Lizzy & the Fanatics Invite Us into their ‘Perfect World’ on New EP

After playing in and around Montreal for the past three years, Lizzy & the Fanatics released their new EP Perfect World, a bilingual dreamy indie-pop EP, on the first day of summer 2020. The release date was appropriate, as the six songs on the EP conjure the nostalgia of summers past, when everything felt possible. While a quartet on the stage, Lizzy & the Fanatics is the brainchild of Lysanne Picard (Lizzy). CJLO interviewed Picard about the new EP, feel-good pop songs in these hectic times, and making playlists for her friends.

The songs of Perfect World explore escapism and the different ways we long for a better place either physically or mentally, in the past or in the future.” Do you feel pop music is more important than ever in helping us cope with the utterly crazy year we’ve had so far? What role do you think pop music in general should play in more difficult times like this

It's so necessary. I think pop music should be prescribed to everyone right now - wash your hands, wear a mask and listen to a pop song ;). For me, going into my “perfect world,” my “safe space” mentally is vital when facing hard times. Lighthearted, feel-good pop music allows me to go there. I think a good pop song should feel like a mini-vacation. For real though, I believe escapist media, in general, can give you a temporary break from reality, which allows you to come back and take a better look at the hard stuff. During the last couple of months, on one hand, I've watched the most reality TV, streamed Carly Rae Jepsen on loop, and watched way too many purposeless TikTok videos; on the other hand, I've never thought, learned and felt as compelled to challenge socio-political issues that need to be addressed in our country and city. I think there is a connection there – you need to “get away” sometimes to be able to “get real” with the difficult stuff, show up and keep going. So yeah, I believe temporary escapism through pop songs can help us not only get through, but I guess be better humans during this crazy year.

Perfect World is full of songs that evoke the best qualities of pop music. At its core, what is it that makes a perfect pop song to you?

Thanks so much for saying that! I find this is a huge question but I think for me, it's all about relatability. All my favourite pop songs contain something familiar; either the lyrics, melodies, or emotion reference something I know and I feel connected. I find that pop music is about sameness, connection and familiarity, not about difference, complexity or otherness; which can be interesting in music, but does not make for a good pop song. When I'm writing songs, an indicator for me that I've found a good melody is when it sounds familiar. We like to hear something we can recognize; it's comforting, it's uniting. That's what good pop songs do, in my opinion.

As someone who is not only a musician, but a visual artist who also draws a lot, how do you find the two fields interacting with each other during the creative process for Perfect World?

I always found that my drawing work is more cerebral and the music I make is more emotional. To find drawing inspiration, I listen to podcasts and read about specific topics. My inspiration when writing a song is so much more internal, I go deep in my feelings. I find a balance that way. Recently in my drawings, I've been interested in the idea of safe spaces and I've been drawing utopian landscapes. I didn't realize that I was also actually writing songs about my experiences with these ideas until after I finished writing the EP. I was drawing in my studio one day and I was like, “wow, all of my songs are sort of also about this as well. Maybe I should call the EP Perfect World.”

There are a couple of songs in French on Perfect World, and you’ve described yourself as having a very bilingual lifestyle.” Is it a conscious choice to write certain songs in French, or is it more spontaneous and natural of a choice? Do you find you approach the lyric-writing process differently depending on the language?

It's definitely spontaneous and natural. I had made up my mind a couple of years back that I would only write in English to be more consistent. Then one day I was riding my bike and the song “Les Fleurs Mortes” came to me quite suddenly and spontaneously. I wrote most of all the lyrics and could hear all the production sounds and ideas in that same bike ride. I just went with it because it's probably one of my favourite songs I've ever written. In the last few months, I've been writing a lot in French - it just feels real to me right now, I can't explain why. I try to write lyrics in French the same way I would write in English. I use simple words and just say things as they are.

Like many artists these days, you recently did a livestream launch show for Perfect World to make up for live shows being a no-go for the foreseeable future. Instead of focusing on the negatives, what do you find are some of the positive things about livestreamed shows? Is there anything that a show online is better at achieving than a live show?

There are so many positive things. First off, during our livestream, there was someone watching from every continent! Just friends and family of Amélie's (who plays keys with me) and I who live around the world: Mexico, New Zealand, Tchad, China, France, etc. Secondly, the interactive aspect of a livestream is unique. We get to read people's specific reactions to the songs as we play. Thirdly, the fact that you can get comfortable is probably the best thing. One of our friends was watching in her hammock in the park. That's ultimately 100 times better than standing in a crowd at a festival on a hot day.

In general, is there any music or non-music related trend popularized by COVID-19 that you hope continues once this is all over?

Maybe this isn't a trend and is on a more serious level, but I really hope we learn and change working conditions and habits. We know now that the least paying jobs in our society are the most needed ones. I really hope we can rethink our world through this idea because of the pandemic. 

To end on a lighter note, I read that you love making playlists for your friends! Whats your process for making the perfect playlist for a friend?

I love this question. When making a playlist for somebody else, I try to put myself in that person's shoes. What kind of music do they like? What are their emotional needs? What mood is good for this person? I try answering these questions, then I find my favourite songs that fit with the answers and build on that. So, making a playlist for someone is a good exercise in empathy. Also, if you nail it, it's a beautiful way of saying I see you and I get you and we all need more of that too during this crazy year.

Perfect World is out now (Independent).

Alex Viger-Collins is the host of Ashes to Ashes, your weekly dose of modern pop, every Tuesday at 8:00 PM EST.