RICH LOPEZ | Staff Writer
Having a No. 1 hit right out of the gate can be a hell of a lot of pressure on a young musician, but Lisa Loeb hasn’t been overly fazed by her fame. She’s navigated a healthy career that expanded far beyond her signature indie song “Stay,” which caught on when it was picked for the film Reality Bites. Loeb is a singer, yes, but has also dabbled in acting and voiceover work. And she now adds eyewear designer to her resume.
Loeb returns to her native Dallas Thursday for an intimate concert at Jack’s Backyard, but the night will also mark the launch of her new eyewear line.
She has been pretty much identified by her plastic-framed cat-eye glasses, so this marriage would have seemed to be long in the works. Then again, these things take a while.
“Certain ideas take a long time to make happen,” she says. “I’ve been working on this for about three years. When I started slowing down musically, I could give my personal life some focus, and told myself, ‘I have to do this,’ but it took a long time to just to get the first round of styles.”
Loeb decided to go forward with designing after being recognized for so long by her signature spectacles — even being asked for advice on eyewear. Plus, she has some slightly selfish reasons for doing it.
“When I needed certain clothes that I had in mind, I had them made,” she says. “The same with glasses. It was hard to find ones that fit me. So it’s kind of selfish, but I’m like, this is an iconic look for anybody and I’m enjoying making the different varieties for people and myself!”
“Hipsters, moms, little girls — I’m making glasses that make anybody feel comfortable,” she says. “They will only enhance somebody’s look but they don’t speak before the person does.”
This isn’t to say the music world has lost Loeb to fashion, but her approach to music and concerts has changed since she became a mother. Loeb recently performed an online concert and her enthusiasm over both the convenience and the interaction with her fans has convinced her to do more in the future.
“Oh, it was really cool and I just did it live from my kitchen,” she says. “It’s like this whole different version of tweeting and I can communicate with people writing comments as the show happens. I want to do early afternoon ones for kids and a lunchtime one. I think people who just wanna stay home appreciate it too. It makes sense.”
Still, the acoustic goddess isn’t ready to give in entirely to technology. Despite figuring out the best way to put out her upcoming album, she doesn’t want to stray too far from an actual connection with her audiences. Simply put, that’s her style of performing. But coming back to her hometown for a concert does make her nervous.
“It’s always fun to come home and see friends and family, but it can also be strange,” she laughs. “When you have white-haired relatives sitting on the side of the stage, that makes you nervous! But they are so supportive.”
At times, she recalls her younger days here: Sneaking into the clubs in Deep Ellum (Club Dada had a strict policy); Bill Wisener of Bill’s Records giving her albums from his store because she used to DJ in school; gigging at spots like Poor David’s Pub. She’s curious about the scene’s landscape now — each of the locales she mentions have had a rebirth in Dallas, with the latter two now neighbors in South Dallas and Dada having reopened earlier this year.
So Dallas for her will be different and the same. She does have great expectations for Jack’s Backyard.
“I think what sounds so great about Jack’s is that it’s this big outdoor space with music and has food,” she says with inordinate enthusiasm.
Fame may not have changed Loeb, but what has is her family. She married in early 2009 and later that year announced the birth of her daughter. Family life suits her. Although Loeb doesn’t turn overly gushy when talking about her family, there is no doubt that they are high priority, not only in life, but in her music, too.
“Because I represent my family now, it’s focused me on my music,” she says. “I want my daughter to be proud of what I do so I think more about the impact it will have on her if I’m going to work. On the other hand, I want my daughter to see me doing what I love. You have to pick and choose wisely.”
What her daughter has brought to Loeb is, of all things, more music. Having a child didn’t change the music Loeb was listening to, but rather increased it. Loeb is intent on having her daughter listen to all kinds of music like she did growing up listening to classical, disco, R&B. Plus, she wants to be “that kind of mother.”
“I can’t think while listening to music at home, but she needs to have it on,” she says. “I started taking some of my old CDs and I’ll play all kinds of stuff. Because of her, music is making our lives bigger. Plus, I want to show her cool things and be the cool, groovy mom.”
That should be a cinch for the cool, groovy artist.