Photo by Mike Ruiz
When Out last spoke with singer/songwriter Eli Lieb in fall 2011, he was releasing his self-titled debut album and reached one million YouTube hits for his cover songs of top pop artists—giving each cover his own take.
The out singer-songwriter is still living in his hometown of Fairfield, Iowa—the U.S. capitol for Transcendental Meditation, which Lieb practices daily (Oprah even did a special on the town and TM)—where he moved back to in 2010 after a decade of living in New York City and trying to make it the music industry. Lieb didn't give up, however, and he continues to share his passion of music with the world via YouTube and is excited about the work on his upcoming album.
While Eli was visiting New York this week, he teased us with what we can expect in the new album, what it feels like to be a YouTube sensation, and a musical crush on Marina & the Diamonds.
Out: Over seven million YouTube viewers, how has your life changed since you became a "YouTube sensation"? Is it weird at all?
Eli Lieb: I think it's close to eight now, every couple months there's another million [laughs]. There's definitely some weird stuff about it. Well, I shouldn't say weird, but just stuff to get used to. Having a lot of attention on you, online especially—people comment on your stuff all the time. But it's great because it's allowed me to have a career and has been a great platform for to then be able to expand from YouTube and do more of what I specifically want to do.
Since you moved back to Fairfield, have you ever found yourself thinking of moving back to New York, or anywhere else at all?
Not on a permanent basis, I am thinking of possibly having a place here just so I can come throughout the year and sort of do this side of the job. But, home base is definitely Iowa.
New York is great for this part of the industry. What can we expect from the new album?
It definitely still has the same electro-pop feel, but there is a little more acoustic stuff in there. I feel like it is just more, mature. I think as an artist you keep on evolving and growing and learning more, and I think that this album, I approached it in way were I knew a lot more than I did for the first album.
Photo By Leandro Justen
It's a mix. I've got stuff like this one song where it's basically just acoustic guitar, me, and some other strings, but I also have stuff like total pop songs with major beats. It's a broad spectrum.
How long have you been working on the second album?
Some people will write music and then decide, I'm going to go to the studio and I have two months to make and album. The way I work is, I just work until I have, let's say, 10 songs that I form into an album. Basically, when I finished my first album, that's when I started my second. Even if I take the whole two years in-between, the whole time I'm working on the next album because I'm constantly in the studio, constantly making more music. And then where there is enough content as whole, that's when the next album comes out.
When can we expect the album's release?
Hard to say, since there's a lot that goes into actually having it released. But I'll have it finished within the next couple of months. I would hope by the summer it would be released. But the music will be finished, the actual album to listen to be done soon. Going to make a music video for the leading single for the album in the next month or so.
You have many great covers on YouTube, who do you want to cover next?
I really have been liking Marina & the Diamonds lately, and I would be interested in covering one of her songs.
I'm a fan of hers too, any song in particular?
I like that song "Lies" a lot. I don't know if it became a single. It's a really good song.
Who else are you listening to, any YouTube channels?
I don't really go on YouTube past doing research. But other than Marina, I listen to her a lot now, Santigold. Her newest album, not sure if it is new, but it's new to me and I really like that one. I really listen to everything, things I like and things that I like the production of.
Because for me it is also more than pleasure of listening to music, it's also about learning what producers are doing and figure out, just by listening, how they're doing what they're doing.
How essential is social media for a new artist, and any artists today in general?
Social media is an enormous part of it now, everywhere you look. Not just everybody, everything now has a Twitter, Facebook page, Instagram—everything. Social media has become, I think, very essential, almost requirement for musicians, and anybody in the industry. Entertainment has evolved to that direction.
Anyone you currently want to collaborate with?
I guess I've been talking about her the whole time [laughs], but I would like to do a song with Marina & the Diamonds. I feel like our styles are actually kind of similar. The electro thing is there, but there's also songs you can just strip down and play just on the piano or guitar, so I really make a point of having melody be a strong point in a song, so it's not relying on all the thrills around it. I feel like she kind of does that as well, I think it would be a good combo.
In antipcation of Eli's next album, watch his latest covers below: