Lisa Canarvis is a study in passion and intensity. Whether you get caught in her piercing gaze or walloped by the siren call of her lilting voice, Canarvis is riveting. But beneath the cool burn is the undeniably palpable excitement of her new project, The Beautiful Ending.
Known for her vocal work in the local prog-metal outfit Serenity Falls, or in the tension-release sledgehammer that was Safety Off, Canarvis has finally struck out on her own to get what's inside out. She has assembled a crew of studio musicians to help realize this cathartic emotional export, and at this point is working with a revolving cast for the project's upcoming debut and future shows.
The Beautiful Ending just released its EP "One Step Closer," a recording that illustrates a restrained intensity coupled with a seething elegance. It is dynamic, densely picturesque, and urgent, with a veiled punch ensconced in velvet.
Canarvis stopped by the City office to discuss the new EP, getting what's in out, and everything that leads up to a beautiful ending. An edited transcript follows.
CITY: So what's so beautiful about it?
Lisa Canarvis: Well, I think it's a cool name. It may sound kind of sappy, but I think we're all looking for a beautiful ending.
How is this different from your past band experiences?
I was in Serenity Falls for about four years, then Safety Off on and off for about a year and a half. Now this is my thing. It's all my stuff.
Is The Beautiful Ending scratching an itch the other bands couldn't? What is that itch?
I think it's tapping into those emotions that are inside that you want to get out but don't know how. I didn't get a chance to do that in my other bands. It's just about life and going through things and dealing with them. My first band we didn't do stuff like that — it was more a collaborative effort. This is more personal to me.
What are you writing about?
I think it's a lot of stuff people can relate to, to talk about things that make you uncomfortable. We all go through it, but it's hard to say it.
Did you get what you were looking for with this project?
Yes. I got what I was looking for. I contacted a few guys I had worked with in the past. Aaron Nicholson from Safety Off — I just love his tone and I love the way he plays. Then I contacted my old drummer from Serenity Falls, Rob Bodley, who was also in The Youngbloods for a couple of years, and bassist Greg Whittemore, who I played with briefly in Serenity Falls, and Ledwing Hernandez to do lead guitar.
But this isn't your band line-up.
No. I got them to write the music with me. I got them as studio musicians.
You don't play an instrument. How did you convey what you wanted to the band in the studio?
I sing. That's the difficult part about it. It was very difficult at first. It was a learning process. It got easier as we went along. You still have to give creative direction. It's all about communicating.
What was the hardest part for you?
Juggling being the vocalist and writing the lyrics and getting the music to go in the direction I wanted it to go in — that was the biggest struggle.
What sort of input did you get in the studio from the others?
I should specify, these guys were pretty much work for hire. I told them what I wanted, they gave me some ideas, and we went from there.
In terms of what you wanted and what you got, how close did you come?
I got it pretty close. It came out better than I expected. I was impressed because I don't think that happens very often. Sometimes though if it wasn't something I wanted at first, it was often something that came out better.
Was this a learning experience for you?
Even though you have a direction you want to go in, you can't always expect to get there. You have to be open and you have to realize that you don't know everything. In the end, either the music and notes come together or they don't. I think it's about the process as a whole.
The Beautiful Ending is less heavy and more melodic than things we've heard from you previously. Why the shift?
It's heavy but I don't scream. I wasn't interested in doing that; I wanted to sing on it.
The screaming has been done.
Yeah, it's been done. But I wanted to create something that was heavy but sounded nice at the same time. Something a little more standard 4/4, radio friendly.
How do you describe it?
When people ask me what it sounds like, I tell them, "That's for you to decide."
So the ending is beautiful. What about the beginning? What about the middle?
That's where I am now...and it's good.