number one on the Billboard pop chart with the single “Stay.”
Even though her trademark tortoise-shell, horn-rimmed glasses look like a signature fashion statement, Loeb insists they are necessary. Contact lenses cannot correct her vision. She told Seventeen, “My glasses are a normal and real part of me. They aren’t an act. I’d be selling out if I didn’t wear them.” She believes the glasses, her college education, and wordy lyrics contribute to her “nerdy” image, but that’s fine with her. She thinks nerds are the most interesting people.
Lisa Loeb was born in 1968 and grew up in Dallas. Her father is a doctor; her mother a homemaker. Loeb started playing the piano at a young age, but then took guitar lessons in junior high so she could imitate Andy Summers of The Police. When she switched to guitar, she also began writing her own songs. For 12 years, Loeb attended The Hockaday School in Dallas, a very discipline-oriented prep school. She excelled there, finding the academic challenge rewarding. She was an honor student and student council president while acting in school plays, performing music, and disc jockeying at a local school FM station. She then attended Brown University, studying comparative literature and Spanish literature. At Brown, her roommate Liz was also a singer. They formed a duo, Lisa and Liz, and performed around campus with acoustic guitars and their own folk songs. In 1990, she graduated from Brown and moved to New York.
After college, Loeb briefly took voice lessons and studied for a summer at the Berklee School of Music in Boston. She was eager to perform, though, and began touring with Liz. They eventually formed a band, called Nine Stories, but after a year of lineup changes, Liz ultimately parted with the band. Loeb’s first studio recording came in December of 1992. It did not include her band because they were taking a break while their drummer toured with the band They Might Be Giants” During this hiatus she met Juan Patiño, a record engineer and producer, and they recorded The Purple Acoustic Tape, available for sale only at her shows. Loeb continued to play the smoky coffeehouse scene in New York solo and with her band.
With the band Nine Stories, “Stay” was released in 1994 on the Reality Bite. soundtrack, produced and
Born in 1968 in Bethesda, MD (some sources list Dallas, TX); raised in Dallas, TX; education: Brown University, B.A. comparative literature, 1990.
Sang and played guitar since junior high; began writing songs in high school; performed college coffee-house scene as a member of Lisa and Liz; formed Lisa Loeb and Nine Stories, 1991; original band included Lisa Loeb, guitar and lead vocals; Tim Bright, electric guitars; Jonathan Feinberg, drums; and Joe Quigley, bass. Later members include Mark Spencer, lead guitar; and Ronny Crawford, drums. Recorded solo cassette called Purple Acoustic Tape, December 1992; with Nine Stories recorded single “Stay” for the Reality Bite. soundtrack, February 1994; appeared at South by Southwest Convention, March 1994; with Nine Stories, released Talls, in September 1995; contributed to Twiste. soundtrack, 1996.
Addresses: Home —New York, NY. Office —Geffen Records, 9130 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90069-6179. Fan club —Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories P.O. Box 910 Village Station, New York, NY 10014-0486. Website —http://www.geffen.com.
engineered by Juan Patiño, Loeb’s boyfriend at the time. “Stay” was inspired by an argument between her and Patino. She told Seventeen, “I think that’s what art is all about-taking a little truth and turning it into a good story.” Loeb managed to shrewd ly own the master tape of “Stay,” so RCA paid to lease the song for the soundtrack. When the sing le hit the top of the charts, the major record companies came calling. Loeb earned a Grammy nomination for best new artist. The single eventually went gold, selling nearly a million copies. Six of the biggest labels wanted to sign her to a contract. After being wined and dined by all six, Loeb finally choseGeffen, an alternative music label (representing Hole among others), and they gave her an advance to record an album.
One of the surprising aspects of Loeb’s career is the fact that her album Tail. was not released until September 1995—an entire year after the success of “Stay.” That fact did not surprise or trouble the executives at Geffen, though. The album started from scratch, and the collaborating team of Loeb and Patino is meticulous, if not perfectionist, in their record-making effort. What Loeb thought would take a month in the studio took much longer because they were so detailed in their approach. Geffen understood that Loeb also had to fulfill promotional obligations for “Stay.”
When Geffen released her album in September 1995, they had the task of promoting an artist who was not proven in her ability to sell an entire album, but whose single had sold nearly a million copies. Loeb told Billboard magazine that she hoped “success at top 40 won’t preclude airplay at college radio.” Loeb feels that her music is right for a college audience—her lyrics have often been labeled “dormitory.” Her image remained bookish—especially with the acknowledgment that her band was named after a J. D. Salinger collection of short stories.
The critics gave mixed reviews to Tails. Andrew Abrams in People wrote, “She tries to meld a kind of soft-grunge electric sound and her more comfortable coffee house-on-campus folk guitar style with varying effect.” Rolf Rykken of Critics’ Choice remarked, “While she lacks the edge of Alanis Morissette, she is eminently listenable.” Gina Arnold of Metr. wrote that the album “is not a striking effort in any way.” She added, “Loeb is the queen of the undamaged psyche, the princess of bedroom poetry.” Arnold described Loeb’s style, saying she “has a high, pretty soprano voice and a sure way with a melody.” Parke Puterbaugh of Stereo Review wrote, “Loeb braids folk and pop into a fetching union, singing in a breathy, insistent voice that has a lovely, limpid timbre.”
Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories toured to promote their album. However, Loeb and Patino replaced two of the original three bandmembers. The band that appeared on the album included Tim Bright on electric guitars, Jonathan Feinberg on drums/percussion, and Joe Quigley on bass. Only Quigley remained on tour—joined by Mark Spencer on lead guitar, and Ronny Crawford on drums. Juan Patino told Entertainment Weekly, “Nine Stories is a revolving door.” Jane Stevenson of the Toronto Su. rated one of their concerts a four out of five and commented that Loeb has a number of assets, including: a powerful voice, accomplished guitar playing, and a composed intelligence and sense of humor.
In 1996, Loeb wrote a new song for the Twiste. movie soundtrack and she appeared very briefly—for about ten seconds—in a film starring Donnie Wahlberg titled Black Circle Boys. With Loeb’s varied background and talent, her future looks bright.
Purple Acoustic Tape, produced by Juan Patiño, December, 1992.
Naked Rhyth. (compilation), Steam Records, August, 1993.
SXSW Live Vol. Tw. (compilation), March, 1994.
Mud on the Whee. (compilation), Earth Music/Cargo Records, July, 1994.
Reality Bite. (soundtrack), RCA, 1994.
Tails, Geffen Records, September, 1995.
Billboard, August 5, 1995.
Critics’ Choice, November 13, 1995.
Entertainment Weekly, October 6, 1995.
Madamoiselle, September, 1995.
New York, September, 1995.
People, October 2, 1995.
Seventeen, April, 1995.
Stereo Review, February, 1996.
Toronto Sun, December 20, 1995.
Additional information provided by the Lisa Loeb website at http://www.geffen.com.
"Loeb, Lisa." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 16, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/loeb-lisa
"Loeb, Lisa." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved July 16, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/loeb-lisa