Lizzy Campbell’s love of singing and performing began at a very young age. Now a sophomore at UNC, she recently released her fourth EP on SoundCloud.
Growing up in Raleigh, she performed with the Live on Stage program through the North Carolina Theatre Conservatory and joined her school choir in the fifth grade, which she stayed in throughout high school. She also practiced her choir skills at the Governor’s School of North Carolina.
“The original dream was to be on Broadway, per any child's dream,” Campbell said.
While Campbell said she had been singing pretty much her whole life, she said she only started taking her songwriting seriously during her junior year of high school.
“When I'm writing a song, I’m writing it for myself,” Campbell said. “I’m writing to try and make some sort of feeling tangible where I can look back at it later and be like ‘Yes, that is exactly how I was feeling at that point in time.'”
Campbell said writing her own songs is like an audio diary for her.
“Being able to listen to a song and remember exactly where I wrote it, how old I was, what it was about, it’s a cool thing that other people like to listen to it,” Campbell said.
One of her first steps in the songwriting process is choosing what instrument to play. Campbell said she chooses from the piano, guitar and ukulele and is currently learning to play the mandolin.
“It’s usually like a vibes thing where happy ones are going to be on ukulele and things that feel more heavy tend to be on guitar, or piano is one for more emotional stuff,” Campbell said.
All of the music she records are her original instrumentals and lyrics.
“The first thing I do is find the chord progression,” Campbell said. “Start with one chord and it’ll build on itself based on what emotion you're trying to convey.”
Campbell said the words always have been and will be the most important part to her.
“If I have a melody that I like, I’m going to pour all of my energy into the lyrics, making sure that they are the prime focus of the song,” Campbell said.
In May 2017, Campbell said she taught herself how to record her lyrics with harmonies and released her first EP.
“It was definitely a big deal for me when I released my first EP,” Campbell said. “I was a junior, junior year is notoriously the worst year of high school and so to have the last month of school for me feel so much lighter because I had accomplished something I’d been dreaming of was such a cool thing.”
Campbell continued to sing recreationally when she arrived at UNC.
“Fall semester of my freshmen year I auditioned for two groups, including Tar Heel Voices, and I didn't get into either of them and I was so bummed out,” Campbell said.
After the audition, Campbell said a friend from Tar Heel Voices reached out to say what a great audition she had and encouraged her to try again.
“Because they reached out, I auditioned again my second semester of my freshman year and was lucky enough to get in,” Campbell said.
Campbell said since joining the group, she feels her music has a lot more meaning behind it and has more melodic depth.
“I have 15 other people who are encouraging me to push myself to be my best and to tell me that I'm better than I think I am because I get in my head so much,” Campbell said.
Now in the spring of her sophomore year, Campbell has released her latest EP, "Suggestion Box." She completed the project after having more free time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“'Suggestion Box' was kind of like my quarantine passion project,” Campbell said.
Three of the six songs on the EP were written throughout the school year. Campbell said the other three are more important to the narrative of the title.
“When I sat down earlier this year knowing I was going to release another EP at the end of the year, I didn't know what to write,” Campbell said. “I was totally in a creative block because my time was being so devoted elsewhere I didn't have time to write.”
Campbell sent out a Google Form to her friends to submit three random words and a chord she had to use. They also chose between a “cute love song, sad bop or folky jam."
“The first song on the EP is called 'Butterscotch Brownies,' and one of the words that was given to me for that one was butterscotch,” Campbell said. “There’s not a lot of meaning behind it, it's just kind of a fun love song.”
The second song within the EP is titled "burnt red."
“I had been needing to write a song about this feeling of longing and loneliness,” Campbell said. “I had these three words to use, candle, tree and bridge. As soon as I had the first line written the rest of the song just kind of fell into place."
The closing song is titled "Amidst the Chaos." Campbell said her friend, Zoe Lord, who loves folky songs, gave her the words lips, beer and paint to use.
“When I started playing this folky vibe chord, I knew immediately that I wanted to write about the situation that was all kind of in right now,” Campbell said, “There’s this weird feeling of being quarantined and news reports keep getting worse and none of us know what's going on and none of us will know when this is gonna end.”
Campbell said the last song was something she didn't know she needed to write until she started writing it.
“It has the most meaning out of all of them because I think we can all relate to it,” Campbell said. “It’s not a teenage heartbreak or a college girl giddy in love, it’s a song about none of us knowing what's going on right now.”
Campbell said she has no intention of pursuing music or songwriting as a future career.
“I’m just going to write when I need to and record when I want to. Songs write themselves sometimes and I just have to wait for them,” Campbell said.
Faith Jones is a senior music director for Tar Heel Voices, which is where she met Campbell.
“Something that I've noticed is how Lizzy takes leadership in her music, and I think any person that takes leadership in their music, that will help them grow as a musician,” Jones said.
Jones said as a music director, she is always giving feedback in and out of rehearsal and Campbell receives it well, always seeking to improve.
“She used to have a tendency to perform more for herself, to close her eyes, now she opens her eyes a lot more and is a better communicator as a musician,” Jones said.
Lord met Campbell her first year at UNC through a mutual friend and then they bonded, creating a student television show together.
“Growing creatively and having creative ideas and allowing other people to help her out is where I’ve seen her grow the most," Lord said.
Lord was a part of the Google Form Campbell sent out and had contributed to the idea for "Amidst the Chaos," but said her favorite song on the EP is "Butterscotch Brownies."
“She has some of my favorite lyrics of any song I've ever listened to,” Lord said.
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