There are few movies that define a generation. For the Gen Xers of the 1990s, one of those movies was Reality Bites, the 1994 tale chronicling the search for love and finding direction in a twenty-something’s post-college life. The movie was the stage for landmark roles for Hollywood A-listers such as Ben Stiller, Ethan Hawke and Winona Ryder. But for every great movie, there is a great soundtrack, and no song was more popular on the album than the single from a then-unknown Ivy League graduate named Lisa Loeb.
For the past decade, Ms. Loeb has combined a mix of subtle beauty, musical talent and hip style to make waves not only in the music and film industry, but in television as well. Her latest foray onto the small screen is her reality show, Number 1 Single, where she is the epitome of a young, successful, artistic single woman looking for love in the Big Apple. Loeb took some time away from promoting her latest album, The Very Best of Lisa Loeb, to talk with us about dating, the changes within the music industry over the past decade and how she feels about bloggers ogling over clips of her prancing around in her panties.
So how did the “number-one single” spend her Valentine’s Day?
I actually played on TV with my band on the Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson and I went out to dinner with the band. I spent the whole time in LA. I spent the morning with Tyra Banks and the evening with Craig Ferguson and my band.
Is it normally a holiday you are fond of?
I love Valentine’s Day. I love red heart candy; I love cakes that are white with pink frosting; I love little valentines that are from a boyfriend or a friend — you know when you’re in third grade and everybody in the class brings you valentines. One of my best friends — her birthday’s the day after Valentine’s Day, so I’ve always associated Valentine’s Day with her and stuffed animals and candy and cookies. I love Valentine’s Day.
What do you think about you being called the modern-day Mary Tyler Moore?
I like it. I think it’s the Mary Tyler Moore of the ’70s — the career woman who lived in Minneapolis who seemed pretty happy and secure in her life but at the same time was looking for love and at times had a little vulnerability when it came to trying to find the right people in her life.
What made you choose to attend Brown University?
I wanted a place that was going to be challenging academically, but also someplace where I could be creative. [Before college] I had worked so hard [throughout] my life in school; I wanted someplace where the focus was a little more on learning and a little bit less on grades.
What were some of the best experiences that you took away from college?
I think the concept and reality that you can create a life that is very challenging where you’re around a lot of people you respect and where you’re just really driven to be better but at the same time a place where there can be a lot of acceptance and you feel supported. That’s how I felt with my music at Brown. There was a great audience there who wanted to listen to music, which gave me a lot of security, and at the same time there was a great music community, which helped me write the best music I could. Also, a good thing I think I learned at Brown is it’s important to have fun and not to take things so seriously.
What made you want to move to New York after college?
All these record companies were interested in signing my band. I also had a lot of friends who lived in New York, and it was always a city where I felt really at home. It felt like a lot was going on there, and I needed that in my lifestyle.
Do you feel more at home on the West Coast or in New York?
I feel more calm in both places. It sounds really strange: in New York City in general I feel more at home, but — like right now I’m walking around this park in my neighborhood in Los Angeles and it’s very suburban and it feels very homey here.
How did you befriend Ethan Hawke?
Ethan was a friend of some of my actor friends at Brown. It was sort of just a group of friends. We all used to just hang out together. There were musicians, playwrights, actors — all kinds of creative people that were always sort of chilled, almost like a gang around New York, you know?
Was he helpful in getting you on the Reality Bites soundtrack or did that come about some other way?
Ethan took my song up to Ben Stiller, which was really helpful. But in the end Ben Stiller, along with the music supervisor and producer — a bunch of people made the decision to put it into the movie, but Ethan was the one who made the first move.
Your music really spoke to the younger generation in the ’90s. Do you think it appeals to the younger audiences today?
Talking about the show, you’ve kind of become an unofficial spokeswoman for Airline dating. Have you ever thought of trying to get residuals for the free advertising?
Oh that would be nice, but it doesn’t work that way.
Is there anything about the episodes portrays you in a way you don’t like?
Actually I agreed to do the show if I could be involved in the post-production of the show. I wanted to make sure that whatever was represented on TV realistically represented what happened while we were shooting. So I’ve actually looked at everything to make sure everything is real.
Were you embarrassed at all that after the episode aired with you appearing on the Isaac Mizrahi Show? All of a sudden clips spread all over the Internet and people posted it on their blogs and things of that nature.
I think it’s pretty funny, actually. It’s kind of a prank when I did it, and it’s pretty funny that it’s gotten that far.
Do you normally have a spontaneous side like that?
Yeah [laughs], I do spontaneous things like that. I just can’t help it.
How important is it to you to find somebody of a similar faith?
It’s important for somebody to be interested in my faith. It’d be nice if they shared some kind of interest in spirituality and becoming a better person and some connection to their own tradition.
I know people who are Jewish that aren’t really into their tradition at all. It doesn’t necessarily have to be Jewish, but somebody who’s just similar and they believe in what we both practice to work together and it will be at least do-able to raise children with the beliefs that we have.
Your advice for someone like you: a smart, hip and pretty girl trying to find a date in New York City?
Leave your apartment. Go outside! Try to go meet somebody; don’t sit home and complain.
If there was one person throughout history that you could go out on a date with past or present, who would that be?
Hmm. I would like to go on a date with Albert Einstein.
He just seems really funny and smart and has just sort of a love of life, and he’s very cute.
What about if you could date one fictional character?
Hmm, that’s an interesting question. I’m a little bit interested in Dorian Gray, but that’s kind of a dark character.
You have a degree in comparative literature. If you could write a novel, what would it be based on?
I’ve been thinking about that lately, I’m not exactly sure A lot of people who write their first book, it might up being their autobiography. I do like a book of short stories called Kiss Kiss by Roald Dahl and the short stories by J.D. Salinger
You have the best-of out now. Do you have any plans to record another studio album after this?
Yeah, I’ve actually been working on some new songs, and I’m working on a new album as well as another children’s album.
Would you say you are more content with the state of music now or did you like it better when you were coming out in the ’90s?
I think now it’s great because there’s so much more freedom for musicians but also they don’t question you when you go into different fields and try different things that you enjoy anyway, like when I got to do my cooking show on Food Network or making a kids’ record or a kids’ reality show.
Your music and fan base span about two generations. What are some differences you see between youth today and from a decade ago?
People seem more and more in a search for a connection to other people now. I don’t know if it’s the Internet or the fact that so much is available to kids now. There’s so much information available to people now, but I think they also look for something deeper.