Jezebel Quickies is a new video series in which we get to know our favorite dynamic musicians, artists, actors and other creatives in a snap amount of time.
Liz (first name only) is a born and raised Valley girl (Tarzana!) who’s spent the better part of the last two years dropping glossy pop tracks with a hint of throwback—huge and dreamy hooks, a well-worn Britney Spears obsession, healthy Timbaland love, et cetera.
Notoriously discovered as an artist by Diplo after literally barfing on him with a seasick stomach (god bless), she’s been immersed in the pop world since she was 13 years old, writing for other artists and, in the last two years, developing her own work that values immutable pop hooks and structure above anything else. Last year, she released an EP called Just Like You, purposefully meant to invoke the velvety modes of turn-of-the-millennium R&B, with a little ‘96 thrown in—Jermaine Dupri’s hallowed Rhythm & Quad world is more than a little bit of a touchstone here—as well as “That’s My Man,” a collaboration with Pharrell for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 soundtrack.
Recently, Liz released “When I Rule the World,” an Aqua-invoking, impossibly catchy pop song that features Liz sing-talking about her future as the queen of the world, which involves making a dude clean some shit and unapologetically embracing things associated with “girlieness”—a rainbow of pinks, mini-backpacks, stuffed animals sculptures, and actual 12-year-olds for back-up dancers. While not explicit, the video serves as a kind of commentary on the tendency of people (dudes) to dismiss pop music out of hand, which of course comes with an underlying vein of misogyny, as pop music is the genre where women have been allowed historically to flourish most. Beyond that, though, it’s just a candy cane of a jam: explosive, bubblegummy, the kind of song you really want to hear on the PA of a Claire’s, the kind of song that makes you turn up the volume when it comes on Z-100 (the pop radio station where, incidentally, Liz was headed after she visited the Jezebel offices).
Sophie produced “When I Rule the World”—his tweaker’s take on early 2000s, hyper-processed pop music started as a something of a conceptual art project, but quickly developed into a Koonsian fever dream of commentary-turned-culture after he co-wrote a Madonna song and landed in a McDonald’s commercial. Aqua’s “Barbie Girl” is obviously a touchstone, represents a platonic ideal for much of PC Music, vocals heliumized and blown out—also philosophically defying the rockist idea of pop music as a fake, manufactured construct by elevating those qualities as the purest aesthetic to aspire to. Again, Koons is not that far off—Sophie and PC Music commenting on pop culture by crafting the most vapid possible interpretation of it. “Wrapped in plastic,” says Aqua. “It’s fantastic.” QT, the mannequin-like model/soft drink shill/pop-techno project conceptualized by Sophie and AG Cook, is PC Music’s Barbie Girl incarnate.
Liz, in turn, elevates PC Music to what it aspires to most. Earlier in his career, Sophie was accused of being cynical and possibly misogynist for using a woman’s name and anonymous women’s faces to front his projects (at best, it’s a type of drag). In this song, with Liz at the forefront—a pop songwriter with an aesthetic squarely in the Spice Girls vein of you-do-you women empowerment—its postmodern vision is realized. There might be some irony to what Liz is doing, but as Jezebel’s interview with her showed, she simply grew up on this shit, is fully dedicated to the aesthetic, and is not above making songs some of us are dying to jam out to with our girlfriends. (The first time I heard “When I Rule the World” I was skeptical; by the third time, it had lodged itself in my brain and I really wanted to have a slumber party. It’s impossible to imagine a person not having a visceral reaction to it, whether positive or negative.)
In the above interview, the first in Jezebel’s Quickies series, Liz discussed peoples’ dismissiveness of pop music, collaborating with Diplo and Sophie, and volunteering at a chihuahua shelter in her capacity as an animal rights champion. Liz’s forthcoming EP will be out sometime this fall on Mad Decent/Columbia Records.