Exploring A Sibylline Psychedelic Odyssey With Lilah

Chill out, put on your headphones, and come to Lilah’s world...

“My actual birth name is Delilah, but it’s Lilah for now, so I just cut off the De-,” she jokingly tells me, as she gets ready to head out to the Circus. “I’ve had the most hectic day, and I literally joined our call an hour early and was wondering why no one else was joining, so I just said I’ll be back. ”

Lilah… an evocative and soulful musical artist, a part-time painter, a Shakespeare enthusiast, and a self-proclaimed enigma above all else, is the budding brit artist in conversation today. Growing up in her East London home filled with eclectic music, cult-classic films, and surreal art, Lilah’s sound and soul is a lush mirage of spell-binding euphemisms and heartening nostalgia, offering her listeners a boundless haven to meditate on their emotions, connect with their world, and escape the‒for lack of a better word‒utterly fucked up universe we live in.

It is no surprise, then, that with the release of her new EP 'Atlantis', Lilah explores all the shared underpins in her life and her music, from intimate connections to inner conflict, from self-discovery to self-acceptance. The album and its creative process, which spanned the duration of two weeks, is described as therapy for Lilah.

“I’m going to therapy every day and he’s basically my therapist because I’m immediately so comfortable with him, enough to talk about how I feel which is unusual for me.”

Who is Lilah and how would she describe herself—feel free to use metaphors, euphemisms, and anything really?

Lilah: I always say I’m an enigma. I just think that I don’t even know who I am yet. Well, on the one hand, I do know who I am, I’ve always known. I know what I stand for and I know what I love to do. On the other hand, I’m out here in the world still discovering everything, growing up, and learning things. I like to use the word enigma because I know who this Lilah girl is but I can’t really describe her myself.

You’re almost, if not a ghost when it comes to your presence on the internet, excluding the likes of Instagram. Is that a conscious decision you’ve made?

Lilah: Yes, definitely. Even the way I use my Instagram, it’s more so like a mood board for me, just because I’m always conflicted; I don’t want to become part of the tech world that we live in. I hate it so much, every last part of me hates the internet and everything about it. And then, the other half of me is always saying how amazing and innovative it is because of the way it keeps us connected.

What worries you most about joining the internet or tech wave?

Lilah: Not trying to be a hater, but I hate what it’s done to people. There are definitely beauties to it, but it’s really just an awful place. I am intrigued though, so I do want to stay relevant and up-to-date on how we can explore the different parts of it because I understand that’s where life is going.

When did music first make its way into your life?

Lilah: Music has always been in my life. My parents always had the most eclectic taste. My dad was more Indie pop like Beatles, Bowie, and that was always his vibe. My mum was always a Kanye person, but usually, she’d have on the most random songs. I think at some point I might have joined the choir, and growing up, I was always a performative person. So naturally, I think it was the path that I was set to take on.

The word “sibylline” comes to mind when listening to your music, this project especially, as it radiates a recurring mysterious aura. At the same time, there’s so much depth and underlying euphemisms within it, teaching and communicating an important message, for both you and the listeners. What was the process of making this album?

Lilah: It started off with me and Jay Warner, and I can really just describe the process as therapy. I’m going to therapy every day and he’s basically my therapist because I’m immediately so comfortable with him, enough to talk about how I feel which is unusual for me. It immediately formed a connection and friendship with him, and I think that’s why we were able to create such vulnerable, beautiful music. The music came from truly real conversations we were having in those small room studio sessions. We then decided to do a camp. We’d write with guitar loops but nothing too produced, because I feel songs are really amazing when it sounds good even super stripped back. I also have a little vendetta against drums. We created our little world and spent two weeks in a London studio with live instruments. I love live instruments because they do feel a lot more organic.

You mentioned Atlantis being a place of refuge between all states or being—a place simply to exist and reflect. It gives the feeling that there’s an emotional and self-therapeutic underpin on which this album is built. And there’s a lingering notion of soul searching and attempting to understand your own complexities, almost like an attempt to regain control. Do you feel as though that’s what this album is for you?

Lilah: Exactly that! I always say that the project is a coming-of-age project. When I think about things like the teen movies and stuff that helped me grow up, I just see this project as something like that; it’s about me navigating from my late teens to early twenties which is super hard. I saw a meme the other day that said, “Are you okay?”, and the response was, “No, I’m 23 years old.” That’s me. Though I think we’re all going through the same thing, and I find it comforting when I realize that. Especially with the internet and everything in front of us, it’s so easy to constantly feel alone, but when someone creates something comforting and relatable, then suddenly you feel a lot better, and I think that’s what the EP was. The name itself, Atlantis, was already the name of the first song before I chose to use it for the project. I’m very much interested in how psychedelic music can open our minds and take us on a journey. I want the effect of listening to my music to be the same effect as if you were taking in a psychedelic itself, and going to another world. I love the idea of that so much. I’m just interested in science in general, so for me, I’m always watching videos and interviews of people who have taken acid and things-alike, even though it’s something I’ve never done in my life. I do listen to psychedelic music a lot of the time, and I do feel it can genuinely transform you without the drugs themselves.

I fell in love with 'Euphoria' while listening to the album. It starts off very delicate and tender, and then gradually unfolds the layers as the song plays on. It conveyed this vivid feeling very similar to sitting extremely still in water and your body starting to motion with its flow, often subtle and intimate. What influenced that sound?

Lilah: 'Euphoria' was a bit of an anomaly of a song. When I was making the project, it’s always been known that it was going to be cross-genre in sound, and 'Euphoria' was particularly special to me because it had more of an Indie vibe. The structure was so short but yet it was enough because of the concept of the song. Sonically, I knew people who preferred mainstream music might not necessarily like the song, but it was my favourite because of that reason too. In terms of feelings in the project, it follows a story; the first song is sort of blasé in itself, and then the next is an oxymoron because it’s still blasé but I’ve fallen a bit. Then it goes to me being tired, like fuck this shit, I’m done. And then 'Euphoria' is sort of a feeling of fresh air, in the sense that, this is finally over, and I’m sad about it but I feel relieved at the thought that my life is going to change in preparation for the next stage.

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Would you say the album is the transition itself or is this the result of the transition?

Lilah: I think making it was the transition, and now I’m here; this is Lilah, this is the beginning of my world. I’m hatched, and that was sort of the idea with releasing the first song. I know that I’m going to grow. It’s also interesting because even my friends who know me personally… I’m always this happy person, I don’t care what’s happening and always happy, and very whatever the weather type of person with no emotions, even though deep down I’m dying. So them listening to this project are sort of like “wow didn’t know you had emotions or felt things,” and I find that beautiful about this project because it’s helped me really express myself. I’m an emotional being, so please be gentle with me.

Would you say making yourself vulnerable through your music is something that you find solace in or are you still needing to feel comfortable with it?

Lilah: Yeah, it was definitely an adjustment. When I first released the singles, I felt very vulnerable and didn’t want to be around people because I felt like I had nothing to hide anymore; the mystery was gone. With my music, that’s me, that’s my soul, so I definitely felt that way. Though I think it’s been very good for me because now I have to address the issue, and I’ve accepted that maybe my emotions will be something that mainly comes out in my music, and it’s helped me work on expressing myself and navigating the relationships that I have with people.

What is one message, if you could pinpoint something, that you want your listeners to take away from your music?

Lilah: [laughs] These are always things I feel I should pre-think of before now. The truth is that I want people to know that it’s ok to feel your feelings. You never stop growing up, and you never stop learning, and you need to spend the time to figure out how you’re going to navigate through your growth, and that’s all completely normal and okay.

In addition to being a musical artist, I know you also often paint in your own personal time. Would you say those two worlds ever converge?

Lilah: Definitely! I think as I go on, it will cross into one another even more than it does now. Painting is even sometimes a preferable way for me to express myself because it’s very motion-oriented, and I find painting so… I can’t even explain it. I wanna eat it sometimes. It’s a perfect way for me to energetically get things out of me, and it’s a big part of me. My mum is an artist, works in film, sculptures, and I guess very much multi-disciplinary. Growing up, we would always take a pad and paper, and paint in galleries when we went out. So that being said, I would definitely love to bring that more into my music.

Can you paint the sonic landscape of what this album sounds like visually? If you were to create a world and this EP was a visual, in a sense, how would you paint it?

Lilah: I don’t know sometimes because immediately my mind goes very erratic, and my hand starts swinging all over the place and I’m going ham. Though the project itself, underlyingly, is also erratic because I know, at the time, that’s what my emotions were, though the outcome is very beautiful. So maybe something erratic in the background and something beautiful in the foreground. I’d definitely use blue, and maybe some red, depending on my mood.

How does imaging, or the representation of notions centred on self-care and positive thoughts relate to your output, and more specifically this project?

Lilah: Yeah, I think quite a bit, but more from an angle of saying we’re all nuts, to some extent, and that’s totally okay. Not from the happy, let’s meditate, and be the positive angle, but from the “find out what makes you tick” angle. And yes, I do believe in being positive in life and I want everyone to be like that, so I try to keep that vibration to a top-notch.

I know you’re a fan of Shakespeare, and some of his work has touched on notions of insecurity, and evidently often the notions of idealizing love and feelings alike. How much of his work influence your music?

Lilah: A lot, particularly with this project and Summer Night’s Fling, which was originally going to be called Midsummer Night’s Fling, obviously based on his play which is also one of my favourites in the world. Shakespeare also just came from my upbringing. My mum would make us go to one play of his a year, at least that is. We’d go in the summer to Regents park in Central London. I’ve seen endless amounts of different productions of each play, and some were really so beautiful, but some were also absolute shit and boring.

What happens to you after the release of this EP? What are your plans or goals?

Lilah: I made this project, and then COVID came, and as someone who loves to travel a lot but wasn’t able to do that, I want to be able to do that now. Live life and get some new experiences, learn and gain some new knowledge, and then come back and make some new stuff. I already have some things planned too, and at some point, I do want to make a full album after experimenting with new things and my work.

Last question for you, slightly more personal, and feel free to answer it in any way you’d like. Are you happy?

Lilah: With the EP, It’s perfect because it’s come out exactly how I wanted to translate everything that I was feeling inside of me. The feeling of it, how it makes me feel, the reactions, and all, it’s done everything I wanted it to do even before I’ve released it. And then in life, I’m happy. Usually, I’m happy, Generally, I’m usually happy. I try to stay not too happy and not too sad because when I’m too happy it leaves room for me to drop back down. I’m not gonna stop myself from being really happy but I find a balance and stay centred.

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Words: Olisa Tasie-Amadi Jr.

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