When she was growing up in Lake Placid, Lizzy Grant used to perform in choirs and school plays at St. Agnes and Lake Placid Middle/High School, and though she was still young, audiences could see she had the potential for a future in music.
"Even then you could tell that she had a very different and powerful sound, because she could mesmerize the entire audience even when she was little girl," said father Rob Grant.
Now 24 years old, Lizzy Grant is on her way. Earlier this month, she released her first professionally produced album, "Kill Kill," under the stage name Lana Del Ray on the label Five Points Records, and it is now available for purchase on iTunes and other Web sites.
Lizzy recorded the album with producer David Kahne, who has worked with well-known musicians from Paul McCartney, Cher and Bruce Springsteen to No Doubt, Guster and Matisyahu.
"He produced most of the major music groups that have come out of the last couple of decades, so she was very fortunate to get a producer of that world-class caliber," Rob said.
When she was recording, Lizzy even got to meet Paul McCartney. McCartney came with his son, James, to start working with Kahne on an album of his, and Lizzy decided she wanted to meet them. She knocked on the door, saw McCartney and waved to him.
"David's like, 'Oh my God,'" Lizzy said. "Paul didn't care."
Lizzy said she saw a toy piano that made what she called a "sparkly jewelry box sound" and said she wanted to use it for her album, but Kahne said she couldn't since it was already on McCartney's. When she made a face, McCartney tried to comfort her.
"He said, 'Don't pout, Lizzy, don't pout,'" Lizzy said. "'You'll find another instrument.'"
Grant said she worked with Kahne every day for about three months recording the 13-track album.
"We were pretty obsessive about it," she said.
Lizzy said she liked that Kahne quickly understood her vision.
She told him she wanted the album to be cinematic. She was also hoping it would reflect her affection for nostalgic things like Coney Island and black and white movies.
"He kind of got my whole vibe right away," she said.
That nostalgia, which often has an eerie tinge to it, is a big part of her vibe. The music videos she has posted on YouTube and MySpace are shot in the style of the '50s and '60s and include plenty of B-roll from that era.
The promotional photographs she posts on her Web sites and provides to the media highlight her platinum-blonde hair and mod-style makeup and feature washed out colors reminiscent of earlier decades.
Much of the nostalgia is heavy on Americana themes, including images of surfing, carnivals and Lizzy dressed as Marilyn Monroe or wearing an American flag and a military ball cap with U.S.A. embroidered on it.
Lizzy's music is difficult to place. Her heady, jazzy voice often sounds like a '50s nightclub singer, and the music at times is highlighted by heavy burlesque-style drumming and cascading wurlitzers.
There is also a modern element to much of it, though. Some songs verge on electronic beats, and her vocals sometimes slide into whispers and minor chords reminiscent of Courtney Love or Fiona Apple.
Grant's MySpace page describes her music as glam/surf/Hawaiian.
"It's been described as a very smoky and provocative kind of voice," her father said. "It kind of catches you off guard. It's not predictable."
The album has been getting some attention, including a review on the Huffington Post Web site and a two-page Q&A in Index Magazine.
"I'm glad I'm singing," Lizzy said. "I don't really know what else I would do."
She plays the guitar and the wurlitzer, but prefers to stick to singing when she's performing a concert because her hands get too nervous. She said she likes to have video of 1950s Las Vegas, Frank Sinatra and similar images to project onto the backdrop so the audience watches that instead of her.
Her venues vary from ballrooms to burlesque clubs to private parties.
She said she doesn't have a single type of costume when she plays a show. She'll vary from going all-out glam to wearing cutoff jean shorts and a white t-shirt.
"If I know it's mostly business people, I will specifically dress down just because I know that it makes the whole show more weird," Lizzy said.
She writes all her own music, and she said her lyrics tend to be a reflection on actual incidents in her life.
"There will be two true verses, then I'll make up the third; just rhyme it out," Grant said.
One of the most catchy songs on "Kill Kill," "Gramma (Blue Ribbon Sparkler Trailer Heaven)," is about a conversation she had with her grandmother, Cynthia Grant, who lives in Lake Placid.
Her father, who has a history in advertising and has been helping his daughter market her album, said it's very exciting to live vicariously through her.
"It's a girl from an upstate New York town who may be on the verge of something great,' he said.
For more information about Lizzy Grant, go to lizzygrant.com.
For a live stream of her music, go to www.myspace.com/lizzygrant.
To buy her album, search for it on iTunes, Amazon.com or www.cdbaby.com.
Contact Jessica Collier at 891-2600 ext. 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org.