On the Way Up
Larissa Lam's voice has been described as powerful, soulful and passionate. Her music reflects various influences from rock to jazz and a closer look at her music reveals carefully constructed lyrics and melody. Citing influences from Stevie Wonder to Pat Benetar to Ella Fitzgerald to Sting, Larissa is the first person to admit that her music transcends restrictive genres. 'I have very diverse musical tastes and I think it shows in my own music. What really matters is whether or not I can present a good song. If it's a good song, people will listen.' Larissa recently completed work on her first solo album, On the Way Up, having spent all of 2000 collaborating with producer Jarrett Michaels. Michaels has worked with an array of artists such as Brandy, George Clinton and Ice Cube, The resulting product is a compilation of 13 original songs centered on the theme of relationships. Larissa explains, 'If you think about it, life is basically a series of relationships. I wanted to write about the relationships that were most important to me: friends, family, God and even strangers. Everyone has relationships in their lives and hopefully people will identify with at least one of the songs on the album.' Larissa has built a unique resume in the industry that includes being Chief Financial Officer of an independent label. Larissa's experience and knowledge of the music business led to her decision to start her own independent label, LOG Records. She has released the album, On the Way Up, independently through LOG Records in order to facilitate a more 'grass-roots' strategy. Larissa recognizes that a long-lasting career is dependent on fans who grow to care about an artist's development. 'I'm trying to build a relationship with my audience and not just entertain them. I'm a very enthusiastic and positive person. I hope that rubs off on the fans.' Larissa's musical journey began at age five when her mother insisted that she take piano lessons. Despite the fact that this 'only child' once resented having to practice the piano instead of playing with friends, signs that she was bound for greater musical achievements began to emerge. She wrote her first song when she was only 13 years old. At the age of 14, Larissa began singing in public in front of large audiences at various events in venues such as San Gabriel Auditorium and the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas. However, this future singer-songwriter-producer was not always music-bound. Growing up in Diamond Bar, California, Larissa had always aspired to follow in the footsteps of her father and become a doctor. This quickly changed at age 16 when she realized that music had great power in influencing people's emotions and thoughts. She was disappointed by a lot of the negative messages in mainstream music. Inspired by successful producers such as Quincy Jones and Babyface, she set out to pursue a career in music as a record producer and songwriter. In 1993, Larissa entered UCLA majoring in business economics and subsequently took on numerous internships and jobs at companies such as Polygram and Columbia Records. She also spent time working at Schnee Studio where albums for top artists such as Natalie Cole and Randy Travis had been recorded. After receiving her bachelor's degree in 1997, Larissa was recruited by independent dance/electronica label NSOUL Records to serve as the Chief Financial Officer as well as to manage various other aspects of the record label such as publishing, marketing and distribution. As doors to the business side of music opened up for Larissa, she also found windows of opportunity in singing. In 1997, she was selected as a finalist at the annual UCLA talent event, Spring Sing. Continuing to be hired as a singer for studio sessions and private events, Larissa received enthusiastic feedback about her voice. It was during her time at NSOUL that she joined the singing group, Nitro Praise, which performs Gospel/dance music. Sharing lead vocals, she had the privilege of traveling all over the country performing at many festivals, conferences and churches. She also lent her vocals on the recordings of Nitro Praise 5, Nitro Praise Live! And Nitro Praise Christmas 2. The collective Nitro Praise series has sold over 200,000 copies worldwide. In 1999, she left the world of business affairs at NSOUL Records behind to pursue singing full-time. As a solo artist, Larissa has been performing locally at various venues and events. She has also headlined concerts in L.A. and New York. When performing with her backup band, this energetic vocalist loves to throw in some improvisational breaks and get the audience involved. With her strong stage presence and down to earth sincerity, Larissa is gaining a growing fan base that has allowed her to pack out many venues wherever she goes. Larissa hopes that her music will be able to inspire and challenge a diverse audience for years to come.