We Chat to Lizzie Esau About Her New Single, Working with Steve Grainger, and Dot to Dot

Photos: Storm Hudspith-Walker, Jamie Morecambe
Interview: Gemma Cockrell
Sunday 14 April 2024
reading time: min, words

Lizzie Esau may hail from Newcastle, but her long-time working relationship with Notts-based producer Steve Grainger means that she is an honorary citizen. We chat to her all about her latest single Wait Too Late, her upcoming appearance at Dot to Dot, and her unofficially-announced upcoming sophomore EP...

IMG 5337 5 3 Photo Storm Hudspith Walker

Hey Lizzie! How are you?
I’m doing good thanks! Hope you are too.

Been loving your new single Wait Too Late. How did the track come together?
Thanks for listening to the new single, I’m glad you like it. I wrote it a few years ago and it basically all came together around the synth you hear at the beginning. It was a bit more repetitive and not the sound you hear now, but it was similar.

Then came in the drums, and this beat I was playing around with, inspired by Fools Gold by The Stone Roses. I loved how strong the tambourine was in that song, which feels like a rogue way to be inspired by a whole song, but this song stemmed from that synth idea mixed by this beat I was really inspired by.

The single has quite a rocky sound and some really powerful lyrics. What’s the story behind the place that the song and the lyrics came from?
The lyrics came from just everything that was going on in the world at the time – and what is still going on, unfortunately. It was a couple of years ago that I wrote it, like I said, but I think it’s quite sad how relevant it still is today.

It’s really just about how we are treating the planet, how we are treating each other, how people in positions of power really aren’t doing anything about it. There are wars going on and there will be until we decide that enough is enough, and enough people have died.

It’s so sad that this song is still as relevant as it was as the day I wrote it and all the things I talk about to do with the climate as well. I wrote it around the time it was in the news about all these crazy fires in the amazon and I felt really helpless about what I can do to help.

But there’s always something, always a reason to have hope. This song is, I guess, it doesn’t provide solutions but it’s just angry that we’re even in these problems – not particular positive but I think it’s needed at times.

It was a couple of years ago that I wrote it, but I think it’s quite sad how relevant it still is today.

Obviously, you worked once again with Steve Grainger on this release. For those who might not know, Steve is from Nottingham - what do you feel makes the partnership that you have work so well?
This is another track we worked on together. I’ve worked on so many songs with him now, it’s been a good few years of us working together. I think the reason we work so well together is the fact that he’s very able to take on advice. Time is an amazing thing, you evolve together, so sticking with someone through time is a great way to grow together and find the perfect sound together.

We’re both really honest with each other, if he’s not into something I’ve done he’ll tell me and if I’m not into something he’s done he’ll let me know. It’s this honesty that we have – nothing is personal, and from that we always get the best result.

Finding someone who you work well with, who you can be open and honest with, and you’re not afraid to tell each other what you think is so important, but also, he’s very talented. We’re very lucky to have found him and to work so well with him for so many years.

I feel like Nottingham has somewhat adopted you as our own because of this partnership, how does that feel from your perspective?
From working with Steve for so long, and he lives in Nottingham, means that shows there feel really special. We’ve had the chance to record there a lot because of him so it really does feel like we’ve been adopted a bit.

My mum also lived there for a while, she went to uni there, so there’s many connections to it, and it’s just a lovely place to go, it’s very welcoming. So, I hope we’ve been adopted by everyone there!

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How do you think your sound shaped into what it is today. What are the different influences and do you think Nottingham has played a part in that at all?
I think the sound we have today has definitely come from everyone around us working on the project. Obviously, Steve is a massive part of that and Nottingham feels like a massive part of that through our contact with him and the recording we have done there, facilitated by the fact that he was a student at the uni, so we got access to great facilities, which helped the music so much.

The band are just as much of a part of this as me. They shaped the sound; they’re masters of their instruments and their craft. It’s so great to work together on building these songs, each part is so well thought out by them, which just makes it incredible.

Our manager is so great, too. The sound has shaped over time and I feel like we are releasing the best stuff we ever have, which is such a great feeling. It’s braver, it’s heavier, and I just want to keep going.

You performed on the Courtyard Stage at Splendour last year, for example, how was that experience? I was there myself - it was quite a rainy day!
Performing at the Courtyard Stage was so great! But yes, it was quite rainy, and we were playing outside on a courtyard, so that was a bit worrying but it packed out and it was really fun – everyone, as usual, gave us a great welcome.

I feel like it was really sunny, as well, until we went on. So, we still had a really nice day, walking around the festival. It was very warm until we went on stage! But it was still a great vibe and I’m grateful we got to play there. Hopefully we get to go back one year.

Time is an amazing thing, you evolve together, so sticking with someone through time is a great way to grow together and find the perfect sound together

Speaking of Nottingham festivals, you’ll be at Dot to Dot this year - how are you feeling ahead of that? Can you share any details about your set?
I’m so excited to be at Dot to Dot this year. We’ve never played it before so it feels really good to be coming back to Nottingham to play a festival, two years in a row, I feel very lucky to be doing that.

The line-up is incredible as well, Wunderhorse are one of my favourite bands of all time, so to be playing on the same bill as them is just crazy to be honest, so thanks for having us back!

The set is going to include loads of new stuff, I’ve got so many new songs coming this year, so it’ll be full of high energy and new songs. There’s a lot to come! So please do come and see us, and don’t mis out.

You’re about to go on tour with Swim School, and while there’s no Nottingham date, there are shows in Birmingham and Sheffield. How did that one come about and how are you feeling ahead of it?
We’re so lucky to be taken on tour with them – it’s fast approaching and we’re very excited. We met each other a couple of times throughout festival season and we’re on the same label, also, I think we first met in Wales, in Cardiff, both supporting different bands in the same venues on different floors.

We have a lot in common and stayed in contact and supported each other, so it’s amazing that they’re taking us on tour. We can’t wait, they’re incredible, if you don’t know them for some crazy reason, you should check them out!

Lizzie Esau Photo Credit Jamie Altfocus Morecambe 6 Resized

For anyone who is seeing you live for the first time this year, whether at a gig or a festival, what should they expect?
I think, expect it to be very high energy, we get the crowd involved, sometimes we go out into the crowd – I like to make the crowd part of the show, as it helps me, you feel more involved and I love doing stuff like that. So don’t be too terrified if we get you involved!

It’s always fun, the gigs are light-hearted, even though the music is quite serious. I hope that comes across, we’re all having the best time and we think you’ll be able to see that. It’s quite emotional because the songs are quite passionate.

We give everything every show, it’s our favourite thing to do, me and all the boys. It’s a good time. I don’t know how much more I can sell it to you – just come and see it for yourself.

What else is on the horizon for you, either in terms of live shows or music that you are planning on releasing?
There are so many new things coming up! I feel very privileged, I feel like one thing happens and then there are more things to look forward to. There are things yet to be announced, opportunities we’ve had, and I can’t wait to let people know about them – some of them have been years in the making.

We’ve got new releases, a new EP in the autumn, which I keep mentioning unofficially – it’s not been officially announced yet, but that’s the plan. So, we can’t wait! This is going to be our second full EP release and I feel like it’s going to be the best so far.

The music is even more heavy, even more emotional, even more brave, speaking on things that we care about. I think the next single after this one will keep up the momentum until the autumn, which I can’t wait for.

Keep an eye out on Instagram and TikTok, all those things that I’m constantly sharing stuff on, and check it out. And if you like it, please share it with friends and bring people along to shows! And keep an eye out for the EP in autumn – it’s going to be big, I hope.

Lizzie Esau's new single 'Wait Too Late' is out now and you can catch her at Dot to Dot 2024 or on tour with Swim School

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