Fresh Air’s Summer Music: Excerpts From a Conversation With Lizzo

You can literally feel the BREEZING in the air. My name is Terry Gross. Here’s another interview with a musician from our vault, this time with Lizzo. This year saw the release of her most recent studio effort, titled “Special.” With her debut offering, “About Damn Time,” she achieved her second consecutive No. 1 single.

(Singing) Turn up the music, LIZZO. Lights, please. I think I’m going to be fine. OK. All right. In other words, it’s about time. Turn up the music. Have a party, guys. I have a good feeling about this. OK. OK. All right. It’s high time, to be honest.

(Rapping) I’m going to need a soft-hearted dude or dudette in a minute to get me pumped up.

GROSS: Lizzo spent years as an under-the-radar performer before rocketing to popularity around the time of our 2019 conversation.

Almost two years after its first release, her single “Truth Hurts” has topped the Billboard charts. She has eight Grammy nominations and three wins to her name.

Lizzo considers herself to be a mature young woman. Even the gals in her backup dancing troupe are mature women. This year, she hosted the reality show “Lizzo’s Watch Out For The Big Grrrls” on Amazon Prime Video, in which women auditioned to be her dancers.

Lizzo pursued a career as a classical flute player while she was in university. She still uses her flute, even though hip hop and pop ultimately won out.

In 2014, she collaborated with 3rdeyegirl to create a song for Prince’s “Plectrumelectrum” album. In 2019, shortly after the release of Lizzo’s album “Cuz I Love You,” we had a phone conversation. We kicked things off with “Juice,” the first single from the album.

Lizzo: (Rapping) Look at me in the mirror, I know I’m cute, so don’t tell me. Sweetie, oh sweetie. I’m completely decked out in Louis down to my underwear and LV from head to toe. Aww, sweetie.

I must have resembled ragu with all the sauce that was dripping off of me. Sweetie, oh sweetie. In the spotlight like a crystal ball, that’s great with me since so are you. For me, that’s the norm. Once I start shining, everyone else will, too.

Goals? I’d say that about myself. There’s nothing I can do about it; it’s in my genes. You are now fully informed. Like a fine Chardonnay, I improve with age. That is why.

I overheard you saying that I am not the worst. You liar, you liar, you liar. It’s not my fault that I’m running wild (song). Got to blame it on the Goose. My juice must be to fault, honey. I didn’t ask to be the center of attention, but here I am.

I am the living proof of this statement. I owe it all to my juice. (Vocalizing). You can thank my juice for that. Put the blame on my juice, please. (Vocalizing). Just put it down to the juice I drank. Put the blame on my juice, please. Aww, sweetie.

GROSS: Hello, Lizzo, and thank you for joining us here at FRESH AIR. Your new album is fantastic. Many gratitudes for making the trip.

I’d like to comment briefly on the album’s production quality. It’s great, and there are a variety of artists who contributed to various tracks. You never change up there.

However, the album as a whole has a consistent feel to it, despite the fact that different producers worked on individual songs. I was wondering if you could elaborate on the production process and your role in determining the final sound for each song.

LIZZO: Well, some of you may know that I have a classical music background in both theory and performing. In this respect, I have what you might call an “innate ear” as well as a highly developed sense of pitch, rhythm, harmony, dissonance, and melody.

I experience it as a bodily sensation. Like a tuning fork, once I feel the beat and start vibrating at the right frequency, I know I’ve found the right track.

Fresh Air's Summer Music

Because of my education and experience, I find it much simpler to communicate with producers and can hold my own amongst engineers.

To top it all off, I think we all just like geeking out so much. Some of the tracks even have my name on the credits as a producer because I was there and contributed to the creation of the music in some way (not to mention my DNA).

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