Lily and the Parlour Tricks Make Us Dance at CMJ

CMJ (or College Music Journal), a New York music events and publishing company, hosts an annual festival taking place at the many music venues throughout the city. This festival features hundreds of up and coming bands from all around the country. Lily and the Parlour Tricks played at Rockwood Stage ll on the Friday of the festival, keeping us completely captivated for the next hour and half. Lily Claire, the groups lead singer, was kind enough to sit down for a post-performance interview.



Hundred Stories: Wow, what a wonderful show. It seemed like you guys had a real baring of the venue and your audience. How long have you six been playing together and do you play at Rockwood often?


Lily Claire:  Thank you. We've been together for about 3 years. Rockwood is one of our "home bases" in New York City and we make it a point to play there every two or three months, at least. It's one of few venues that offers a free show to our fans and really quality sound and a nice stage for us.


HSPR: What has been your favorite show to date, and what about that performance made it your favorite?


LCN:  Tonight really took the cake for us. We always set out to have a good time ourselves, because if we're having fun, we'd like to think it's contagious and our audience will therefore have as good a time. This doesn't always hold true, of course, but tonight was a pretty perfect example of it working. We were having a blast. We didn't want it to end. When you hit a stride of the audience feeding off your energy and vice versa, there's nothing quite like it. So tonight and a few others, definitely a few of our shows in Austin during SXSW 2012 were comparable.


HSPR: What other bands are you inspired by? Any films, books, exhibits?


LCN: I'm musically inspired by American pop music from the 1940's and 1950's, and bassline-heavy rock n' roll from the 70's onward. The Andrews Sisters, The Chordettes, Elvis with the Jordinaires, T. Rex, Led Zeppelin, on and on. I could list forever. But I am generally inspired by non-fiction or re-tellings of true stories in books or film; true crime, real stories of madness, murderers, social disaster. My favorite book is ‘In Cold Blood’ by Truman Capote.  I like the idea of trying to rationally and accessibly tell an irrational person's story.


HSPR: Your costumes are amazing. Have they always been the same, how have they evolved, and where do we get that look?


LCN: Girl groups from the 60's, the Shangri-Las or the Ronettes, they look impeccable. James Brown's orchestra always looked impeccable. Brian Epstein told the Beatles to wear the suits and the shoes. It was all part of the whole aesthetic, part of the job. I like the idea of presenting a package.  It can go either way; "they look good and they can play" -- or "they can play, and they look good".  There's something about us dressing for a show similar to how my father would put on a suit for work in the morning to go to the office. You have a job to do; time to dress the part.


HSPR: You must be creatively stimulated by New York, can you articulate that process? And, what you do when you need a break?


LCN: I've lived here my whole life, so I'm not sure how I'd be stimulated differently elsewhere.  As I said before, creatively I am most stimulated by books, reading. As long as I had access to a bookstore or library wherever I was I think it would keep my creative wheels turning. Otherwise living in New York is insane musically. So many shows, so many friends who also write and play. It's both wonderful and overwhelming. You have to set limits for yourself.  When I need a break I stay home and cook and watch scary movies. That's pretty consistent.


HSPR: We loved the way that your band interacted while performing, you guys must practice a lot and know each other quite well. We would love to hear about the process of rehearsing for a show, versus recording a song or album.


LCN:  We actually don't rehearse that much!  We used to. Whenever I've written something new we come together to arrange it, or put together a new cover or something. But overall we are fortunate enough to be playing frequently enough that we don't have to rehearse as much. Often our shows are our rehearsals - we are comfortable enough with each other to test things out, and be able to laugh about them if they don't work exactly how we'd envisioned. Vocals get separate rehearsals though; we have to make sure those are as tight as can be. Honestly - and this is going to sound very cute, forgive me - we just enjoy each other. The six of us have a great time together. We genuinely love what we're doing. That itself is a game changer. It's the least stressful band any of us has ever been in. I'm so happy to hear that that comes through in our performance.


HSPR: Finally, what are your favorite NYC music venues to play at? To see music at?


LCN:  To play in, we love Rockwood Stage II in Manhattan and The Bell House in Gowanus. Those are also some of our favorite venues to see music. Brooklyn Bowl, too. And The Living Room has amazing sound.

To find out more about Lily and the Parlour Tricks..