Lilly Among Clouds, Singer and Songwriter
We only needed to listen to her songs once to be completely sold. Lilly Among Clouds has enchanted us with her voice that sounds like gold and wildflowers. And surprised us with songs that make us feel melancholic without the sad part - and she certainly has a big career in front of her! We have talked with her about her inspirations and how her life as a singer looks like now.
Lilly, did you always know that you wanted to write songs and sing?
Well, I never knew it. I just did it. I never planned to be a musician - it was never my “big dream”. People kind of had to convince me that I got talent (maybe). I always wanted to be a dancer when I was small and did not practice at all for my piano lessons. Still, I always created my own melodies and sang along while helping at home or playing with my toys - but it never felt "special" to me. Music was a natural part of my life - whether I earn my money with it or not. As a grown-up it was more like a game: “What else could I do with my voice?“. I never thought it would be good enough for anything else but my own entertainment.
How did you get started as a professional musician? Was there a moment when you knew: “This is it?”
Maybe there was a moment where I knew it, but it took me quite long! In the beginning, my own music was never good enough for me and I did not believe the kind and encouraging words I received after the first couple of gigs. I thought that they were all just polite to the tiny little girl trying to sing her songs. After every gig, I was very hard on myself for every mistake I made. Then my dad once said: “Either it will give you strength to always get better or it will take you down.“ He meant my need to always reach out for perfection. That made me think a lot - where did I loose my childhood fun in music? I then somehow learned to love the imperfection. I did not wanted perfection to take away my fun in singing and writing melodies, even if it means that not everyone will like my kind of music. And I learned to laugh about my mistakes - even on stage. Imperfection gave me kind of confidence to sing the way I like and write songs the way I like - despite other people thinking they know the answer of how to become successful. I think somewhere along this development I felt this "this is it"- moment and I did start to look out for a team to make it real.
What does your life as Lilly among Clouds look like now?
Well, it is a life of learning how to be patient! I wrote so many songs in the last couple of years and I finally made it to the point where I've got the team that I needed to finally start with my very first album. But still you record many old songs and I am kind of always interested in writing new stuff. So next to recording a debut album, there is always the discovery of new melodies - and you wonder if anyone ever could hear the new song you just wrote. So I really really need to learn how to be patient! Other than this, we do have to make a lot of plans about how and when and where to release the album. Very much organizational stuff. But still: The recording sessions started as well - yippieh!
What do you enjoy most about your job? Right now, you are touring around quite a bit…
I enjoy music on stage very much. I don't like to sing in private as much as I enjoy it on stage. Difficult to explain - but on stage I feel like I am allowed to perform. You will never see me showing off any of my skills next to the stage or at private parties. When it is an official concert - I feel like people did decide for themselves that they wanted to listen to my music. So I let myself go and try new things with my voice that I did not practice at home, and it somehow works. Exploring your voice with an audience is very exciting. Also, I love to travel and still being able to be at home and have extra time for writing songs. It is so good to have free time for new songs and not only write them in between lunch and the next shift at work!
How long does it take from the idea of a song until it is done? What is the procedure - or: Is there even any procedure in the first place?
Well it depends on whether you decide on a song or it just "happens to be there" - I don't know how to explain this! I was for example looking for a more folk song to get some variation in my live set. So I decided for major chords and a folk rhythm and then wrote something on purpose - this is how "Remember me" was created. It is a very entertaining challenge for every songwriter to do something out of your comfort zone. And it depends whether you start on the piano or you find yourself singing one sentence not knowing where it came from (which happens to me most of the time). But it does not matter if I start on the piano or with my voice. In my case, it always starts with a melody and a single sentence. My theory is that this sentence already chooses a topic for the whole song and the melody decides if I am sad about that topic or just trying to process something that happened.
I have to confess after being excited about a new song, I sometimes get a little bit lazy in the process. This can mean I only write a second verse when it is time to perform it on stage or record it in the studio - then finishing the song can turn out to be quite stressful.
Which artists do you like to listen to in your spare time?
Oh, I love to listen to Lykke Li and dance to it like crazy.
Where do you get inspiration from? Who has inspired you when developing your own music style?
I think it started with an Ace of Base Album that I got from one of my siblings. Then I did love Alanis Morisette's "Jagged Little Pill" (still my favourite), Regina Spektor or Duffy, for example.
What are your plans for the near future?
Finish the album, release it into the world and sing these songs on stage! The more music in my life, the better. ➸ If you think that Lilly sounds nice when she talks - you should hear her sing! And either start with our favorite song Keep or watch her beautiful, minimalistic video of Blood And History: