Do512 Family Featured Babymakers, Claire and Lauren from MILK {Moms I’d Like to Know}, chatted with former member of the band Asleep at the Wheel, Elizabeth McQueen. McQueen has recently gone solo and she took some time to catch up with the ladies from MILK about her latest album, her upcoming show and what it’s like being a musician and a mom. You can win two tickets to her upcoming show by leaving a comment on MILK’s original post explaining why you need a music-filled night out! 


Photography by Todd V. Wolfson
Photography by Todd V. Wolfson

It’s been two years since we last chatted with the lovely songstress, Elizabeth McQueen. At the time she was living the rock mom lifestyle, touring with Grammy-nominated band, Asleep at the Wheel, and taking her two young daughters on the road. Back then, she told us the adventure would end when her oldest daughter started kindergarten. That time has come, along with exciting new opportunities for her solo career. She describes the fear and fun of leaving a good gig to follow her own beat.

What have you been up to as a musician? What have you been up to as a mom? Has it really been two years? That seems so crazy, because in my mind y’all came to my house just the other day. But that seems to be the way of things these days. It seems like time speeds up exponentially with each child we add!

Musically, I’ve been traveling with Asleep at the Wheel for the last two years, playing shows all over the country and Europe. We’ve taken the kids with us to almost every state in the lower 48. And last year we took the kids and my parents to Europe on a tour. It’s been pretty amazing. An epic family vacation and lots of music all at the same time.

But that era of my life just came to a close. After eight and a half years with the band I played my last show as a member of Asleep at the Wheel on New Years’ Eve. It’s a very strange feeling to think that from here on out I won’t be in the same band as my husband, Dave Sanger; that we won’t be taking our kids with us on the road and that I won’t be playing Western Swing for a living.

On a solo level though, my main focus has been working on the “Laziest Remix” EP with my friends from St. Louis, Brothers Lazaroff. Almost exactly two years ago, we decided to see what would happen when they took a couple of songs from my 2010 release “The Laziest Girl in Town” and imbued them with their influences — noise rock, hip-hop and R&B. We’d been talking about melding our sounds for a couple of years, and then for fun we decided we would try it. What came out of that was so compelling to us that we decided to make a full project out of it. We mounted a successful Kickstarter campaign in October 2012, and are finally releasing the six-song EP on January 7th.

It’s been amazing collaborating with some of my best friends in the world. We went from catching up with one another once every couple of months, to talking every day, bouncing ideas of one another, and creating what I think is great music. And it has really opened me up to musical possibilities that I hadn’t previously felt comfortable with.

As a mom, I’ve been traveling with my girls, and watching with amazement as they grow from babies into toddlers into big kids. It’s such a mind expanding experience, and so hard to grasp sometimes. I mean, some days I feel like I’m just holding on, getting from one moment to the next, and then other times I get to stop and revel in these fleeting moments of the wonderment that is child rearing. The older my girls get, the more fun we have together, which is weird since I thought we were at maximum fun level when they were smaller. But they delight me and challenge me and every day become more and more their own people, which is a beautiful thing to see.



Photography by Todd V. Wolfson

What motivated you to depart from Asleep at the Wheel? It was really time to leave. Dave and I always said that we would get off the road when our oldest daughter, Lisel, was ready to attend kindergarten. She just turned five, so we’re due for the real school experience this year.

Apart from that though, it had been getting more and more expensive for all of us to stay on the road. Even with the support of the band, for which I will be eternally grateful, we were still having trouble making it make financial sense. With two kids over two years old you’re always buying three plane tickets for every flight (the third one was mine). Plus, the cumulative exhaustion of traveling with the kids was wearing on us. It became apparent that one of us needed to be able to take control of our schedule.

Creatively, too, it seemed like a good time to leave. The new direction that “The Laziest Remix” has taken gives me a good starting place for launching a solo career. I’m so excited by the possibilities of where I can take my music, and now I have the time and the energy to channel that excitement into my work.


What makes you the most nervous about 2014? What makes you the most excited? For me, striking out on my own is the cause of both my nervousness and excitement. They are two sides of the same coin.

I worked for a really good boss who ran a great organization for a long time. The only thing asked of me in my eight and a half years with the band was to show up on time and sing good. Seriously! I was not responsible for the business or production workings of the band. In many ways I was taken care of. Even after I had kids, my only added job-related responsibility was for Dave and I to get ourselves to the gig (which I’m happy to say, we always did. We never missed a gig due to a baby bus breakdown!)

Musically, too, I’m used to being in a band were the musicianship is of a high caliber and that consistently delivers a great show night after night.

So, when I think about a solo career, one where I’m responsible for so many decisions that I’ve not had to deal with for so long, it’s both exhilarating and terrifying. I get to call the shots! Yay! But what if I make mistakes? Eek! I get to make the music! Awesome! But what if it doesn’t touch people? Double eek! Sometimes I feel like my mind is careening back and forth between these extremes. I’m trying daily to remember to breathe and work on doing the next right thing, rather than get swallowed whole by the unknown future.


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What inspired you to remix “Laziest Girl in Town?” Way back in my early twenties I interned at KUT, and was in charge of listening to music submissions when they first came in. I somehow came across a CD from the “Verve Remixed” series, and it pretty much blew my mind. They had a series of DJs remix a bunch of twentieth century jazz, and I just dug it the most. When I made my 2010 record “The Laziest Girl in Town,” which was very much based in the aesthetic of twentieth century vocal jazz, I had it in my mind to try to recreate something like those Verve remixes. I even floated the idea to Brothers Lazaroff that they should do some. But then I got pregnant with our second child, and it was all I could do to release the record. I had no energy to take on any other projects.

I was so happy when we picked up the project again. And the work that Brothers Lazaroff did with those songs exceeded my wildest expectations. I expected a companion piece to “The Laziest Girl in Town,” when really I think the Remix versions hold up completely on their own merit.


What is it like making a record and being a mom? Is it hard to find the emotional and physical energy for both? I have to say, a Remix record is a pretty great model for being a mom. Honestly, Brothers Lazaroff did the bulk of the work, and I was in the amazing position of hearing the mixes, giving my opinion, and then waiting for the next mix. It was about as much as I could have done, given the touring schedule and child rearing duties that I was enmeshed in at the time.

But recently I’ve started writing and recording again. I finally feel like I have the bandwidth to do that, now that the kids are five and two, and now that I won’t be constantly touring.

Energy wise, I’m finding that if I set aside time specifically for writing and recording, then I can get it done. As a mom, I’ll always have probably less time and energy than I’d ideally like. But I try to use the time I do have wisely.


How cool does it feel to be a mom musician putting out a record with hip hop influences? Well, I really like the record, so it feels great. And I love the hip-hop artist we collaborated with on the track “Gone Solid Gone.” His name is Thelonius Kryptonite and he’s a really beautiful soul. I had heard about him for a while from Brothers Lazaroff, but through this project we’ve become friends. Another one of the blessing of this process.

I guess, in mom terms, it feels empowering to step outside of my comfort zone. I’ve been in the Americana world for so long, that it would have been easy to stay there — to make a project that was based in the same traditions as the other projects I had made. But I allowed myself to be pushed forward by my friends and collaborators Brothers Lazaroff, and I am in love with the resulting work. And that’s something I hope I can keep doing because it’s good for my girls to see their mom broadening her understanding of the world and its possibilities.



You’ve been on the road with your kiddos for their entire life. What will you miss about that? In our family, we like to say we’ve been on an epic family vacation for the last five years. It’s been so amazing, and I will miss so much about it: The fact that we were all together in a touring situation where usually families are apart. The fact that we’ve crisscrossed the country so many times in the baby bus that there are entire stretches of highway that are as familiar to me and my family as neighborhood streets. I’ll miss watching my kids navigate airports and hotels with the greatest of ease. (Well, it’s not always easy but they are superb travel buddies.) I’ll miss watching the girls play with their road family — their uncles in the crew and band and road grandfather, our soundman Pappy Jim.

It has been so much the rhythm of our life, that I think I’ll miss it much more than I can even predict. But at the same time, we’ll get to experience Austin on a continuous basis, and Austin is a town full of potential adventures. It’s also full of friends who we’ll be able to connect with, without the interruption of constantly being on the move. And I think I’ll enjoy that more than I can possibly predict, too.