Michigan Pride, Lansing
Bite into a sliced lemon. Breathe into a bag. Swallow some sugar. Hiccup home remedies could have their own Bible. But Zoe Lewis prefers the simple antidote: drinking water upside down. Though now, armed with a hiccup-curing tip from an Australian pal that ceases the dreaded ailment through intense emotional distractions, Lewis might not have to rely on H2O. She can simply spin her upcoming disc: “The Cure For Hiccups.”
“If I could cure the hiccups with my music, that would be a marvelous thing,” Lewis insists, adding that this disc delves into life’s random eruptions and, with more brass and strings, deeper into her instrument repertoire and world beat sound.
The perky England native doesn’t just sit and tinker on the piano, or strum the guitar; she’s a self-proclaimed “band in a body.” Give her a set of keys, and she’ll shake them. Hand her some coins, and she’ll rattle them.
“I am warped,” she declares, laughing.
And that’s just the beginning of a creative mind searching for new quirky musical avenues to cross. As a kid, when Lewis traveled without her piano, she made her own: She drew a piano on a piece of cardboard. Sure, there wasn’t a foot pedal. And, obviously, there was no sound. But did that bother her? Absolutely not.
“I went traveling to third-world countries and, of course, they make music from anything – stuff that falls from trees, just garbage, beautiful tin instruments and steel pans,” she says. “Continually I am stunned by how creative people get with the objects around them.”
Lewis’ travels – her plane just landed in San Francisco and she was inhaling a California burrito before the interview – take her to more places than the average American and allow her songwriting to thrive.
“You can never stop whacking yourself in the head, turning yourself upside down and looking at things in a different way,” she notes.
Recently she gigged on an Olivia cruise in Greece, and after playing in California, she’ll fly to Seattle to finish mixing her album.
On the way home to Provincetown, Mass. (“It’s like gay pride the whole time”), she’ll stop in Lansing for Pride, where Roxanne Layton will join Lewis on the jazz recorder. Her memories of being here years ago (she can’t recall exactly when) are blurry, but she remembers browsing local musical venues including Elderly Instruments and the all-women-run Goldenrod Music’s warehouse. “You know, sometimes you have to like jog my mind,” she laughs. “I zoom around like a yo-yo.”
Which can make it tough to maintain a relationship. But for Lewis and her partner of a year-and-a-half, they follow a rule: No more than two weeks apart. Otherwise, she tows her girlfriend, the New York-based punk singer of early ’90s queercore band God Is My Co-Pilot, with her.
Lewis laughs, like she hasn’t considered this before: “Who knew I’d be going out with a punk musician?”