The only response can be physical. When Lily Kershaw sings, it resembles a gathering storm. Emotion wells up before its expulsion in a rush of poetic clarity and provocative intensity. Unsurprisingly, the Los Angeles singer and songwriter deeply felt every note on her 2018 EP, Lost Angeles [NETTWERK].
Moreover, this emotionality remains as infectious as it does inescapable.
“I’ll sing and literally have to massage my chest after, because I feel things happening in my heart,” she affirms. “Something’s coming out of me. It’s painful, but it’s also beautiful. Music is always the way anything makes sense. If I’m going through something, I’ll write a song, listen back, and get answers from my subconscious. It’s the way I unlock aspects of who I am.”
Audiences have gotten to know the enigmatic artist little by little since the release of her 2013 full-length debut, Midnight In The Garden. Bowing at #5 on the Singer-Songwriter Chart in the U.S. and Canada, the breakout single “As It Seems”clutched #1 on iTunes Top Singer/Songwriter Songs Chart and impressively moved 30,000-plus digital downloads first week before eventually scoring over 7.2 million Spotify streams. Acclaim came from USA Today, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Times, and Billboard as she landed syncs on Criminal Minds, Grey’s Anatomy, Finding Carter, and more. She cut her teeth on tours alongside Radical Face, Mason Jennings, and Bobby Bazini, to name a few.
As much as she nods to the spirit of Laurel Canyon sirens a laJoni Mitchell, she siphons a cinematic intensity from a longstanding passion for film composers like Alexandre Desplat, Dustin O’Halloran, and Jóhann Jóhannsson as well as a curious inner sound…
“The trippiest thing for me is when I go to sleep at night, I hear orchestras,” she admits. “It’s been like that for as long as I can remember because my parents played a lot of classical music around the house. When I’m writing a song these days, I’ll hear different parts from an orchestra. Those larger aspects of production innately come with the idea. My mind is fully open in waking life in a way that it had only worked in sleeping life before.”
In producer Danny Burke, she found the perfect collaborator to infuse that sensibility into her sound.The plan was for Lily to just record a song. Within a week-and-a-half, they had finished nearly an album’s worth of material during 2017. The music and lyrics spoke to this psychological Sturm und Drang brought on by interpersonal tumult.
“I was honestly lost,” she explains. “Nothing was making any sense. Life was very amorphous at the time. There wasn’t a path or a set direction. With art, you have to be okay with being uncomfortable. All of my relationships—whether friendships, romantic, or to myself—felt really undefined as this cycle of uncertainty was coming to an end. Writing brought a lot of understanding to my life. It was a snapshot for sure. Much of the EP isn’t just made of the original takes, but the actual moment I wrote the songs.”
She introduced the project with “Party Meds.” Punctuated by minimal production, her heavenly delivery anesthetizes as she details “a ridiculous and debaucherous L.A. party,” which gave birth to the titular term “Party Meds.” Appropriately, Nylon praised it as “purely raw, authentic, and unfiltered.”
The 2018 single “Another” followed with its blissfully technicolor stop-motion video premiered by Refinery29. A lull of ethereal acoustic guitars ebbs and flows in tandem with her angelically haunting croon assuring, “Your lover’s gonna love you”—as if scrawled on a handwritten bedside goodbye note.
“I was in a moment of experiencing a little bit too much pain in a relationship,” confesses the songstress. “When something is painful in a way that isn’t promoting change or healthy resolution, it’s time to let it go. I wanted to create something that absolved me of leaving’s residual guilt. If it’s not working, don’t cause any more suffering for yourself.”
Whether it’s the orchestral swell of“Hurricane Punch” and “Moonlight” or the gentle piano and vocal “beautiful existential crisis” on “Grand Illusion,”Lily incites a reaction that’s not only physical, but spiritual as well.
“Hopefully, this makes you feel better or think about something in a different way,” she concludes. “That anyone would give their time or attention is a gift. I’m just a person who wants to make others feel good and reduce as much suffering as possible.”