Since releasing their first record back in 2012, Lillie Lemon and Erica Wobbles have always believed in fantasy and fun. Determined to be true to themselves and to ensure that the music world they've always loved remains vibrant and energetic, they inject some child-like wonder into everything they create and, as a result, produce tracks that stand out for all the right reasons.
As they continue to impress fans and critics alike and with their career showing no sign of slowing down any-time soon, as they continue touring and promoting their latest track "Burning Bridges", Lemon and Wobbles took time out of their busy schedules and kindly agreed to this interview with our staff writer Rebecca.
PW: Please sum yourself up in five words.
Lillie Lemon: Synthpop with a sour twist.
PW: When did you first realise that you wanted to be a part of the music industry?
LL: Music didn’t start to percolate as a career option for me until I started working with Erica Wobbles. I was an operations coordinator for the NSA at the time, and had just been promoted from a position with DHS. But I was never suited for it - I needed a creative outlet more and more as our project began to take hold, and eventually I realized I needed to take things to the next level.
Erica Wobbles: There was a point I hit in my teenage years when I realised that I would be playing music for the rest of my life. It was the one thing I was best at. It took me several years to figure out where I fit into the business, and I feel like even that is something that is constantly changing. I held down several church, wedding, and weekly nightclub gigs in my home-town before going on the road with Lillie in September. There was a point where I had a different gig every night, and even four in one day. Very much a working musician. Now we spend most of our time traveling to shows.
PW: Was there any one band/artist or song you heard growing up that made you go 'Yeah, I want to do that?’
EW: I remember one of my turning points: a college musician friend of mine introduced me to some electronic bands and DJ duos, and I realised I wanted to be able to do that. I was intrigued by any sort of electronic music with live musicianship. It seemed like an undeveloped field where you can make your own rules.
PW: Which bands and artists would you say you're most influenced by and sound similar to?
LL: I find myself influenced by the Mountain Goats when it comes to song-writing, though we definitely have that Passion Pit / CHVRCHES feel to our music.
PW: Can you remember the first concert you attended and record you bought? What impact did they have on you musically, artistically and personally?
LL: The first record I bought was Third Eye Blind’s self-titled album. I listened to it constantly. I was raised in a community that listened to a lot of country music and Christian rock - but when I first heard the funky pop rock 90s sound of Third Eye Blind, I realized it was the first band whose music had ever made me 'feel' anything at all. It made me branch away from what everyone else was listening to and lead me through a whole smorgasbord of music with genres I didn’t even know existed. I think in the end, it’s the band that brought me to alternative music.
PW: Is there a story behind your latest track "Burning Bridges"?
LL: This track was inspired by the East Tennessee bridge burnings of the Civil War. It’s a tragic story about the futility of the burnings themselves, and how so many families metaphorically burned bridges between one another during that time in our history.
PW: Which of your songs would you say you're most proud of and why?
LL: I’m really proud of the way “Sinking” came together on the EP. I feel like the track really stuck well to the original intentions of the song and it conveys a feeling that most people who hear it can appreciate.
EW: I remember for the third track on the EP, “Can’t Get Home”, Lillie wanted to add a jam section to the arrangement. We’d already been doing the song a certain way live, but I immediately knew what to do and we fleshed out a really cool wandering jam section. It’s definitely an understated track, and I doubt it’ll ever become a single, but it’s still a favorite.
PW: Where do you find inspiration for your songs?
LL: I don’t actively search for inspiration - most of my songs occur to me as a matter of grace. Usually, I’ll be plunking around on a guitar and a piano and some kind of vocal line will apparate, and I’ll build a song around it, but it’s rarely forced and I don’t find myself editing lyrics often, if at all.
EW: I’m still figuring that one out. We seem to write in spurts. Often I’ll search for a new chord progression or a new piece of gear to inspire me. I’ll usually create some sort of jam, and we might write something to that. Or sometimes we work the other way - usually just piano and vocals, and then arranging something more electronic out of it.
PW: Is there any one song you wish you'd written? If so, which is it and why?
LL: Lyrically, I would have to go with “Autoclave” by the Mountain Goats. It’s got one of the best, self-deprecating choruses I’ve ever heard: “I am this great, unstable mass of blood and foam/And no emotion that’s worth having could call my heart its home/My heart’s an autoclave.”
PW: What to you, makes a perfect song?
LL: It’s a combination of lyrical content and clever composition to compliment the lyrics. It’s hard to come up with examples of this - but the one that comes to mind right away is Sufjan Stevens, Casimir Pulaski Day. It has a bit of everything - a slow build throughout the song, brilliant instrumentation to compliment powerful lyrics.
PW: I'd like you to put together your dream show line up - yourself and three others bands or artists who can be living or dead. Who would you choose and why?
LL: The pressure is to pick someone dead so we can give the world the gift of one more live show with them, but I find that kind of thing to be sort of selfish - if I were dead, and had one more day on earth, I definitely wouldn’t want to spend it playing with some low-level act and not spending time with my loved ones, so I’m going to have to turn down the option of picking a dead artist, for their sake.
Instead, I’m going to pick my current heroes - the Mountain Goats because I completely adore John Darnielle’s songwriting; CHVRCHES because we’d be an awesome match-up, and Prince because - well, he’s Prince for crying out loud!
PW: How important are reviews and such like to you? Do you care what the press think?
EW: I think reviews are important inasmuch as they make people aware that our music exists, meaning that they’re important when they draw any sort of attention to us at this level.
PW: How has social media helped you in terms of getting your name and music out to an audience?
LL: If it weren’t for social media, I feel like a lot of our shows would go unattended. It’s expensive to keep up with printing hundreds of fliers, tough to paint a town with ads when you’ve never been there yourself. It gives us the opportunity to build our brand from behind our computers, and share our music with the world with immediacy. It’s also frustrating, however, because we have to compete with so many artists that have the same tools that we do.
Would you agree that bands and artists need to be socially interactive in order to get ahead?
LL: Absolutely. I find it naive to think that social media doesn’t matter in getting your music out there. Some of the biggest current stars made their start on YouTube - Justin Bieber is only one example of this - and interacting with your audience is a great way to get feedback and increase turnout to shows.
The social dynamic between fans and artists is paramount now; you can’t really get away with being a self-absorbed rock-star anymore. Fans crave these connections, and I think it’s healthy for the artists as well, because touring can easily lead to having a secluded life. I think if your newest songs have all turned into songs about touring and life on the road, it means that you’re losing the ability to communicate on the same level as your audience.
PW: Could you choose the best show you've played in your career so far?
LL: Our first album launch was probably the most memorable for both of us. The entire Monterey CA community came out in support of the event, including local papers and radio. We felt truly loved by our community that night.
What are your future tour plans? Would you like to get overseas in the near future?
LL: We’re currently on tour until December, and our next one is starting up again around April 2016. We would love to go overseas, and we’re most interested in European countries at the moment - especially Germany, as we both have a lot of friends there now through Couchsurfing.
You get to play in one venue for the rest of your career, anywhere in the world. Which do you choose and why?
LL: For me, it’s definitely Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado. Some of my favorite acts have performed there and the location is stunning.
PW: Finally then, Where would you like to see yourself five years from now? What's your ultimate ambition?
LL: In five years, I’d like to see us touring internationally with the help of a label. Ultimately, a consistent, long-term performance and recording cycle would be ideal.
The goal for me has always been to be able to live comfortably playing the music I want to play. I think any big-time goals beyond that should come from a natural place of loving what you do, and of other people loving your art enough to support you on whatever level you may be at.