Liz Phair Wants to Get ‘Down and Dirty’ With Ryan Adams on Next Album
Ever since releasing her groundbreaking 1993 album, ‘Exile in Guyville,’ Liz Phair has had a career full of ups and downs. The musician faced a lot of pressure during the ’90s to continue her successful discography, but faced harsh criticism and “sell-out” accusations from fans for her self-titled 2003 release. Fast forward nine years later, and we find Phair working with a Academy Award-winning film composer and wanting to collaborate with former Cardinals frontman Ryan Adams.
Phair teamed up with A.R. Rahman, who composed the score for the Oscar-winning movie ‘Slumdog Millionaire,’ on the film ‘People Like Us.’ The drama stars Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks and has been getting a lot of buzz in Hollywood. Stereogum recently caught up with Phair to talk about working on the ‘People Like Us’ soundtrack, as well as her own varied career.
‘We made a song together called ‘Dotted Line,’ and it’s funny — I was reading things that people had already written about our collaboration that said things like, ‘She wrote a song called ‘Bollywood’ [from Phair’s 2010 album ‘Funstyle’] and then she went to work with a Bollywood producer,’ and it completely didn’t happen like that. It was just random,” says Phair.
She continues: “He had been brought on by the film’s director, Alex Kurtzman, to do the score and then they asked me to come in. I think initially A.R. was just trying to gauge where I was. I mean, I’m a professional musician with a career, but at the same time I kind of don’t know anything … and, you know, he’s this trained composer and I’m just this kind of rogue songwriter. I don’t know what you’d even call it.”
Phair had a big part in the early good fortunes of indie label Matador Records. After the success of ‘Exile in Guyville’ and the follow-up ‘Whip-Smart,’ major labels started knocking on their door. The singer doesn’t have any desire to return to the corporate world of music.
“I still have that feeling like I just got out of a bad, traumatizing relationship,’ she states. “Here’s the thing that nobody ever seems to understand: I did not sign to a major label. Matador Records went to majors — first they went to Atlantic and then they went to Capitol. They left Capitol eventually, but I was retained by Capitol. They compensated me, but they didn’t really give me a choice in the matter. So suddenly I was on a label — a major record label — in perpetuity, without any of the foundational people that I’d come up with. I was just plunked on a major label. So at the time I just thought, f— it, I’ll just try and run with the rest of the … stags? Big dogs?”
With all that behind her, Phair is looking toward the future and has one person in mind who can help her bring back authenticity into her music. “I want to make a kickass record, and if I have my way I’ll have Ryan Adams produce it and we’ll do some down and dirty s— with great songwriting, and it won’t be ‘Guyville,’ but it will be authentic,” she shares. “And I’ll tour it. I’ll tour the s— out of that s—.”