Celtic Roots (Profiles in Canadian Celtic Music): Lizzy Hoyt

by Krlmagi

I talk to Lizzy Hoyt about how she writes songs, her musical inspirations and how she's continuously pushing her musical boundaries to grow as an artist.

Having parents who were professional musicians meant Lizzy Hoyt was constantly immersed in music and her passion for music grew out of that immersion. She explains, "I started taking music lessons when I was four. I was dying to learn the violin and I was so excited until I realized that I couldn't just pick up the instrument and play it like all of the professional musicians that would come over to our house. I discovered that I needed to practice and I was a little disappointed by that. I took music lessons until I was about 15. When I stopped taking lessons, I landed my first gig working as a fiddle player in Eli Barsi’s band."

Lizzy Hoyt
Lizzy Hoyt

She continues, "Eli played Western roots music, old cowboy music and commercial country. I worked with her for ten years as her fiddle and mandolin player. Eventually it became clear to me that I could to do my own show and share my own music with people. I started writing, I put my own group together and started to book my own gigs."

Lizzy also did an undergraduate degree and enjoyed it, but she ultimately reached the conclusion that music was the path she had to take in life.

The music that Lizzy creates has its basis in traditional Celtic music. She says, "I've always responded to the intensity of that style of music. I respond to the liveliness of the music and the story telling aspect of it. I've learned a lot of traditional fiddle tunes and songs, so I still include some traditional elements in my shows. Celtic music is the perfect vehicle for me to share some of my own stories and come up with new music."

Songwriting is something that she does when the inspiration strikes her. Lizzy says, "I get a feeling that it's the right time to sit down and write. Often I get an idea for a melody based on a few words. Once I have the music started, I try to finalize the melody and I’ll finish the lyrics afterwards. After that, I edit and edit the song. It takes a long while for me to find the right wording or the best way that the words can match the melody."

One of the challenges that Lizzy cites as a musician is dealing with the misconception that musicians don't work hard. She says, "I run a small business and I've invested lot of time, money and planning into it. I find it discouraging when people minimize what we do as musicians."

Another challenge is learning to deal with rejection. Lizzy says, "Artists deal with a lot of rejection. It's easy to look at my tour page and be like, ‘Wow! She gets so many gigs' but I may have contacted ten places and only had one get back to me. I've come to understand that it often isn't personal. Maybe they already had a really great fiddle player come through in the last year, so they don't want another one."

There is a heartening diversity to the folk/roots music scene in her opinion. Lizzy says, "It's exciting to think that there are so many people in Canada coming up with that much creative music - especially seeing that we don’t have the biggest population. I would say it's a very healthy community in Canada. We've got folk festivals across the country that are huge and have that incredible diversity again."

The approach that Lizzy takes to recorded music balances between reproducing her live show and creating a more layered sound. She says, "I'm not just walking into the studio with my trio that I tour with live and doing exactly what we'd do in a show. But unlike more commercial music I don’t auto-tune everything and line everything up perfectly to a click track. I am somewhere in between those extremes."

She adds, "In the studio, if I want to have both mandolin and fiddle on a track, I can do that. In a live show, I wouldn't be able to have both of them. In that way, I get to take my creativity a little bit further in the studio. Having said that, I don't want my album to sound completely different than my live shows. I want people to buy my album and feel like they're hearing something similar to what they heard in my show."

Right now, she's just starting to consider her next musical project. She explains, "Over the last 10 years of setting up my career, I have spent so much time in front of my computer. Now, I'm focusing more on being an artist. I'm taking singing lessons and working into some classical music. I'm trying to extend my boundaries as an artist so that I feel like I'm still growing and still learning. I want to do a project that I am excited about and one that stretches my skills."

Music is something that Lizzy feels she needs in her life. She points out, "One of the reasons I wanted to do music as my career is that I felt I couldn't keep myself from making music. In many ways, I wish I could do something else but I have such a strong feeling that this is what I'm supposed to do. I need to do it. A friend of mine who is a pianist was saying that she finds it helpful to separate herself from her music and feel that she's a good person even if she has a bad day playing. I don't think I've ever separated myself from music because it's such an integral part of my existence."

For more information on Lizzy and her music, please visit her website here.

This profile is based on a telephone interview with Lizzy Hoyt conducted and recorded on Feb. 1st, 2017.

Updated: 02/05/2017, Krlmagi
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