The singer talks life-altering mac and cheese, transcendental DJ sets and her new album, Girl In The Half Pearl
“The man always gotta have a bitch on a leash/But they’re the ones always playing in the field” asserts Liv.e (pronounced “Liv”) coolly on the aptly named “Wild Animals”. “Imma be that bitch to tell you personally/That most of these dogs don’t deserve a meal”. The song, delivered in Liv.e’s melismatic R&B lilt, is a forthright and confident statement, reflective of the lyrical conviction across her second studio album, Girl in the Half Pearl.
This self-reliance is a defining factor of the singer’s work in general: the music video for “Wild Animals” was not only self-directed, but the styling, hair and beauty all executed by Liv.e herself. In the four-minute clip, she’s the canine master to a docile doberman, the video’s 80s chrome-luxe stylings reminiscent of the work of German photographer Chris Von Wangenheim, the bedroom scene in Foxy Brown’s ”I Can’t” music video, and the connecting worlds between.
Across the new record as a whole, Liv.e picks apart her converging identities to present a knowingly flawed but ultimately harmonious version of herself, settling those flaws through frank, poetic introspection. “When I look inside myself/I found there was no one to help”, Liv.e admits on “Gardetto”, before hopefully concluding that she’ll “find [her] superpower/Light by fire in the darkest hour”.
Below, the musician shares her Notes app musings, her ultimate ghost outfit, and finally takes those rose-coloured glasses off.
Hi Liv.e! Congratulations on the release of Girl in the Half Pearl. Can you guide us through your inspirations for the album?
Liv.e: Thank you! My inspirations for this album were the art of life itself, then imma say… Sonic Youth, The Slits, this crazy-ass mix Quelle Chris did for Fresh Selects one time that changed my brain chemistry. Also me remembering what it was like being five to ten years old and what I liked – so the Powerpuff Girls, Cartoon Network and Adult Swim.
I also drew inspiration from how I imagine drugs feel – I would do them but I’m too scared, so I tried my best to imagine musically what ecstasy, molly and speed probably feel like.
How would you describe the progression of your sound from your debut, 2020’s Couldn’t Wait to Tell You…?
Liv.e: I think CWTTY… was more like me speaking from a point of premonition. My spirit knew everything that was going to happen when I tuned in with those sounds. Girl in the Half Pearl though, this is me almost doing somewhat of an experiment on myself, as it’s reflected in the sound. This album is one of those where I am writing and experiencing those very moments. And when I review it overall as a body of work I can visibly see myself go through so many shifts and states. So I’d say it’s just another chapter. Sort of what happens when you take rose-coloured glasses off.
How has being from Dallas, or the US south in general, influenced you and your music?
Liv.e: Swang and Twang baby, Swang and Twang.
What first inspired you to start creating? When did you start making music?
Liv.e: One day I had this good ass bite of mac and cheese and I hit this crazy note and that’s when I knew I was going to be really good at this shit. I think that was about five years ago.
Would you record the soundtrack for Donald Trump’s re-election campaign for $10,000?
Liv.e: Most definitely, but I'd have a plan: I’d put something undeniable in the music that made people stop being racist and give reparations in the form of acreage, buying ability and wealth back to Black people.
Please share the most recent note from your Notes app
Liv.e: Oh this is a good one… here we go… this is from a few days ago:
“i want spiritual restoration, i want the capacity to love healthily with healthy attachments and boundaries, i want intimacy, i want mind blowing sex, i want deep healthy passion”
There was more to this but, yeah, a peek into my daily thoughts.
What’s the last text you sent?
Liv.e: “Hell yea!”
The most recent picture/screenshot on your camera roll?
What’s your ghost outfit?
Liv.e: I'm into the phantom drip so I’m going to say a really beautiful silk topaz blue gown with a long train, a very flamboyant furry capelet and probably a very theatrical veil. Classy and scary, you know?
What conspiracy theory are you actually quite into?
Liv.e: The theory that we live under a firmament and there’s more land mass not talked about outside of the Earth.
What would be your funeral song?
Liv.e: “Superman” by Goldfinger. I know my loved ones would make it very churchy.
Who is your nemesis?
Liv.e: At times the voices in my head – they be wilding out and I’m trying to be good!
What would the line-up be in your nightmare blunt rotation?
Liv.e: Tyler Perry, Sarah Palin, 1992 Version of Candyman and Grant Wilson from Ghost Hunters.
What do you reckon you’re most likely to get cancelled for?
Liv.e: Having any other opinion other than the opinion of the masses, or saying something that everybody’s thinking but feel like they shouldn’t talk about.
Girl in The Half Pearl is out February 10 on In Real Life Records.
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