Inspiration can come from anywhere. It can arise from unrequited love for a friend’s wife (“Layla”), a lifetime of systemic oppression (“Fight The Power”), or from whatever late-night horror movie you happen to find while flipping the channel (any Misfits songs.) For Liza Owen – a songwriting force whose lyrical prowess can be found on tracks from stars like Selena Gomez and BTS – inspiration came from her surroundings…and a shot of tequila. “Why Aren’t We Having Sex,” her debut single on Epic Records, was inspired by, as she’s described it, the most “ridiculously sexy” house she’s ever been in. That vibe is out in full force for the song’s music video, which sees the Cambodian-British singer live out her full red-neon light fantasy while wearing a white wedding dress and knee-high boots. The whole affair – which features an inclusive cast of her friends seemingly asking-and-answering the song’s question – starts off with Liza playing guitar on a front porch.
“That is my house,” Liza tells HollywoodLife. “The one in the video is my house. But the one that inspired the song. No, that’s. That was a swanky Palm Springs mansion.” Liza describes the home as a “gorgeous mid-century, just lavish, modern thing. I can’t even. It’s ridiculous. I’m gonna have to send you pictures because I’m still like, whoa. I mean, that I think that’s why the music came out the way it did because we were just like. ‘this is our house for the weekend. Like, let’s just embrace this energy.'”
“Why Aren’t We Having Sex,” according to Liza, was “the first song we [ASL aka Age.Sex.Location, an L.A.-based songwriting collective], wrote when we arrived that night. “I had just finished setting up the house and waiting for everyone to show up. As we start off all of our writing camps with ASL, we had our inaugural tequila shot. And then, yeah, we were just like sat in this main room talking about how ridiculously sexy it was. We jokingly said, ‘god, imagine how many people had sex right here on this couch.’ It was this huge couch-bed-1970s thing.”
“So, we’re just vibing in the room, just listening to some records. And then like someone pointed to a sign that read ‘Why Aren’t We Having Sex.’ And I was like, ‘okay. That’s a song.’ It was pretty instant. We were like, ‘oh my god, that’s an amazing title. And look at this house. Why wouldn’t anybody be having sex right now?’ It was honestly one of those songs that just wrote itself was really, really quick to come together. Yeah, you didn’t have to dig too deeply other than just embracing, you know, the situation you were in.”
The video for “Why Aren’t We Having Sex” was shot during the first few months of the COVID pandemic, and some of those giving in to their steamy desires in the film were some of Liza’s closest friends. “I had to ask the people who were going to give the most,” she tells HollywoodLife with a laugh. While she said she didn’t have all of her friends involved (“Not all of them are in relationships,” she said), Liza said she encountered an unexpected problem: having too many eager volunteers. “We realized, like after the first few people sent the footage and I was like, ‘there’s so much.’ I wanted to ask, like 15, 20 people. And it was just gonna be a huge montage. But, I was like, ‘whoa, we’re not going to enjoy each couple or cast member’s story. I had to kind of just be selective with that. And I wanted to reach out and include all kinds of different people in different situations.”
“The music video, you know, the original inspiration was about everyone’s experiences in quarantine,” says Liza, “in terms of being in relationships or not being in relationships. I was reading a lot of articles about new couples that had just gotten together — maybe a couple days — and then, they were locked down together. And then I was reading articles about like, there’s going to be a baby boom. But I’m also talking to my friends who are single, and they’re like, ‘oh, my f-cking God, this sucks.’
“And so, just the question, ‘why aren’t we having sex?’ took on a new meaning,” says Liza. “I wanted to cover all the different situations there – like my friend from London. I was like, ‘you know, I want the story to be true to you and your experience with this.’ And she was like, ‘you know, honestly? I’ve just been self-loving this time.’ Then we came up with the line in the bathtub by herself and, you know, and only other storylines kind of just covered hubbies or situations that people were genuinely going through.”
“It was authentic, and I think that was an effort to there was definitely an effort to be inclusive of all situations and sexual preferences also. Honestly, it just happened very naturally. They were just like I said, just my friends that I’m close with and who are up for doing it.”
“Why Aren’t We Having Sex” marks Liza’s solo debut on a major like Epic Records. Coverage of her earlier work often used the word “unapologetic” – especially when addressing her frank, direct, and unabashed approach to subjects like love and sex. For Liza, the term could be considered a “North Star,” a guiding force directing her artistic career. “It’s just important for me [to be that way]. No matter what the feeling on the message is, is to just say it and be bold with it. Be unapologetic.”
Obviously, when you think of the word ‘unapologetic.’ You think of saying something like scandalous. Right? ‘Talking about sex in such a bold way,’ which, it’s not – really. It’s me literally just saying it. I don’t think it is that bold, but I guess to other people it is, somehow in 2020.”
“I think also you can be unapologetic while being completely vulnerable and telling. You know, the truth on a really, really sad story. Like, being really honest with the details or something you’re pissed off about. A lot of my music that is yet to come and songs that I will be releasing, every single song is as a story or something that’s happened to me. There are some like that pretty a pretty autobiographical. I just go for it and then wait for the awkward moment when I have to play the song to the person. But it’s about like, ‘Oh, you know. Thanks for the inspiration.’ ”
Liza tells HollywoodLife that she plans to keep releasing music. “Now that I’ve started, I just want to go back to back. I was working on music for like – most of the songs that are coming out over the next year were written in the past year. So, they just feel like a really special moment in time, with the perspective I have, looking back on relationships, on a different struggle with love and career, and moving to Los Angeles. And, this whole, y’ know, struggle with the music industry and stuff.”
“The energy, it’s badass energy,” says Liza. “Like this next [song]? I feel cool when I listen to this. So, I’m really excited for that one.”
“Why Aren’t We Having Sex” is out now.