We recently caught up with Lisa Avon, the frontwoman of melodic rock outfit Orestea, a few months after the release of their latest record Elements. I pick her brain on all things music related from influences and origins, to some of her favourite song lyrics she’s written and her advice to future musicians. Also, hairstyles?!
How would you describe your sound to people?
Some sort of rock.
What does your band name mean and where does it come from?
This is genuinely the dullest story ever. I should really make up a better answer cause I’m pretty sure we get asked this in every interview and the answer gets cut cause it’s not interesting! We had loads of ideas for names but didn’t really like any of them enough to settle. I found an old programme for a show I was in when I was in a youth theatre group called ‘The Oresteia’ and I had always pronounced it wrong…so we went with the way I pronounced it!
A lot of creative people need a way to stimulate their creative process. What inspires you to write?
You can’t go looking for inspiration to write, if you do then the results are almost always disappointing. Inspiration just kind of hits from whatever aspect of life I’m focused on at that moment. I always want to make sure that my lyrics mean something to me and take me back to a moment in time so I really struggle to just sit down and say “right, I’m going to write lyrics now.” But on the flip side, I could overhear a conversation, watch a film, or have a dream about something and think of words which I then have to get noted down as quickly as possible so I don’t forget them! My iPhone notes app is just full of verses and lines that I want to develop.
Do you have a favourite song you’ve recorded so far and why?
That’s a tough one. I think the one I’m most proud of is Burning Bridges from the new album. That song was so far out of my comfort zone but I knew it was worth persevering with. We also got to collaborate with one of our good friends James Elsey on it which was awesome!
Lisa, you’re known for your bright and unique hairstyles. Any ideas on the next colour/style?
I’m literally going to the hairdressers in less than 12 hours! Since cutting my hair into a pixie it’s been growing way too fast so I think it’s time to get the clippers out! I’m loving pictures of girls with tramlines at the moment so I want to do that too!
Who are your main musical influences? Feel free to include any non-musical influences if there are any.
There are so many and it’s changed a lot over the years so this is quite hard to answer. I guess at the moment I’m vocally inspired by a lot of female pop singers alongside the heavier stuff I’ve always listened to. Yesterday I went back through the Deftones back catalogue for the first time in ages but then I switched to listening to Alma so it’s a bit all over the place really!
How has your music evolved since you first started playing music together?
I think we have stopped trying to make music that we think people will like and started just making what we want to play. It definitely feels more natural to play our most recent material. We are embracing a much broader spectrum of influences as well. 5 years ago I think we might have been afraid of letting pop influences come across as much as we did on the most recent album.
What has been your biggest challenge as a band?
Balancing the band with all of the other stuff that comes with being an adult. Work, mortgages, marriage, children. We are all pretty good at the balancing act now but we would be lying if we said it was even remotely easy!
Do you have any advice for people who want to form their own bands?
Make sure you are surrounded by friends. Musical ability is always important but if you can’t stand each others company then it is never going to work out.
A lot of female fronted bands face the stigma of people comparing them to other female rock singers such as Hayley Williams or Amy Lee. Have you ever had to deal with this?
Of course. I doubt there’s a female rock singer who hasn’t faced this to be honest!
What inspired you to form Orestea?
I have been playing in bands since I was 14 so when Lloyd and I moved to Guildford the intention was always to get a new project on the go. We are lucky that we met Mike pretty early on at uni!
Do you have a favourite lyric from any of your songs?
There are a few I love which people often tell me resonate well with them: “I forever live in hope and fear that today will be the one that defines me.” “No use starting at a mirror nothing to reflect apart from my own bloodshot eyes & nothing’s clear in retrospect.” “I’m not who you were searching for just someone hiding in her skin.”
Quite a few local music venues are closing down. What are your thoughts on this and which venue do you love performing in?
I find it so sad to see great venues closing all over the place. It’s a hard climate to thrive in as a venue and the decline of ‘all age’ venues over the past 5-10 years has unfortunately meant that by the time people are old enough to go to shows, they’ve already developed other interests. I was lucky enough to have one of the best small venues in the UK pretty much on my doorstep when I was growing up (The Forum in Tunbridge Wells) and I started going there when I was 13, so music was my entire social life throughout my teen years. I’m not sure that I would be such a live music lover now had that opportunity not been present until I was 18.
Finally, what have Orestea got planned next for the future? Any new music or tours on the horizon?
More shows, more music! Watch this space!
Check out the latest video single Welcome To Surviville: