Meet Lizzy McAlpine, Music’s Next Big Thing

The 22-year-old dropped an album, sold out a world tour, and preformed at Coachella, all in this month.

If you haven’t heard of Lizzy McAlpine yet, get ready. The 22-year-old singer-songwriter is sitting right on the precipice of Top 40 radio fame, propelled by the success of her sophomore album, five seconds flat. The album, a 14-song narrative about the various stages of heartbreak, represents a big step in a new direction for McAlpine, who is branching out from her indie rock roots. five seconds flat also has some big-name features, including a song with FINNEAS and another with Jacob Collier. The album clearly struck a chord for many, debuting at No. 6 on the US Spotify album chart and No. 9 on the global chart.

Now, McAlpine has found herself with an ever-growing fanbase (proud members include Phoebe Bridgers, Shawn Mendes, and Camila Cabello) who sold out her first-ever headlining world tour. She also found herself at Coachella, performing her duet with FINNEAS, “hate to be lame,” during his set last Sunday.

As she gears up for this summer’s five seconds flat tour, which includes an opening slot alongside H.E.R at Coldplay’s tour stop at Lincoln Financial Field in her hometown of Philadelphia, McAlpine chatted with V about her songwriting process and her future goals.

The five seconds flat album cover.

V: First of all, congrats on your album, it’s so good. And congrats on selling out your tour, too. That’s insane.  

Lizzy McAlpine: It’s so insane.  

V: What are you most looking forward to about the tour? 

LM: I played an album release show in L.A. where we sent out a mailing list invite to a bunch of fans. That was the first show that I played that was like, solely my show. It was really insane to look out into a crowd and be like, ‘wow, all of these people came here to see me.’ So, I’m really excited for that. 

V: I also saw that you’re supporting Coldplay at their concert in June, which is also so insane. How is the pressure different when you’re preparing for a show that you’re headlining versus one that you’re opening for? 

LM: Well, I feel like the pressure on the Coldplay show is going to be enormous no matter what. Like, that’s a huge opening slot. 

V: True, true. 

LM: But I mean, I feel like I get nervous for any show that I perform at. It doesn’t matter if I’m opening or headlining, I kind of put the same amount of pressure on myself for both of those things. I don’t really see a difference. 

V: Moving into your album and your writing, do you have a songwriting process that you always do for every song, or do songs just kind of come to you? 

LM: The process is just me sitting down with a guitar and hoping that something comes out. Whenever I feel like a song needs to get out of my brain, I just sit down and it usually comes out. And if it’s not ready to come out yet, then it won’t happen, and I just have to wait and keep trying until it does. 

V: So, do you usually write your songs all in one go then? 

LM: Yes. I think that when I write fragments of songs then leave them for a while and come back to them, they’re just never that good. I feel like the best songs that I write are the ones that happen in like, 10 minutes. 

V: As you were writing this album, did you know it was going to have this, like, arc about a breakup and the stages of heartbreak, and that’s how you wanted the tracklist to go? 

LM: When I write songs for an album, I’m usually not thinking about the overall through line just yet. I’m just writing about what I’m going through at the time. I feel like they just naturally fall into place how they’re meant to be. 

Photo credit: Gus Black.

V: I saw that you did a short film to go with five of the songs on the album. How did you decide to do that, and what was that process like? 

LM: I came up with the concept on my own, then I made like Pinterest boards and Google Slides, and had just pages and pages of writing about how the songs all connect. Then, I went to the director, Gus Black, who I literally found on Instagram. I DMed him and I was like, ‘Hey, I have this really weird idea’ and he was like, ‘I’m down.’ And then we kind of just went from there. 

V: Do you want to act eventually? And have like, a Harry Styles-esque double career? 

LM: I mean, I was a theatre kid in high school. I’m not proud of it, but I was, and I definitely still am. I just love live theater, and I definitely want to act in the future. 

V: Like in a musical or a play?  

LM: I want to do everything pretty much. I have a long, long bucket list. I want to be on Broadway, and I want to do the musical route and then maybe like a stage play, and then I also want to act in movies.  

V: Big goals!  

LM: [laughs] Yeah. 

Photo Credit: Gus Black.

V: Back to DMing people, I guess that’s your thing, because I also saw that you DMed FINNEAS. Is that literally just how the whole collaboration came about?  

LM: I covered one of his songs back in the summer of 2020, and then that’s how he followed me in the first place. And then, I was trying to get together features for the album, and I was debating whether or not I should DM him or if I should go through his managers, because he’s kind of famous. In the end, I just decided to DM him because that’s what I’ve always done and it’s worked so far.

V: What was it like performing with him at Coachella last weekend? 

LM: It was honestly like a movie. I’m so grateful that he even asked me to do that. Like, he did not have to do that, but he did. It was so surreal.

V: It looked like a movie too with the Coachella live stream. 

LM: Yeah, it was just so much fun. 

V: Okay, shifting gears a little bit, but not really because Coachella is like one big fashion show. How would you describe your personal style?  

LM: Oh gosh, that’s hard. Honestly, I feel like I’m still trying to figure it out. The stylist that I’ve just started working with, I feel like our styles are very similar, but she is a little bit more eccentric than me. So, she pushes me out of my comfort zone, and my style is evolving a lot because I’m working with her. 

Photo credit: Caity Krone.

V: I also saw that you have some tattoos. Do you have a favorite? 

LM: I think my favorite right now is the most recent one that I got. It’s like a little chair with an end table next to it and a lamp above it, like a little living room scene. It’s one of only two color tattoos that I have. 

V: Do you know what your next one is going to be?  

LM: I’m actually getting another one on Sunday. 

V: Oh exciting. Do you plan them out beforehand? 

LM: Yeah, I like to plan. I’m a Virgo. 

V: Okay, last question. Did you always know that you were going to be successful in music? 

LM: Well, I never had a backup plan. Maybe that was naive or something, but I never even thought that I really needed it. I wasn’t like ‘Oh I’m gonna be famous one day,’ I just knew I liked music and knew I was kind of good at it. I was just trusting the divine timing of it all and the universe. 

five seconds flat is available now on all streaming platforms. The tour kicks off in San Francisco on July 20.

Discover More