Take a name like Lizzy Grant, add a beautiful face and a platinum blonde head of hair, and you have the ingredients for the quintessential pop star.
But here's the hitch. While the Lake Placid native and burgeoning New York City scene performer may look the part of the pop star primed for a spot on stage with Simon Cowell and his "American Idol" cohorts, her look is the only thing that actually fits the mold - though she admits that route wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing.
"The thing is, in a way, I wish I could be like a Britney Spears. It would be easier to make music like that, and it's good music," Grant said in a recent interview with the Weekender, "but it's just not as fun."
Lizzy Grant or Lana Rey Del Mar? How about both? As Grant was advised, it's always good to have a pseudonym.
Neither, apparently, is her name. For a while, Grant was operating under the pseudonym Lana Rey Del Mar because, she said, "I always wanted a different name, and some people said it would be good to come up with something in case I ever wanted to use it."
The fact is, both names work, but for different reasons. Lana Rey Del Mar seems to conjure the image of a glitzy 1950s Hollywood star or a smokey jazz club singer. Take a look at her music videos on YouTube, and you'll see how the name fits. With grainy and somewhat drab shots of Grant in various garb dancing and singing, spliced with old Hollywood cuts, the mood is akin to David Lynch's opening sequence in "Blue Velvet," where a seemingly wholesome and innocent facade is undercut with a sense of uneasiness.
The name Lizzy Grant works similarly because it's so disarming in a way. Without a listen and only a look, the listener (or onlooker in the case of her videos or live shows) might expect a bubbly performance with a catchy synthesizer riff. Instead, you're treated to a lyrical sensibility and vocal delivery that seems to be simultaneously fragile and sultry, but direct, determined and well poised.
The name of her EP, "Kill Kill," released in October, only adds to the realization that what you see on the surface, and what you may expect, isn't what you're going to get. Grant's sound is at times spooky and on edge. At other times, it seems soft, mellow and sure. It's like being in a county fair funhouse.
Still, some reviewers may have missed the mark a bit in describing Grant and her music with words like "sinister" and "disturbing," especially since Grant said that wasn't necessarily her intent.
"I can't say I'm shocked, but I can't say that's what I was going for," she said. "Deep down, I consider them pretty standard love songs."
In fact, the title track off her EP was originally called "The Ocean," but upon showing it to a record producer, who lambasted the title as boring, Grant said she went home, crossed it out and, in a bit of frustration, wrote "Kill Kill" above the lyrics.
Nevertheless, at their core, there is a bit of ambiguity in her lyrics that lend themselves to interpretation, which is the hallmark of a good songwriter. If she's to be labeled anything, that would be a good start, and her latest release is evidence of that. The tracks on "Kill Kill" seem simple, but polished, and have a sort of carnival feel to them. While the EP is just a few tracks, it has just enough on it to keep the listener satisfied yet wanting more.
"I'm always waiting for a good song to come along, and it usually happens when I'm struck by something I see that I like," Grant said of her approach to songwriting. "If it's beautiful enough to me, the words and melody come pretty quickly."
For Grant, it's been a long, somewhat meandering journey from the streets of Lake Placid to a New Jersey trailer park and the bars and clubs of New York, but she's beginning to make a name for herself.
On the heels of "Kill Kill," it's time to move ahead.
"People keep telling me to just keep playing shows, but that only seems to work if you have people already watching you and following you," she said, which is where her online video posts seem to work best.
Using those two mediums in tandem, she said, is something she plans to continue.
"At this rate, I can tell you I have no idea what the future holds," she said. "I guess I'll keep playing shows and making videos and, little by little, you hope more and more people get involved."
For more on Grant, visit www.lizzygrant.com.