Elizabeth Ziman, who performs as Elizabeth and the Catapult, is a critically acclaimed singer/songwriter from New York, living and working in Brooklyn. She’s toured​ with the likes of Sara Bareilles​ and Sara Bareilles; collaborated with Esperanza Spalding, Gillian Welch, Blake Mills​ and ​Ben Folds; scored, with Paul Brill, a variety of international award-winning documentaries including Trapped, a Peabody winner; and won the 2015 Independent Music Award for Songwriting, Folk category. Her songs have been featured in national television campaigns for Google, Amazon, Sky TV, and “​So You Think You Can Dance”​. In 2014, “Like it Never Happened” her third studio album was released by 30 tigers and produced by Dan Molad, Peter Lalish and Paul Loren with string arrangements by Rob Moose. In 2015 “Like it Never happened” was nominated for best album, best song, and best video by The 14th Annual Independent Music Awards and “Someday Soon” won the award in the “Folk/Singer-Songwriter Song” category. In October, “Keepsake” was released and was HorizonVU Music’s pick of the week

HVUM: Thanks so much for taking time to talk to us! We feel like we know quite a bit about your musical history from the time of your growing up in Greenwich Village, your training as a classical pianist, and your connection with Patti Austin and other prominent musicians. We understand that Elizabeth & the Catapult came into existence in 2004, and included Danny Molad on drums and Danny Molad on guitar.

Would you fill out the history a bit? Tell us about how Elizabeth & the Catapult came to be. Was the project conceived with a special identity and sonic signature in mind?

EZ: I started writing songs throughout college and when I left school, I moved to new york with some other college buddies and we started recording our first self titled EP at home. A year or two later it caught the attention of Verve Records, and we made our first album “Taller Children”.

HVUM: “Keepsake” is your fourth album following after “Taller Children” (2009), “The Other Side of Zero” (2010) and “Like It Never Happened (2014). Is there a continuity to your music over time? Is there a thread that we can follow from your training at the Berklee College of Music through to today?

EZ: I went to Berklee College of Music for composition and film scoring, so I feel like the main thread across all of my albums is that my ear usually leans towards more cinematic arrangements, sometimes the flourishes give it a bit of a theatrical flare and I have to hold myself back, but in general I’m drawn to layers and wide variety of instrumentals.

HVUM: Thinking back over your musical training and your success at bringing together multiple genres including pop and jazz, who do you consider to be your key influencers? Did you have a certain mentor who played an exceptional role in setting out your musical roadmap?

EZ: when I was very young I was a member of the New York City Young People’s Choir which was run by a brilliant composer and teacher named Francisco Nunez who recently won the MacArthur award for his compositions. By the time I was 10 years old we were competing professionally, and I was singing solos in carnegie hall. I left the chorus by the time I was 12, and I wouldn’t make it back to playing Carnegie Hall until another 15 years later with my band. Both the experiences and Francisco’s unusual classical writing style most definitely had an influence on who I am today.

HVUM: Many of our young readers are setting out in music and frequently ask about the advantages and disadvantages of D.Y. I. vs pursuit of a label. Or maybe there is something in the middle such as what John Kellogg at Berklee refers to as Doing It With Others? What is your point of view?

EZ: As is obvious, the music business over the last five years is in a very precarious position compared to the way things have worked over the last 70 years. Yes, labels shut down, people stopped buying cd’s, and everything became virtually free through digital downloads and streams- but the music business always finds a way so even super popular successful artists decided to break away from labels, start their own, and start getting involved in Kickstarter campaigns. I myself raised money for the last two albums on pledge music, and even though I’m not signed to compass, the whole album was funded by my fans. That’s a very lucky thing- and is becoming more commonplace everyday.

HVUM: With respect to “Keepsake”, You’ve stated that the lyrical ideas came to you from lucid dreams. Would you elaborate on that a bit and relate your dream experience(s) to one of the album’s standout tracks “Underwater”?

EZ: Ha. Yes, I had a terrible flu a couple winters ago when I was moving into a new house and started having fever dreams, so as my dreams got stranger I began writing everything down for posterity. There were a lot of nostalgic dreams, and I coupled those with old diary entrees I found when moving- it was as if I was filling in my life backwards through my dreams. And with that was the birth of “Keepsake”.

HVUM: Let’s take time out for a look and listen to “Underwater”, the second track on “Keepsake”.

HVUM: You give attribution for the video to Meredith Adelaide. Tell us about that collaboration and connecting the composition and lyrics to the video production?

EZ: Meredith is incredibly talented, I feel so lucky to have found her. She’s somewhat of an Instagram sensation, so I found her self-portraits online and just fell in love with her photography. Her style is incredibly raw, and somehow both vulnerable and strong at the same time- just super honest. She did a great job of capturing the chaos and joy that is New York City! It was a delight to shoot with her.

HVUM: Imagine that Elizabeth Ziman is a book. What would be the title? Why?

EZ: well my intials are EZ, so maybe “EZ DOES IT” ?

HVUM: Finally, what is on the horizon for you and your work? Any tours ahead?

EZ: Hopefully tons and tons of touring this year! We’re going to Nashville this month, an east coast run in December and then hopefully out to the west coast in January. There will be plenty of running around ahead!

Elizabeth, thanks again for interviewing with us. We wish you continued success and we hope to see you in Paris very soon!

Visit Elizabeth & the Catapult at Facebook and iTunes