As a self-taught musician coming up during Detroit’s rich, eclectic music scene in the 1970s and 1980s, Liz Larin related to music by picking up an instrument, hearing the music in her head, then finding the sounds.
Larin says, “I’ve always known it’s the way I sense the world and others’ emotions. As a kid, I was a stutterer, so I gave up on language and everything became about music and sound.” Eventually she was able to overcome her stutter in high school through anger and speaking slowly in rhythm. While her stutter (and the anger associated with it) went away, her love of rhythm remained.
The talented musician made her way to Los Angeles, where her tech-oriented band, Rebel Heels, signed with Atlantic Records. Through the ebb and flow of the tumultuous music industry, she eventually found her way back to the Detroit area – a move that allowed her to be in control of her own artistic freedom and start her second independent record label, Bona Dea Music, specializing in world and ambient music and electronic pop/rock.
Ambient music is an atmospheric musical genre that resonates with Larin. “Ambient music can change a room and a mind. It involves science, math, spirituality, and unseen geometry. It can be used to access a world or alter a state.”
The acclaimed musician was recently presented with two awards in the Electronic/Dance category at the 2022 Detroit Music Awards, bringing her award total to 46 over the past two decades. “The Detroit Music Awards is a special way to recognize local music. There’s a lot of talent here. We’re really lucky – not every city has recognition like this.”
Released in late 2021, Larin’s “The Expedition” received the Outstanding Electronic/Dance Recording award. Larin explains, “It’s a celebration of diversity and finding strength – music you would hear at a futuristic dance party.”
After spending years in the music industry as a composer, songwriter, recording artist, producer, and vocalist, the Birmingham-based musician is focused on her passion for composing. In addition to her own music, she is creating music for various independent films and special projects, including Lifetime network. To enhance her musical talents, Larin is studying orchestration (“the secret ingredient”), classical greats, and the relationship between world music and culture. She also offers a “master class” in music artistry for the next generation of aspiring musicians.
“I spend the bulk of my time creating music,” Larin says. “I think the most exciting music right now is associated with film. The composer takes the filmmaker’s ideas and gives emotional depth to a scene with music…There are some incredible composers working in this industry. Soundtracks represent a collective effort and can be so diverse.”
When she’s not creating in her Birmingham studio, Larin spends time gardening and traveling for both work and to meet up with her husband, who is a touring musician. She finds inspiration and positive energy along the way.
“I’m constantly inspired by the courageous acts of other people, such as poets, philosophers, and, especially these days, scientists – people who step out and are real explorers of the world and mind,” Larin muses. “They create and, as the final push, put it out for others to experience. How other people experience it is the true magic.”
She adds, “The future is incredibly bright – especially for the roles of women who are really breaking through. While lots of music has been done, there’s still room for a woman’s point of view. Women still have a lot to say…I try to be inspiring to others and fight negativity by bringing positivity – and always focusing on what’s possible.”
Story: Tracy Donahue
Photo: Laurie Tennent