Sas Liska releases new EP, finds creative center
Roughly five minutes into our meeting at her West A St studio, Sas Liska is waxing about its productive yet scattered history.
By third gaze around the Lincoln-based singer/songwriter’s warmly lit storage unit — both the “Sas Cave” and “Craft Factory” — it’s clear by the artifacts lining the walls and filling the corners that she’s serious. Window displays and facial art samples dot the room, left from her summer travels as a carnival face painter. A drum kit rests by the door. An upright piano flanks the circle of furniture in which we currently sit.
“It reminds me that we’re supposed to be practicing,” Liska says. “I have all these things that face me all the time and convince me to stay focused on the music.”
And it’s not that Liska isn’t aware of how disorganized it might seem, even though there’s more rhyme to things than at first glance. It’s that she’s only recently found a way to stop compartmentalizing her interests — art, collaboration and music — and let them flow freely into one another
“I’ve been looking for a way to merge all my worlds together, and I’m finally figuring out how to connect everything to one thing,” Liska says.
Her Rarities EP is the product of that focus, yet its pieces owe themselves to misdirection. The three song folk/pop record is an exercise in groping for the ground in the dark, seeking stability or watching a relationship fall apart while coping with confusion, hesitation and loneliness.
She’ll release it tomorrow night at Zoo Bar with Phoebe Dro, Lotus Leaves and Once A Pawn (RSVP here). Liska will be joined by the Final Arrangement, the band comprising drummer Chris Johnson, guitarist Jim Rhian, keyboard player Mike Rhian and bassist Robert Specht (“I Forgot To Love the Arrangement,” she playfully calls it).
Whether the moments have passed or are still too painful, she calls them rarities for a reason. She cites weird tunings, laziness or incompletion, but it feels more like a desire to lay them to rest.
“I really wanted them to be a time capsule, these songs,” Liska says. “True to the way they were recorded and they way they were being felt. I grew attached to those versions.”
The conversation turns to a hypothetical about filming a public access late night talk show — a la Wayne’s World — and she’s positive she doesn’t want to be the host. The craft factory would never be on network television, but that isn’t her thing. Instead of being the center of outside attention, she’d rather focus on finding the center of hers.
The biggest challenge in that regard is during performance, where Liska says she tries to push the limits within reason. Rehearsal is comfortable in her safe space, but as she observes, music is a fluid artform that can escape her onstage.
“I can rehearse and rehearse in here and get it perfect, but this is my space,” Liska says. “The environment affects me. I don’t know if the audience would notice, but it’s not [always] the ideal performance.”
That’s quite a lofty ideal to strive for, if not a notion that she trumps completely herself. No matter: after Rarities is played and buried, she plans to move to the next batch, finally feeling ready to channel her energy into exploration.
When she talks about itching to get out of town and her fondness for new experiences, she’s quick to clarify: it’s nice to have a place to come back to. It seems like newness is okay in structure and familiarity, which isn’t a surprise given how she’s surrounded herself in her studio, and onstage with some of those same totems.
“I’m trying to bungee jump,” she says. “But I need an extra net.”
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Tonight, the Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards showcase will takeover the Benson main drag, encompassing seven venues with more than 40 total bands. See our show preview and full schedule in yesterday’s news here. RSVP here.
Across town, O’Leaver’s hosts a trio of Omaha bands in HEALER, Maps for Travelers and Mint Wad Wally. RSVP here.
And in Lincoln, Oddisee plays Vega with Good Company and Lincoln’s Mesonjixx. The Washington D.C. rapper released his fifth full-length album The Good Fight May 5. He counts Rakim and A Tribe Called Quest among his influences. RSVP to the 9 p.m. show here.
As always, head to our statewide calendar at hearnebraska.org/events for a fuller listing of shows. If you do not see your show or one you plan to attend, email us at email@example.com, or add it yourself. And keep those song submissions, story ideas and news tips coming.