‘Ethereal Punk granola’ | Interview with Lily Kelso

Driving down memory lane, The Car incorporates hazy guitars and indie rock aesthetic, bringing back the sweetest stories of sibling bonding. Read our discussion with the talented artist!

Describe your sound in 3 words

Ethereal Punk granola

Tell us a few things about your new single The Car, the story behind it and why it is dedicated to your brother.

I wrote the lyrics of “The Car” to commemorate the time my little brother and I spent in our family’s old mini van during high school. Being the first to drive out of three siblings, I was the school pickup committee.The inside jokes, deep conversations, and overall sibling bonding that came out of our daily commutes is foundational in my relationships with my brothers, especially my younger one Peter who is a long time athlete (hence “jersey three sizes too big”). I deeply enjoy writing songs as though I’m leaving time capsules for my future self, and “The Car” is exactly that. 

Do you remember what music you used to listen to while driving the car to and from school?

Ah it’s a pretty random list but a few highlights are MGMT, Steve Lacy, and Beach House. We definitely have our fair share of guilty pleasures as well, which I’m not at liberty to disclose ;).

Artists and people that have influenced you?

On my first EP and this upcoming project, I have had much help from my amazing producer/engineer John Velasquez and The Gromble’s Spencer Askin in Los Angeles. They are both fantastic at what they do, and are two of the people who inspire me to pursue music as a career. In addition, I’ve had a slew of amazing English teachers who have made me love writing. As for musicians, some of my all time favorite include Joni Mitchell, The Cranberries, Hozier, Elliott Smith, Taylor John Williams, and Bon Iver. Other more recent highlights are Phoebe Bridgers, Flyte, Dawes, and Andy Shauf. 

What It’s Like to Be a Woman in Music?

It’s definitely a mixed bag. Entering the male-dominated engineering and production field at Berklee College of Music has undoubtedly made me a more self-possessed and assertive person, and really helped me to solidify my opinions about all things music. It has also pushed me to my limits, and at times made me question whether there is a place in music for me. There are many ways that the industry still has to grow for all people groups to have an equitable seat at the table, but it has been encouraging to see the ways that this up-and-coming generation of musicians is striving for progress. I am excited to be part of the changes that will create a more open minded industry for women and other marginalized groups of people who make great music.

Should we expect a full album? Do people still listen to full albums?

The climate around full albums (any extended works of media) today is an interesting one. In many different areas, we are seeing the truncation of media- just look to any social media platform and it’s millions of seven second videos, and I fear that it is changing the public’s appetite for works that take more time to consume, or aren’t a constant dense stream of stimulus. That being said, I believe that to make a full album telling an overarching story is an art that should be treasured. As an emerging artist who is trying to balance music and commerce, I have found that a comfortable middle ground is the EP format. “The Car” is the first of three singles belonging to my next EP, which will be released mid-June. More information on upcoming music can be found on my Instagram @lilykelso.

A song you are convinced was written about you?

I would certainly be honored to take the role of someone’s muse but I can’t say with certainty that I’ve inspired any music thus far in life. However, one of the songs that resonates with me in a way few others can is “Both Sides Now” by Joni Mitchell. In it she tells the story of how aging affects one’s perspective on the world, pitching heart-wrenching lines like “From win and lose and still somehow,
It’s life’s illusions I recall, I really don’t know life at all.” Joni’s ability to get right to the heart of a subject in such a vulnerable and artful way will never lose its novelty to me.

What would be the tagline to the sitcom of your life?

Funny you should ask: my upcoming single is actually called “Six Seasons” based on the idea of describing a relationship as a TV show. While it’s lyrics apply to a more specific story than this question is asking, it goes to show I love thinking about the interplay between life and fiction. I think my tagline would be a line borrowed from my song “Details”: “Dorothy was right when she said there’s no place like home.” As excited it is to grow up and continually have my world expanded (musically and otherwise), it is coming back to my roots that helps me stay grounded and keep things in perspective.

Thank you!

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