From her days as a member of Prince’s New Power Generation to her acclaimed solo career and time fronting Roadcase Royale, her ubiquitously cool project with Nancy Wilson (Heart), there can be no denying that powerhouse vocalist Liv Warfield is a force of to be reckoned with. As evidenced by her emotionally-charged new single, “Mantra.”
Written by Warfield along with longtime friend and guitarist Ryan Waters, the song is a roller coaster ride of blues and soul, and equally as honest in its surreality.
Backed by Waters’ tasty guitar prowess and a 42-piece orchestra (arranged by Grammy-winning conductor, Mateo Messina), “Mantra” not only showcases the artist’s unique and powerful vocal range but is also an undying message of hope.
The song, which took nearly four years to complete, and had even piqued the interest of Prince himself shortly before his passing, is indicative of an artist who’s found her musical foundation.
I recently spoke with Warfield about “Mantra”, her work with Roadcase Royale, Prince and much more in this exclusive new interview.
How did “Mantra” come about?
Liv Warfield: As an independent artist, we’re always trying to find the next thing. Ryan Waters and I had the song in an infant stage around the same time I had the chance to open-up for Heart. Prince was still alive at the time and when he heard the song he was wowed by it. The song is full of emotional highs and low and the lyrics are what I was feeling. It’s taken four years to complete but I think everyone can relate to the song’s roller coaster ride.
I have to ask you, what was it like working with Prince?
LW: It was incredible and an experience like no other. There’s so many emotions I feel across the board whenever I think of him. He was a teacher, a mentor and a friend. One of the best experiences for me was being able to watch him on stage. Just the energy he put off to everyone. You couldn’t help but just freeze in the moment. It was magic and I miss him every single day.
What else can you tell me about your songwriting and the recording process of “Mantra”?
LW: For the most part I like to write lyrics first. Then I’ll usually go to Ryan, who’s killer with coming up with these big riffs. Ryan’s good friends with Marlon Patton [drums] and Robby Handley [bass] and we recorded everything in Atlanta. It started out naked; with just drums, bass, guitar and vocals. I really wanted the song to feel like it had a big drop, and the process of adding the orchestra came later, when I felt the beauty of life. It’s the push and pull of staying on the path. There will be times when the rug might be pulled out from underneath you but you have to keep going.
Is this new song part of a larger project you’re working on?
LW: I have a few other songs I’ll be dropping but I couldn’t move on without doing this one first. This song needed to be the foundation and set the tone for everything else. I wanted this one to say, “Hello universe. I’m here.”
Tell me how you and Nancy Wilson joined forces for Roadcase Royale.
LW: After I’d met Nancy the two of us decided to keep in touch. We eventually met up in L.A. and hit it off right away. That was when we started talking about doing an R&B/Soul/Rock project together. I still remember us all sitting in a circle, campfire style, and doing some Joni Mitchell and Steely Dan. From that moment we knew we were locked in. It was a very unique band and one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.
What excites you the most about your new single, “Mantra,” and this next phase of your career?
LW: It’s important for me to keep making music and playing live, so I’m really excited about the opportunity to get this music out there. This song came from a hard place and has truly changed my life. I hope it does that for others when they listen to it. The music has always been the message.