LIVSKA reveals the Stranger Things references in her lustfully retro single

Melbourne singer/songwriter, LIVSKA, dives into the layers behind her ’80s synth track, Stranger, and its reference to Stranger Things.

Creative mind, LIVSKA, chats with Happy about the making of her latest track, Stranger, and what we can expect from her in the future.

Pushing the limits of storytelling within a tune, LIVSKA offers advice for artists kicking off their solo career and her desire to continue creating cinematically lustrous music.

Photos: provided

HAPPY: Hey LIVSKA! Where do you find yourself today?

LIVSKA: Hello! Oh I wish I could say somewhere fun and exotic, but today I am unfortunately bunkered down in my home in Melbourne after lockdown number five was announced recently. Very crazy to think that I was out and about playing a show less than two weeks ago.

HAPPY: Massive congrats on the release of Stranger! What’s the story behind the track?

LIVSKA: Thanks so much, I’m honestly still just buzzing from the release! The track was initially inspired by the soundtrack to Stranger Things and the cute little teenage love story that developed there (I won’t say between who – no spoilers) but the message of the song goes much deeper. It follows the journey of developing those initial feelings of excitement, lust and attraction associated when you first meet someone, who was once a stranger to you. But then as time passes, that connection also fades, putting that person at risk of becoming a stranger to you once again.

The track is really the tension point of when you start to realise that things are fading so you long for those memories as a way to overcome the risk of losing that person completely. This was also probably my first proper attempt at writing lyrics that were a bit more intimate than my
usual writing style. I really tried to really visualise what the music was making me feel and translate that into words, which has never been my strong point, but I think the added vocal harmonies in the pre-chorus really help to enhance the buildup of that tension and lust.

HAPPY: The track has a real ’80s synth vibe to it… what was your inspiration behind this?

LIVSKA: For the record, I have always enjoyed ’80s synth-pop music but there was something about the dark synth-pop soundtrack to this TV show that really captured my attention, so I took it upon myself as a challenge to write something that I could fuse into a dreamy LIVSKA track. What started the whole idea for me was the arpeggiated bass synthesizer at the beginning and that ethereal light-hearted pad, followed by that classic 80’s sounding snare. I then just built up the track layer by layer (and believe me, there are a lot of layers), until it reached a point that sounded complete to me.

People have compared Stranger to giving almost The Cure-like vibes which is just an awesome compliment for me. The track was really just so much fun to write and record and has just been received with so much support. To also see people enjoying it live and dancing away to it is really just such a pretty sight to see, just makes me wish I was a better dancer.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by LIVSKA (@livskamusic)

HAPPY: Your music has a real lustrous story-feel to it.. how do you translate stories into sound?

LIVSKA: Well I’m so glad you feel that way because that’s the aim! For me, I have always found it more natural to start with the music first, before I find a way to describe it in words. I visualise the story/memory in my mind and then try to almost create a soundtrack to accompany and match the mood or feeling. I’ve always wanted to feature on a soundtrack to a film or tv show so maybe it’s just me holding onto that dream. But once I have an idea, I will then usually build layers of instruments to add more and more depth to the song.

I’ll admit sometimes I do get carried away with the number of layers but I just love the option of having a selection of different textures and elements that can really enhance the overall experience of the song. At the end of the day I really want to just write moody songs that can move people during the best and worst times.

HAPPY: Who have been your music influences for Stranger?

LIVSKA: For this track, I can definitely hear a blend of all my favourite elements from the likes of: MUNA, Daughter, The XX, The Jezebels, Mansionair, Tycho, CHVRCHES and even New Order.

HAPPY: How have you had to adapt your music approach in the landscape of COVID-19?

LIVSKA: I think the impact of COVID-19 will carry lasting effects on so many people around the world, but it’s no secret that the music industry or the arts sector more generally, has taken a massive hit. Living in Melbourne, the live music capital of the world, artists are constantly living in a state of anxiety because shows and festivals are being cancelled so frequently. It just makes it very difficult to look forward to the best part of being a musician when there’s no guarantee that it will go ahead in this climate.

This has definitely pushed artists like myself to have more of an online presence, so you can still connect with people from all around the world. Social media was actually something I neglected previously but now I definitely see the role it plays and because the world is so heavily online now, it can definitely create new types of opportunities that could potentially expose you to more people, like live-streaming concerts. But in saying that, I really hope the “new” normal involves the return of live shows, stability and some real human interaction because I think it’s safe to say that we all miss that.

HAPPY: What can we expect in the future for LIVSKA?

LIVSKA: More music, more shows and definitely a video clip. Unfortunately, COVID has interrupted my filming plans for the Stranger music video, but I am determined to proceed and release it, so stay tuned because it will happen, I’m just that stubborn!

HAPPY: What advice would you share for artists just starting out their solo career?

LIVSKA: Firstly, know you can absolutely do it! After being in a band for many years, I was hesitant and overwhelmed at even the thought of doing everything on my own but I think if you’re driven and you really believe in your music (and you always should), it can be so rewarding and fulfilling. Definitely be prepared to learn a lot through the process but also be open to advice from others, there’s so much knowledge that can be gained by simply starting a conversation.

Secondly, make the most of every opportunity and just say yes because you never know who is watching or listening or how they can help you develop. I’m a firm believer in the mantra “we only regret the chances we didn’t take”, so I really try to take that on board to help me develop as an artist.

HAPPY: Thanks for your time Liv!

Check out LIVSKA’s latest release, Stranger, and hop on board the artist’s train for her upcoming new releases: