Singer-songwriter Lisa Loeb recently performed at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, but she wasn’t there to promote her new album “No Fairy Tale” — or to sing her 1994 #1 hit song “Stay” — but to play on the kids’ stage.
Loeb started working on children’s music in 2003 alongside her singer-songwriter work and has a new book with accompanying CD out, "Lisa Loeb's Songs for Moving and Shaking." She continues to embrace the dual genres.
“Making kids music and grown-up music, in some ways, they’re totally the same, because they come from imagination, they come from telling stories.”
She recorded most of her kids’ music before she had kids herself, but now has a 3-year-old and an 11-month-old. Loeb says she’s still trying to figure out how to tour now that she’s raising kids here in L.A.
“Touring is tough with kids. You know, I don’t love leaving my kids at home for any period of time at all. But I don’t put out records all the time, so I’m trying to do short spurts of touring.”
Being away for long periods of time isn’t something Loeb’s particularly excited about.
“I don’t like coming home and my kids, their faces have changed. I don’t like that. I like being at home with them.”
Loeb’s lived all over, growing up in Dallas and living in New York before settling in L.A. and raising children here with her husband, a music production supervisor for “Conan.”
“My husband and I always thought we’d raise kids in New York,” Loeb said. “L.A., Dallas and New York are very different places, although L.A. does have this suburban element that Dallas did, which I’m very familiar with. But it does have an urban feel as well. Coming from New York, [L.A.’s] sort of secretly a city.”
Loeb’s started to get used to L.A. and see its benefits for raising a family.
“L.A. has a lot of space, the weather is really great, it’s easy — there’s a lot of things to do outside, which is important, from hiking to going to the beach. We don’t always do those things, but there are a lot of things to do with kids. It’s an easy place to live — other than being scared of earthquakes.”
You may also know Loeb from her run as a reality TV star, with shows including the Food Network’s “Dweezil & Lisa,” as well as “Number 1 Single” about her search for someone to start a family with alongside her career success.
She also has at least one more love outside of music — public radio. (We’re blushing.)
“I love listening to the radio. I especially listen, out of all the public radio stations, probably the one I listen to the most is KPCC, because it has a lot of talk on it, and a lot of people sharing their ideas, telling me about what’s going on in the world.”
Going forward, Loeb wants to keep doing music for kids, inspired largely by what she’s seen when performing.
“I have some plans to make some more kids music that’s even more simple. Because I didn’t realize that some of the songs that I would play live that I’d get requests for, like the ABCs or ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,’ it felt kind of silly doing those songs, but actually those are the best. Those are the greatest hits for kids.”
Even as she makes plans for herself, Loeb’s cautiously optimistic about the future of the music industry.
“In some ways, the music industry has gotten easier, because it’s expected for people to be independent, and independent thinkers, and I’ve always been a very independent artist — from the very beginning I didn’t even have a label.” (Loeb’s hit song “Stay” topped the charts before she was signed to a label.)
Loeb attributes her continued career to being able to find success in a variety of areas, from acting (she appeared on the series finale of “Gossip Girl”) to selling a line of her trademark fashion accessory — glasses. She’s still looking to move forward in every area of her life and career.
“Having had huge successes and having had other projects that might not have been as successful but were satisfying to me, and some projects which weren’t satisfying at all in any way … I’m always able to find a lot of things that make me want to continue working. Longevity is a strange sign of success.”
“No Fairy Tale”: