Multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter Lisa Crawley is most at home behind the piano, whether she's performing in music venues, jazz lounges, hotel lobbies or on national television. Together with her natural ear for music and a refreshingly honest onstage presence, she produces heartfelt, authentic pop songs.
Her involvement in music began at a young age. Recorder lessons paved the way for classical training in clarinet and piano, which became her main tool for songwriting and performing. She also plays guitar, recorder, clarinet, melodica, Omnichord and keytar, making her a sought-after session musician.
Lisa Crawley has recorded with Dave McArtney, Greg Johnson, Julia Deans, Annah Mac, Tim Finn, and for the first season of X Factor New Zealand. She was also given the task of transcribing Tim Finn's demos for his musical Women In Black into sheet music and work-shopping the show with the cast.
While studying at Auckland’s Avondale High School Lisa Crawley joined the band Velez, who then entered the National Battle of the Bands. However, it wasn’t until the band broke up that she began writing songs of her own.
After one year of study she accepted a four-month residency as a singer/entertainer in Atami, Japan.
Completing high school, she taught piano for a year, before being accepted to study jazz school at the University of Auckland. After one year of study she accepted a four-month residency as a singer/entertainer in Atami, Japan, to the dismay of her tutors, who saw promise in her ability to play by ear.
“It was like a full-on dinner show, with people all sitting down, watching. Seven days a week we'd do two shows each night, and then I'd go and play piano in the lounge later in the evening. It was really cheesy material, like Japanese pop songs" she told the New Zealand Herald in November 2011.
When her experience in Japan wrapped up she decided to make the move to London. In order to have a physical product on hand, she recorded and independently released an EP called Shoot The Night (2007) three weeks before the trip. The four-song introductory release included ‘Stranger’, which won her the Pacific Songwriting competition in 2008, and ‘Trying Out Tonight’, which was accompanied by her first ever music video. She excitedly printed 2,000 copies, of which only a small number were actually sold.
While in the UK, Crawley managed to slot in a few gigs between shifts working for a nightclub. She eventually joined former Goodshirt frontman Rodney Fisher's band. Leaving and returning to London with a valid visa a year or so later, she picked up gigs as a lounge pianist in hotels including The Ritz, which helped to pay for the recording of her follow-up EP, Hello, Goodbye and Everything In Between (2009).
After returning to New Zealand, Crawley recorded with her live band The Conversations under the production guidance of Ben King (Goldenhorse). The five-track EP was praised for its quirky songwriting and impressive range of vocal tones and emotion.
With a rising profile in New Zealand, Lisa decided to stay put in Auckland. Between gigs she entered into the singing impersonation show Stars in Their Eyes. Her rendition of US songwriter Norah Jones’ ‘Don’t Know Why’ made it into the grand final in June 2009. She was placed second behind Cantabrian mother-of-two Mandy Pickering (who performed as Sarah McLachlan). Lisa Crawley's original work proved more successful, with support slots before international acts John Mayer, Paul Weller and Jools Holland.
Lisa Crawley's 10-song debut album, Everything That I Have Seen, captured more of her experiences and emotions from her years in Japan and London.
Continuing the themes of her second EP, Lisa Crawley's 10-song debut album, Everything That I Have Seen (released October 2011) captured more of her experiences and emotions from her years in Japan and London, as well as the tragic passing of her boyfriend. The album was recorded and mixed over the period of a year at The Lab Studios in Auckland with Oliver Harmer. As a first, Crawley self-produced the majority of the album, with some assistance from Jol Mulholland, Wayne Bell and Andrew Keoghan (who features on the closing track, ‘We Are Wolves’). The general critical response was positive and the single ‘Leaving’ went on to make the long-list for the 2011 APRA Silver Scroll.
Off the back of her Scroll nomination, Lisa Crawley won the second monthly Wild Card Making Tracks grant through music discovery website theaudience.co.nz, with her song ‘What Would I Give’. With a $10,000 prize from NZ On Air, she was able to fund her second album. After a few months of pre-production with Djeisan Suskov (Cool Rainbows), Lisa booked two weeks at rural Waiuku studio Revolver to record. "Jason (Djeisan) was really helpful. We have different strengths. I think my strength is more in the melodic things, like arrangements and strings and horns, and he’s really good with the bass and drums,” Crawley told NZ Musician in the Aug/Sept 2013 issue.
Released in September 2013, All In My Head also included re-arranged versions of her previously released songs ‘Trying Out Tonight’ and ‘Stranger’. The end product was a more confident and focused piece of work with 1960s pop flavours scattered throughout. The response was equally as positive. Music critic Simon Sweetman called it a “star-making record”.
Lisa Crawley then moved to Melbourne where she regularly performs with her band. Her most recent release, with Australian producer Ryan Ritchie, is the EP Up In The Air followed in June 2017 by the single 'Wedding Band', recorded at the Banff Centre in Canada.
In September 2017 Lisa starred in Elizabeth at the Melbourne Fringe, performing as her alter-ego Elizabeth. In June 2018, she appeared at the Rockwood Music Hall in New York City followed by a support for Suzanne Vega in Auckland in August, accompanied by a new single, the haunting 'You Got Me'.
In November 2018, Lisa released her the single 'Baby It's Fine', with a video directed by NY based New Zealander Emily Hlavac Green.