The Portland Playlist: Liv Warfield [Previously Unreleased Song Premiere]

Vortex Music Magazine

Local artists tell Vortex about the songs that inspire their music—plus a couple of tracks they just can't live without. Listen to Liv Warfield's playlist and then download a brand new, previously unreleased track from 'The Unexpected' sessions.


Soft-spoken and prone to heartfelt laughter, this soulful R&B diva and Prince protégée knows how to own the stage. With her second record out now and featuring Purple One-penned lyrics (and executive production), The Unexpected sees Warfield pushing her personal boundaries and delivering a “live music” experience, both on stage and off. Her creative catalysts are plentiful, but she’s “learned to be fearless” and “gained a lot of my inspiration from him.” You know who she means.

J.J. JOHNSON: “Go Chase Cleo”

“I like a lot of the old Blaxploitation movies and one of my favorites is Cleopatra Jones. I thought, ‘If I could write the music for this movie, what would it sound like?’ That was my whole inspiration for the album The Unexpected, and then it just went from there.”

VINTAGE TROUBLE: “Blues Hand Me Down”

“Right now, I’m really lovin’ those cats. These guys are the truth—their sound isn’t forced. It just feels real. It feels throwback, but it’s a push forward and refreshing and exciting.”

LENNY KRAVITZ: “American Woman”

“I feel like live music is missing on the radio—everyone’s sticking to a formula. When there’s no variety, [kids] that are listening to the radio think that’s all that’s available” out there.

MINT CONDITION: "Breakin' My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes)"

This is music "that's instrument driven—not everything that's hot [or a top hit on the radio has to be] made on the computer. That's why I want to bring live music to the forefront."

ISAAC HAYES: “Ike’s Mood”

“Everything he does is so musical. Sometimes it took 10 minutes for him to come into the first vocal [on a song], but it was so musical.”

JAMES BLAKE: "Retrograde"

"I'm listening to him a lot. This track feels haunting and beautiful at the same time. I like how he approaches his vocals."

PRINCE: “Something In The Water”

“It’s just his voice—and he plays piano. It’s those two things with him that I could listen to all day long and never get tired. He does it now with 3rdEyeGirl and I’m just like, ‘You sure you don’t need me to sing backup on that?’” [Laughs]

SLY 5TH AVE: Akuma

“He plays bari and flute, and he’s in the New Power Generation horn section. His record is introducing me to jazz in a different kind of way.”


“Jarrod is a Portland singer-songwriter. He definitely has his own voice but also has reminiscent sounds of the past, like Stevie [Wonder] or Donny Hathaway. But he has something else deeper. I can’t wait to hear his whole album—he’s got a masterpiece waiting for the world to hear.”

BETTY DAVIS: “They Say I’m Different”

“She was boundless. She was gutsy, she took no prisoners. Whatever she said, she said it. Musically: rock, funk. She’s pretty hardcore and she was limitless—she could do whatever she wanted to do.”


Tony Ozier, Gretchen Mitchell, Storm Large, Tope


This previously unreleased track from The Unexpected sessions "was developed six years back when I was going through a lot of up and downs in my career. I was falling short a lot of ways and I needed help—folks would say they were 'worried' about me. If that was the case, why didn't they reach out to embrace me? I'm sure everyone has had this experience in their life but I wanted to translate this to a much broader way of thinking. What if the people of the world don't recognize struggle? What if we just keep on passing by when people or the environment are yearning for help? 'It's on the news, I'm dazed and confused, my eyes can't even take the pain, seems to me that the world is changing. I'm telling you we need your love right now, no more victims crying out, let's reach out our hands to pull each other out—don't you know that life can be filled with so much more more more?!' I wanted it to have a head nod beat to it—maybe even scrunch ya face a bit—but I want people to listen to the musical value of it! It's musical with a message!"

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