Eliza Wren (born October 7, 1980) is an American singer-songwriter and actress from Austin, Texas. She heads the band, ELiZA WREN, best known for their Return to Oz music score, and co-heads the band, Haun's Mill (novelty folk band) with Nord Anderson.
At her childhood piano recitals Eliza was granted the nickname, Victor Borge, as her performances were more about turning toward the audience and making them laugh than about her actual playing. Though musically inclined, it was performing that interested her more. Though she had years of homemade live performances under her belt, she first began acting professionally around the age of nine, influence by no one event in particular, just her unusually magnetic desire to perform.
In contrast, she began composing music at a very distinct moment. In 1988, she attended her sister's piano recital. The teacher announced that one of the pieces was composed by Mozart at the age of nine. Eight-year-old Eliza, unaware of Mozart's even earlier accomplishments, thought 'nine' to be some sort of record and sought out to beat that record. She went home that night and began composing. Since that night Eliza amassed a large number of cassette tapes of original compositions.
On November 22, 1995, after channel surfing, Eliza happened upon The Beatles Anthology on TV. Previously turned off by rock music in general, Eliza was instantly changed. The show immediately seeped in and inspired her to play the guitar and start her own group. Finding a guitar in her sisters room, that night Eliza began to figure it out. The very next week she attended a dance. One of the performers at the dance handed her a guitar and wanted to see what she could do so she gave her first performance there.
ELiZA WREN band
ELiZA WREN was established in 1999 in Austin, Texas. The first musician line up included: Eliza (vocals, guitar, banjo), Justin VonKennel (guitar, mandolin, electric sitar, pedal steel), Adam Crowell (electric and stand-up bass) and Bobby Miller (drums). The first album was recorded by Jim Eno of Spoon, in his studio and included the talents of Spoon bassist, Josh Zarbo and Justin VonKennel.
The group then went through a number of band-member changes. Such an example includes thirty-two bassists in two years time. ELiZA WREN performed at the 2001 North by Northeast Music Festival in Toronto, Canada and the Anti-Folk Festival in New York, New York. In this time Eliza met Wes French who asked Eliza to join in his group Hallicrafters. He also took on recording the ELiZA WREN band. Official bandmates at this time became: Eliza, Justin VonKennel, Nathan Aloysius (bass), Chris Stelly (drums). The group recorded the album, Peradventure with Wes French. ELiZA WREN went on to perform in the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah and the 2003 South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas Eliza then moved to Utah and reformed the band to eventually include members: Nord Anderson (guitar), Mike Crandall (bass), Dan Pectol (drums). Other notable bandmates from this era include: Barrett Ogden (bass), Linwood Bidoulph (drums), Justin Taylor (drums), Catherine Allred (violin, tamboritza), and Jon Minor (bagpipes). The group performed at the Utah Arts Festival, The Brown Bag Concert Series and for President Grimsson of Iceland. ELiZA WREN then began recording with Hyrum Summerhays and Eden's Watchtower. The group spent three years in the studio recording a double album that syncs with the film, Return To Oz, as influenced by Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Rainbow project. The album and performance premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Actress and star of the film, Fairuza Balk attended and hosted the event. The event continues to tour the country.
Haun's Mill (originally Haun's Mill Massacre, inspired by the historic event; the name was changed because it "pinned us as heavy metal to many people before they heard [the band], plus it clouded [their] more upbeat songs") was formed in 2006 by Eliza Wren and Nord Anderson as a duo. The band was inspired by the song, Mt. Pleasant written by Nord Anderson about the small town of the same name, in Utah. A former costume designer, Eliza began constructing costumes for the group. Haun's Mill first performed on Halloween at Club Velour's Annual Monkeygrinder Halloween Bash. The event was sold out. The group went on to perform in the 2009 Utah Arts Festiva, Brown Bag Concert Series, Helper Arts Festival and had music featured in a number of films. The group expanded to a full band and included members: Nord (vocals, guitar, banjo), Eliza (vocals, banjo, guitar, toy piano), Hyrum Summerhays (accordion, piano), Mike Crandall (stand-up bass) and BB Melanson (drums). The group recorded their first full band album at Audiospace in Salt Lake City and released it in June 2009.
Returns to Oz
Influenced by Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Rainbow, Eliza composed an original rock score that synced with the 1985 cult classic Disney film, Return To Oz. Unlike The Dark Side of the Moon, Eliza's album was exactly the same length of time as the film making it a double-album. In 2003 Eliza WREN performed the score live at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, in Austin, Texas. Later, after moving to Utah, the group began recording with Hyrum Summerhays and Watchtower Records. The band spent three years in the studio. The album and performance premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Actress and star of the film, Fairuza Balk attended and hosted the event. The event continues to tour the country.
The group was formed by Wes French and Brian Locklin in Austin, Texas and was influenced by Italian Horror films and electronic muddling. Erich Ragsdale first introduced Eliza Wren to Wes & Brian who were searching for a lead singer whose voice resembled an orphan child carrying a butcher knife. The group collaborated and recorded their album, Pony, in 2003. The album also included the talents of Joy Sappington on the piano and Erich Ragsdale on a garden variety of odd instruments.
Eliza began her career as a professional actress around 1990, mainly performing in theatre productions and occasionally film. In the last five years she has moved almost completely to film productions. Some of her roles are: Geeky Girl in Disney's Return to Halloweentown, and the guitarist in I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer.
|2001||"ELiZA WREN"||—||—||"Public Hi-Fi Recording Studio"||Living on the Outside|
|2001||"ELiZA WREN"||—||—||Chocolate Records||Ripple Effect (compilation)|
|2003||"ELiZA WREN"||—||—||Pony Records||Peradventure|
|2007||"ELiZA WREN"||—||—||Eden's Watchtower Records||Faint Transmissions Vol 1 (compilation)|
|2007||"Haun's Mill Massacre"||—||—||Elastik Marbles Music||First Edition|
|2008||"ELiZA WREN"||—||—||Eden's Watchtower Records||Faint Transmissions Vol 2 (compilation)|
|2008||"ELiZA WREN"||—||—||Eden's Watchtower Records||Dead Trees - Music for Christmas (compilation)|
|2009||"ELiZA WREN"||—||—||Eden's Watchtower Records||Returns to Oz (double album)|
|2009||"Haun's Mill Massacre"||—||—||Elastik Marbles Music||Haun's Mill|
|2012||"Haun's Mill"||—||—||Elastik Marbles Music||Away|