Lieza, a 24-year-old singer-songwriter from Dallas, took some time to find her voice. On a journey of self-discovery, she partnered with Grammy award-winning writer and producer, Femke. Joining the artist-first community founded by Femke, LV Music, Lieza recently released the power anti-bullying anthem 'Hate Me.' Not hiding from her past, Lieza grips her pain as a catalyst to connect with those who listen.
A Falling Out
“I don’t speak to my mom anymore,” says Lieza. “After the divorce, things fell out and we went our separate ways.” Meghan Roner, who goes by her artist name Lieza, grew up in a broken family outside of Dallas, Texas. Her parents divorced after she graduated high school and Lieza’s younger sister moved in with her mother. “My mom wasn’t a very caring person,” she says. “She always left my younger sister, who was 12 at the time, on her own.” From college, Lieza stayed tightly connected to her sister. Lieza skyped her sister for study sessions and helped her handle home life. “I took care of her from school,” she says. “It forced me to grow up fast.”
Before leaving home to study audio production at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), Lieza lived in a home ruled by country music. Her mother regulated the song selection around the house. “She was scared of pop,” says Lieza. “I had a skewed upbringing thinking only country music existed, but I never had the voice for it.” Breaking the household rules, Lieza purchased the album Beautiful Soul by Jesse McCartney in fifth grade. “I convinced my mom he was a country singer,” she laughs. “That CD broke the cycle.”
Early on, Lieza told nobody except her best friend about her passion for music. Her parents came from a science background and did not view music as a viable way to make money. “My parents encouraged me to follow my passion,” she says, “but it was understood you didn’t make a career out of it.” Lieza sang for her best friend who urged her to pursue a path in music. “I would make these awkward Journey covers,” says Lieza, “but I guess she saw something.”
Later in high school, Lieza committed to studying music in college. The unfamiliar atmosphere jolted her the first days she stepped on campus at MTSU. “I grew up in a small town where people teach at the same schools they went to,” she says. “Now I was surrounded by people who accept music and create every day.” At first, Lieza wanted to stay behind the scenes in sound production. She only sang in front her friends who convinced her to try out for X-Factor. After waiting in line until 3am, passing a guy in a chicken suit, and meeting a girl who had pipes like Christina Aguilera, Lieza did not make the cut. “It was good for me to get out there,” she says. “I knew people liked my voice and I wanted to make something of it.”
Stepping Behind The Mic
Junior year, Lieza began interning for Femke, a Grammy-winning producer and songwriter from the Netherlands. Still studying sound production, Lieza wanted to test her skills on the other side of the board. She worked under Femke for 18 months. Harnessing her vocals, practicing vocal comping, and collaborating on writing sessions, Lieza broke through creative ceilings. As the internship ended, Femke made plans to start her own artist first community. Extending beyond the typical duties of a label, this community would operate as a support system for artists like Lieza. Femke invited Lieza to join. She accepted. “Femke’s the producer, but she’s also a best friend and mentor,” says Lieza. “When we make music, we check the friendship at the door and tell each other how it is.”
As Lieza and Femke write, they tell each other stories. “Sometimes I’ll walk into the studio and we’ll just talk,” says Lieza. “If one of us says something lyrical I’ll write it down.” Most ideas spawn organically. Lieza records voice memos on her phone when struck with inspiration. “I’ll sit there and fuck around with some chords,” she says. “Sometimes the melody comes out and I’ll add the lyrics.”
For the song ‘Don’t Make Me Dance,’ Lieza sat at the piano and recorded a loop into Logic. She then mumbled the phrasing into her phone, shaping the first verse and the chorus over the melody. “When I write, things tend to tumble out of my subconscious,” she says. The song speaks on the space between two people locked in rhythm on the dance floor. “That space can make you feel things you didn’t want to just by being close to someone,” she says. “Women often notice that distance more than men.” Lieza draws attention to the overpowering presence a man can impart. Closeness can create an unintentional air of uncomfortability.
In the making of the music video for ‘Don’t Make Me Dance,’ Lieza worked with local artists to breathe life into the project. The cover art was designed by a local painter and the female dancer in the video attends college close by. “I always look to support other artists on their journey,” she says.
On her own journey, Lieza has embraced the honesty and insecurity in her lyrics. She craves transparency in one-on-one situations but has struggled to reach the same level of vulnerability in front of many. “Oddly enough, music is the one place I can really open up,” she says. “All of these judgments constantly fire in my brain, but in the studio, there’s only me.” Even though her music will reach by thousands of people, the studio remains her safe space. Singing live, she feels the eyes on her, but the uneasiness quickly dissipates. “For the first couple minutes of a live performance I’m cognizant of other people, but after that, I go into my own brain.”
On stage, Lieza can channel painful memories and connect with faces in the crowd. “I have a lot to say coming from a broken family, a broken way of growing up,” she says. “I share all of that into Lieza.” The sobriquet ‘Lieza’ stems from the nickname for her middle name, Elizabeth. Ironically, the artist name she uses to express her pain comes from the source of it, her home. “I’m still trying to write a song about the falling out with my mother,” she says, “but there are so many emotions that I still haven’t put together.”
Her most recent release, ‘Hate Me,’ draws upon those emotions and extends a hand to those who have been bullied. Lieza partnered with an anti-bullying organization to release the single, which will be part of an upcoming EP. “Knock me down, I don’t give a damn,” Lieza sings as she invites others to try to break her with hate. “It’s a very emotional piece that I hope inspires people to love themselves a little bit more,” she says. On a mission to spread love, Lieza’s lyrics spark from introspection. She wants listeners to be able to identify with the raw emotion behind the music. “I hope that when people listen to me they feel like they’re not the only one,” she says. “I want others to feel that connection.”