Los Angeles-based artist Alex Lilly is a renaissance female.
In addition to the writing, arranging, producing, and playing of her own music, Lilly has established a notable career out on the road as a part of the touring bands of such esteemed musicians Beck, Lorde, Ry Cooder, and the bird and the bee. When Lilly’s in L.A, she has stayed busy throughout the years with her own projects such as Obi Best, Touché, Zero DeZire, and The Living Sisters.
Now, following-up “Paranoid Times,” her debut under her own name, Lilly is bringing all of her talents, ideas, and her singular voice to the table in the form of 2% Milk, her debut full-length album, out Jan. 19th, 2019 via newly-formed Release Me Records.
Lilly’s songs – she describes her sound as “sexy psychological thriller” – are synthy, syrupy, and suspicious i.e. there’s something going on here that’s not only pop, but actually pops. The intrigue that abounds on 2% Milk moves the listener beyond toe-tapping and finger-snapping, straight to brain-mapping.
This ability of Lilly’s to take a song out of the realm of merely entertaining to intriguing is all over the album’s first single “Distracting Me,” a tune dedicated to the idea of enjoying the annoying.
“Most of the time, I don’t like distractions, they get in my way,” she sings. “What made you the exception? Showing up and all I can think of to say: I love it when you are distracting me from what I think I need to do.”
“What better testament to loving someone than when you enjoy their interruptions?” Lilly explains of the tune. “I resisted a particular friend’s efforts to distract me for a long time but when I finally gave in, I realized it was fun.”
Lilly’s lower tolerance for inanimate irritations informed the album’s songwriting process.
“I feel like I can write more easily when I don’t have phone service,” she says of her time on an island outside of Vancouver where most of 2% Milk was written.
“I’d get up early and write, sometimes at my computer, sometimes walking around and I’d record melodies into my phone,” she remembers.
When the time came to turn the island demos into tracks, Lilly convened with Jacob Bercovici of The Voidz, who shared her sensibilities.
“Like me, Jake has no fear of the ridiculous,” she explains. “He ended up co-producing six songs.” Additional production credits go to Andy Bauer (of Twin Shadow), and Lilly herself. Another standout track is “Infantile,” a collaboration with Lilly’s friend, Daedelus.
“I asked him if he had any instrumental demos lying around I could write a melody and words to, and he had this beautiful piece that sounds like an intricate mechanism. I was so excited to add something to it, like a fancy chain to an already remarkable pocket watch.”
The album’s title track “2% Milk,” was adapted by Lilly from a poem by Jacqueline Suskind, a Los Angeles-based poet known for improvising work on the spot off of a given subject.
“I love this poem, it’s pretty angsty in nature, but also weirdly soothing, so I put it to music, and tinkered with it to make it rhyme,” Lilly explains.
2% Milk is the first release for the newly-formed Release Me Records, founded by musician Inara George, both friend and bandmate to Lilly via their previous work together as part of The Living Sisters, Zero DeZire, and when Lilly plays live in the bird and the bee.
“I met a very young Alex around 2006 when the bird and the bee was putting together a live band,” George explains. “We needed singers to help with our harmonies, and Alex was suggested to me. I feel so fortunate that we connected, and I’ve always been impressed with her musicality, her ability, and her motivation. I started Release Me to shine a light on Alex, and all the other insanely gifted musicians I’ve had the pleasure of working with.”
2% Milk, the essential debut album from Alex Lilly, is scheduled for release on Jan. 11th, 2019 in digital, CD, and vinyl formats.