RELEASING his self-funded debut album Autumn Flow back in 2005, budding singer-songwriter Lior was cautiously optimistic when it came to his “best-case scenario”.
“I was just hoping to sell 2000 copies so I could pay the people back who I had borrowed money from to make it,” the Israeli-born Australian singer recalls.
Needless to say that Lior, then 28, was stunned when, driving home late one night, he heard the Triple J announcer reveal that the radio station had been inundated by calls from listeners asking about Autumn Flow.
“A few months later, I was at the ARIA Awards being nominated for best male artist alongside Paul Kelly, so it was a bit of a pinching-myself moment, and there were many of them that year,” Lior tells The AJN.
“But if you had told me that at the time I released it, I’d have probably laughed in your face.”
Indeed, the launch of Autumn Flow went on to become one of the most successful independent debuts in Australian music history, with sales exceeding platinum status.
Ten years later, with another three studio albums under his belt, Lior is one of our most renowned musical artists.
He’s currently gearing up for the 10th anniversary re-release of Autumn Flow and a national celebratory tour next month that will see him perform the album in its entirety, as well as selected tracks from other albums.
“When I listen back to that first album, I hear a very innocent and pure singer-songwriter who was very passionate about this group of songs, and who wanted to record and express them without any expectations whatsoever,” says Lior.
“There’s a certain sort of beautiful naivety and purity about that album that still resonates for me.”
Autumn Flow featured several chart toppers including This Old Love, Daniel and the title song.
As Lior knows better than anyone, the record industry has undergone immense change since he first burst onto the scene a decade ago.
“When Autumn Flow came out, there wasn’t even iTunes, which has since entrenched itself as such a permanent part of the landscape. People were still buying CDs,” he says.
“Initially, I released the album independently out of necessity. I just wasn’t getting the intrinsic support from record labels that I wanted, and I decided to invest my energies into the music rather than chasing that support.
“But that ended up really working in my favour, particularly when the album was featured on Triple J and then started getting some exposure and building an organic fan base.
“It was purely based on an interaction between the audience and myself. There was no hype, and I think people really enjoyed that.”
This was followed by regular successful albums including Corner of an Endless Road (2008), Tumbling into the Dawn (2010) and Scattered Reflections (2014), which was crowdfunded.
Based in Melbourne with his wife Melanie and their two children – daughter Lucca, 11, and son Jem, 9 – Lior is also hard at work penning many new songs for his next album.
“At the moment, the album is really at the exploratory stage,” he reflects. “I’m trying not to place any limitations on what I’m writing, so it’s as wide and varied as I can make it, and it will probably only be later this year or early next year that I will assemble it all into what I hope will be a coherent body of work.
“I think every album of mine has been a little different and I want to keep it that way, but I guess there is always the common thread of my voice and my lyric.”
While Lior loves performing to a crowd, he also relishes the solitude that comes with the creative process of songwriting.
“I think when you are entrenched in each section – whether it’s touring or writing or recording – you just love it, but then by the end of it, you can’t wait to get onto the next one,” he says, laughing.
“But with writing, it’s the joy of creation and discovery, and that’s why I think all artists initially get inspired to get into whatever they do – the thrill of creation.”
And Lior couldn’t be more grateful to his wife Melanie, who is clearly his biggest supporter.
“These days, I do feel like I need to go away for a few days at a time to write,” he says.
“It’s more of a mental thing. I feel in order to tap into great ideas, you need to get into that zone, and writing for a few hours a day doesn’t really lead to good results.
“So I slot in times when I can go away somewhere and write for a few days without any interruptions. Particularly, my wife understands that’s where it all starts – with the process of creativity – so you have to allow the respect that it needs.”
Lior recently took time out in Western Australia’s Margaret River region to do some songwriting.
“I’m just amassing work. It sounds simple, but you do need to have the creativity guide everything. I’m also happy to be celebrating and reflecting on a pretty full 10 years and how lucky I am to be here.”
Joining Lior on stage for the Autumn Flow 10th anniversary tour are some of Australia’s top musicians, including bass player Brett Hirst, who originally played on Autumn Flow and who has been part of Lior’s band ever since, drummer Evan Mannell, percussionist Bree Van Reyk, guitarist Ben Edgar and pianist Gerard Masters.
Lior is in concert at the Enmore Theatre, Sydney on October 10 and at the Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne on October 16. Bookings: www.ticketek.com.au.
REPORT by Jackie Brygel