Fact: Nothing compares to the (often-times deliciously indulgent) catharsis that comes from listening to sad songs during a breakup. Proof: Mononymous Melbourne musician Elizabeth's The Wonderful World of Nature, an 11-song album that perfectly encapsulates the colourful spectrum of emotions that can be felt in love and heartbreak.
We spoke with the patron saint of sadness about the difference between being alone and being lonely, the importance of both self-compassion and accountability in a breakup, and why we should all prioritise our own desires.
Maddy Woon: Can you give us the Elizabeth elevator pitch? (i.e. Who are you, and what do you do?)
Elizabeth: I am a starlet here to make you cry. I sing songs about my feelings, create a world of music around me that is messy and pretty. A sexy dream. I released my debut album The Wonderful World of Nature at the end of last year. It’s a pop album about heartbreak.
What does sensuality mean to you?
Sensuality for me is touch and connection, with yourself and with others. It’s moving slowly to feel the world around you.
How do you keep your mind stimulated?
I try to do some meditation every day which reminds me to be present, go inward, go slow. It’s also very good for me as someone who has a lot of feelings, all the time; it keeps me balanced. I like being balanced these days, I am enjoying reducing the chaos. I like reading and having challenging conversations with the people in my life. I love to read my tarot and reflect on the things that are happening to and around me.
And your body?
I have been recently trying to get stronger, do some weights and bop around more. That’s a new challenge! I love soft fabrics, silky robes for wearing around the home. For me, touch is also very important for feeling connected to my body. Spending a lazy day in bed with someone is my dream day.
What’s a good uniform for seduction?
I think anything can be a good uniform for seduction... it’s not about wearing something super sexy, it’s about knowing that you are a beautiful treat.
What do you appreciate most about your body?
That I can breathe clearly, that I am soft and strong.
What was your creative process like when writingThe Wonderful World of Nature?
I write pretty much every day, not because I’m very disciplined but because it’s how I process my world and my feelings. Writing the album took place over a few years, with a couple of months of really intentional writing towards the end (ie. locking myself in a studio). I wrote the album in lots of different bedrooms, studios, stairwells, and the lounge room at my parents’ hotel in the country.
The album perfectly encapsulates the non-linear rollercoaster ride that comes with a relationship ending. Was this intentional, or is it a reflection of the way you were processing the breakup at the time?
I don’t think that it was intentional, I think it’s the product of writing an album across the span of a break-up. Break-ups, big ones especially, are so non-linear because very often you are still in love with each other but it’s just not working anymore. There are no clean lines in being broken-hearted, or at least not for me. I think I love very hard, and possibly forever, even if things get very broken.
How would you describe the album in five words?
Pop, tragedy, intimacy, debutante, divorcée.
The one thing that got me through my last long term breakup was going for long early morning walks around the park, listening to sad love songs and openly weeping. (It felt tragic and amazing). Why do you think heartbreak songs make us feel better?
It’s all about connection. When you bear witness to someone else’s pain, it makes you feel less alone. It’s like we are all sharing in a big sip of the sadness, together alone.
What’s the difference between being alone and being lonely?
Being alone is powerful, it can be amazing to realise that the only person you truly need is yourself. I only truly experience loneliness when I’m missing a specific person, I revel in alone time. I get all my power from the time I spend alone. But also, I grew up as an only child so maybe that’s why...
Music aside, what helps you get over a breakup?
Drinking bubbles with my friends, watching the sunset, feeling small in the world. And of course, as a dutiful queer, processing the break-up with the ex.
How do we take accountability for our role in a relationship ending, and learn from our mistakes, while also practising self-compassion?
I only really discovered self-compassion as a thing that is super valuable last year! I think part of being a grown-up is really owning your shit, having the ability to say here is how I was a monster, here’s how we became monsters together. I don’t think there’s much use in wallowing in that space, although a lot of good art probably comes from the wallowing. So I don’t really know is the answer, I’m trying to strike some kind of a balance between owning the mistakes I’ve made and forgiving myself…
Do you think music has the power to change the world?
Yes and no. I think if music is helping people to connect to each other, to love more, to feel more then maybe yes. But I’m not sure that music does that always, a lot of the music industry is still very caught up in money and power and profit, power for the wrong people, so maybe also no.
Par Femme is all about pleasure, sensuality and empowerment. How has your relationship with these things changed over time? Why do you think these things have been taboo subjects, for women especially?
I think I used to derive a feeling of empowerment from performing what I felt was a “good” version of sexuality, like there was power for me in being hot for other people, letting them consume me. I do think there is an element of pleasure that comes from knowing someone else is attracted to you but I feel as I get older I’m getting better at prioritising my own desire rather than twisting myself into something that is to be consumed.
Why is self-pleasure important?
Knowing what you want and being able to give it to yourself is essential, especially if you want to experience that with someone else. I think that really applies to all areas of your life, definitely not just sex. I want my relationships with other people to be based on want, not need.
What do you wish you’d learned in sex education at school?
I wish we had been taught that sex can be so many things. That pleasure is important, that queer people exist, that consent is an ongoing conversation, that all bodies are good.
What sex/love advice would you give your 16-year-old self?
Do whatever you want <3