liv cartier talks changing directions and making dark pop

She’s got looks that could kill (but don’t worry that’s just a persona) underneath it all Liv Cartier aka Liv Weston is very down to earth. 

I’m sat in Cafe Kino waiting for Liv when I look up, only to realise she’s been sat on the table across from me since I arrived. By the time I make a move to gather my stuff she’s already plonked herself in the chair opposite me, ready to get stuck in. We pretty much burst straight into conversation about Liv’s upcoming release. She’s clearly feeling all the emotions, from anguish to excitement but she’s no stranger to self releasing. Having performed as the leading lady of indie rock band Sinclair since 2018 her solo venture takes her down a more personal route giving her the freedom to be more decisive.

“I love having the band as much as I love getting my own way. I always felt that I wanted to steer Sinclair down more of a pop route but that just wasn’t reflected in our writing, or anything we were doing. So I decided to start a separate project where I could explore this darker pop side and Liv Cartier was created. I have so many weird ideas and maybe sometimes they’re a bit too out there you know. It’s so nice having a band, we are like a family but with Liv Cartier I don’t have to run any ideas/visuals past anyone. Now I just do it, and I always know best. Although, now I just have to commit to any ideas without anyone else’s input which can be stressful!”

Liv’s first single IDWY (just can’t be alone) was released in February with a music video to follow a couple of weeks later. The song is about “playing with something till you kill it” but don’t worry Liv assures me she hasn’t actually ever done that… Behind her slightly psychotic lyrics and tendency to exaggerate, Liv manipulates words using metaphor and imagination.

“Whenever I’ve got this relationship, or failed relationship situation I’ve been in I always try and take it to the extremes, to write something cooler so there’s visuals in there that you just wouldn’t associate with a relationship. Like the first lyric in IDWY is ‘Thought i’d keep you laying face down between my grill’ not exactly what you expect from a relationship song.”

IDWY is evocative, it’s sensual, it’s far fetched yet so relatable and perfectly balances moments of punching bass with spine tingling vocals. The video Liv move through the thought processes and feelings of a failed relationship, portraying the constant conflicts she had with herself. As her debut video there was a lot of pressure to make sure the first appearance of Liv Cartier was on point. “I wanted to make audience feel unsure of who Liv Cartier is, whether she’s a good time gal or if she’s going to burn the house down.”

Directed and produced by Sarah Garrett and Conor Hall the push pull theme Guy Britton so beautifully created for the track has been mimicked seamlessly with a thoughtful edit. “We had a really good team for the video, we all put in for this crazy apartment that I felt way too poor to act like I lived in. We ended up just getting an air bnb which worked so perfectly for what we wanted.”

Liv’s vision for the video was executed so well, it’s hard to believe it was her first showcase as Liv Cartier. She’s already thinking about the next video, stirring up new ideas and ways to express herself and I’m excited to see what happens next. I wanted to find out a little bit more about how Liv creates her music, from writing the lyrics, to finding the right sounds and producing the track. 

“I found out I’m actually really bad at articulating what I want to say. I’ve been in sessions before where i’ve been like ‘I want it to sound like it’s in a bracket’ and obviously the producer is like I have no idea what that means…. In my head everything’s ready to go but I do like having some input and have people push my ideas further, like just do what you want and I’ll tell you if I don’t like it.”

Despite Liv’s self confessed inability to convey her ideas, Guy Britton who produced IDWY got it just right. The beat is crisp and clean and it’s resonating sub bass solidifies the track in it’s dark pop groove. Add Liv’s incredible vocal range, covering deep bassy tones in the verses and haunting highs in the chorus, you can really hear where she gets her inspiration from.

Being a writer, I find lyrics fascinating in how you can say so little and make it mean so many different things to people. I asked Liv about who influences her writing and thought it was interesting that she made a distinction between those who influence her lyrics and those who influence her sound. From Stevie Nicks to Billie Eilish and Kojey Radical, Liv’s inspirations aren’t confined to a decade, genre or gender.

“The people that I sound like and the people that I take inspiration from are so different. I love the way Kojey Radical writes, he just gets it. Obviously Stevie Nicks I love her with my whole heart. Keaton Henson is another writer I love because of how he makes people feel and his use of pet names that just kills it. But in terms of who I sound like, probably Banks, Bülow and Billie Eilish etc…”

Before i’d heard of Liv Cartier or Sinclair for that matter, I recognised Liv from several Wild Thing campaigns – the one stop festival fashion shop. In so many ways, singing, acting and modelling are so alike I asked Liv how she got into it and how it’s helped shape her music career.

“I did a lot of modelling stuff at uni shooting for festivals brands and I met so many amazing people through Instagram. Now I feel like I’m in a really fortunate position because I know photographers and graphic designers so when I have project ideas I’ve got people to go to. It’s really helped with the band too, especially directing the boys on photoshoots. I always tell them, if it feels natural it probably doesn’t look it on camera, over pose!”

IG has become a tool so many up-and-coming musicians use, but in recent years it has become a daily battle against the dreaded algorithms to be visible and have your content seen/heard. We started talking about Instagram when it first began, reminiscing on how innocent it was just as a photo sharing platform. In the last 10 years IG has revolutionised how social media can be used to grow your business, brand and band so I asked Liv what her thoughts on IG are…

“I have a bit of a love hate relationship with IG. I love it because I need it and it is a good, free marketing platform. But I hate that the algorithms fuck you over a bit cause they’re always prioritise the already popular. When I first started using it, it was just about sharing cool photos but now it’s more about selling a product, selling a lifestyle or selling a dream…”

For all the negativity IG brings surrounding algorithms and followers, Liv does recognise how important it is to have a platform that can be used to share progress, to share behind the scenes and show fans and followers the final product doesn’t just happen overnight. “It’s like a window into your life where it doesn’t have to all be polished.”

Although you may have to wait a little longer now to catch Liv at a live show, these next few weeks or months of isolation are the perfect time to write, create and get that second single (or an EP?!) off the ground. This is an incredibly difficult time for artists but if you can show your support through buying the track, giving Liv a follow or shouting about Liv Cartier from the rooftops. 



Photos by Hannah Rooke – @hannahlisaphotography

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