EFFIE LIU: In Conversation
By Justin Swanson
Effie Liu is the real deal: an eclectic pop songstress committed to her vision, and an avid business woman who understands the game.
She grew up in California, where her creative spirit first blossomed. Now she lives in Brooklyn, a stark pink contrast against the music scene she is very much becoming a leader of.
We met up at Brewery Recording Studio in Williamsburg to discuss her past, present, and future.
She had just finished up a press photoshoot, and was in full regalia: pale pink fur coat, metallic leggings, heels, and of course, her staple pink hair.
Main topics of discussion? Music and style. For Effie, one cannot exist without the other.
So, how important are visuals to you in your music?
“I’ve been a visual person since an early age, ever since I could pick up a marker to draw with. I also studied fashion design back in Los Angeles.”
How did you end up in New York?
“When I lived in LA, I became the muse of a luxury shoe designer, and then one day, they asked me to be a fulltime assistant to them in New York.” After her design stint, she decided to take a break from the fashion industry, and focus solely on her music career.
So why pink? What does it mean to you and why is it such a consistent color in your aesthetic and artisty?
“Well, there are three main parts to that story. Are you ready?!
Okay! So first, the color pink had a lot of significance in my childhood. When I was really young, I remember my parents painting the walls of my room pink. I hated it!” Later on, she was listening to a lot of punk rock, and while vintage shopping, found an amazing skirt. “It was plaid. But the colors were unique. It was black and hot pink.” To Effie, this unusual combination of colors symbolized a rebellion against the standard plaid garbed punk. Pink was a traditionally feminine color, but when combined with the starkness of black, it took on a whole new meaning. Also pink and black just look great together. She started basing her whole wardrobe around this one pink and black plaid skirt.
Fast forward to a few years ago: Effie is in a salon with her hair stylist and best friend, and she’s talking about how she is tired of her blonde hair. Effie wants a change. Something new. Her best friend’s response? Whip out a bucket of hot pink dye, and start applying it... without asking Effie. That’s what friends are for.
As for the hair color? “People tell me that it really suits me.” And it does. In a way, it’s like her natural hair color.
Her style, and her hair, are the embodiment of her music: Embrace your individuality, and celebrate what makes you, you.
What are your musical influences, and what message do you want to push with your current and future music?
“When I first got to New York, I ended up vibing with the with people in the rap scene. The beats in rap music just make you want to move.” This feeling of positivity is something Effie wants to spread with both her sound and her lyrics.
Her single, “Wings on Fleek”, a girly anthem about eyeliner, features monochrome color palettes, an army of pink haired badass chicks, and appropriate representation of the LGBT community. “Wings on Fleek” is a celebration of the ritualistic process of many women when getting ready to go out. Effie states, "in the music industry, and in our culture, many women often treat each other badly”, and she wants to celebrate the bond that women share through their femininity.
What can we expect to hear in your new music?
“More pop songs… and more singing, compared to some of my older songs, like 'Gimme All Your Money'.” There will still be that element of individuality in Effie’s new music, but it will be songs that everyone can relate too.
Effie’s most recent single is an example of that. “Get Away” is a tropical island infused swig of pop that mixes breezy vocals and balearic bounce before going down smooth like an island breeze fated to take you away.
In the age we live in, where technology and social media are so prevalent, how do you approach this digital medium as an up-and-coming artist?
“Consistency!” In image, message, and sound. In a way, it’s like making a cake. “You need to create a consistent batter, with all of the right ingredients, and pink frosting, of course. The internet is amazing because today anyone can express themselves and get their message directly to people that care out there.” Although the internet and our culture are saturated with information, according to Effie, “realness” will still show through.
Now more than ever, branding and commercialization of all aspects of our lives are occurring. In response to this, authenticity in one’s message is valued by our society, which is exactly what makes Effie’s music, and broader artistic vision, so outstanding.
In a sense, Effie is still like that vintage pink plaid skirt; although she has her roots in a deeper historical dialogue, there is a freshness and sense of individuality in Effie’s music and image that sets her apart from the rest. She is a genuine person, with a genuine message, and a genuine desire to celebrate life. "At the end of the day," says Effie, "it’s about making people feel good."
Hair: Brittany White
Make Up: Michael Anthony
Nails: Jess Tong
Stylist: Raytell Bridges