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Elizabeth Grenades: Mystery and Rebellion Profiled by Bret Jensen

ROCK NYC  interviews Love Grenades lead singer Elizabeth Wight at a coffee shop in the West Village. Bret Jensen orders tea for one…

It’s Halloween night at the 3rd Ward in Brooklyn and someone just figured out how to open the old warehouse’s windows. It’s a damned good thing. It’s about eighty-five degrees and everyone in the room is wearing layers of elaborate and expensive references to Generation Y Americana. As if a dance floor wasn’t already a place to be a sexier and more mysterious version of themselves, everyone is in suggestive costume.

If the sweaty 300-style Spartan looking lustily at Liz Grenades on stage doesn’t take her for an old soul, he can’t be blamed. Neither can the Alex DeLarge standing next to him, who looks more interested in getting a hold of her than hearing her deceptively thoughtful lyrics.

We’re witnessing the sort of Los Angeles paradox universally loved and reviled. There’s a lot of depth and meaning to dig into – if only we could get past the sexy girl on stage singing to the unassailably catchy beat.

I sat down with Liz Grenades (her birth certificate says “Wight”) and  Rock NYC editor/writer Iman Lababedi in the West Village that morning for a chat. Whereas the writers drank coffee, Liz drank tea, and it was a fitting choice for a self-removed Marquess of LA music royalty.

She comes from a family of musicians, and her mother can even be spotted on YouTube with a young Michael Damian playing for The Weirz, one of the first bands to make use of the modern music video. Few coming-of-age stories are easily summarized, though. Liz became independent of her parents early in her teen years. She refers vaguely to seeing much drug use in musical LA. Her music is filled with references to heartbreak and misery, and the newfound clarity they bring.

Not all is vinegar, though. She pours a tablespoon of honey into her tea and talks of her adolescence in LA with no fondness lost. “The LA music scene was like my church”, she says, “I felt accepted there. There was no judgment and I could just dance with my peers.”

It seems not entirely a stretch to think that her youth as a parishioner of LA’s music clubs wasn’t in contrast to her childhood, listening to her grandmother play Debussy’s Claire de Lune on violin. “Near the end of the song where the violin fades out, and it’s just the piano going up… I bawl every time.” The movement name is French for “moonlight”, and it does seem her milieu.

As things in LA seem to go, it was a chance meeting with DJ Sam Sparro over coffee-related employment that got Liz her real start. “Everyone starts out with punk and heavy metal”, she muses. “Dance music just seems a good way to get to as many people as possible.” So Love Grenades was conceived, and her self-described form of “Punk Dance” has been a real hit in LA.

While “Tigers in the Fire” doesn’t sound like the tale of heartache and breakup that Liz claims, it certainly sounds like what a heartbroken guy might hear. “I can do anything that I like / I can screw anyone that’s nice, then walk away.” Each time the line is sung; she throws up a hitchhiker’s thumb, and drops her hips. It makes a guy wonder if he’s receiving dismissal or if it’s a façade for real pain… but you know you won’t find out. You’re dismissed.

If still waters run deep, is this barefoot girl, bounding and bending – hitting the high notes you didn’t know were in her vocal range, and diving to surf the crowd… shallow? Well, you aren’t finding Love Grenades in any philosophy textbooks… it IS dance music. However, Liz claims her favorite songwriting inspiration is that old standby – heartbreak.

“It’s like, once you’ve been with someone for a certain amount of time, you just lose yourself. And then it’s gone, and the skies clear and you see who you were. It’s kind of just like at that point, I can sit down and write exactly what I’m feeling.”

After tears and introspection – after building songs from the ground up in her bedroom – how does an intensely pretty girl take depth of meaning into a venue and communicate it to people who are there to dance? I don’t know if I can say that she wants to. She isn’t giving a quiz, she just wants you to dance.

So the crowd at 3rd Ward dances. It is Halloween, and no one is supposed to be themselves anyway. Baring your soul never equated to dance floor sex appeal. Mystery and rebellion always have. Liz has a good dose of both.

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