As part of the media coverage for FLOURISH (April 25-28), not your boys club will be having conversations with some of the folks that will be organizing, creating, and performing at the festival.
For the sixth installment of this series, I spoke with Marianne (she/they) the front person and songwriter of l i l a. Other members of l i l a include Anthony (he/him) on guitar and synth, Audrey (she/her) on drums, and Pascal (he/him) on synth.
it is / a mood / a small gesture / a fragile sound / like cracking ice / maybe / a flower / maybe / a landscape / or maybe just / soft & slow sounds / from somewhere / between the sea / and the sky / hoping to comfort one / somehow / sometimes / in the darkest times
Photo by Phillipe St-Pierre
You named on your social media that your first EP, songs from a room, bloomed l i l a. Can you speak more to this — the beginnings of what is now l i l a?
oui! i’ve been working on my music for 4 and a half years now and for the first 3 years, i did it under my birth name [marianne poirier]. it was okay at first, but then i started to think and feel like it wasn’t what i wanted. it was not that my name was wrong, that i didn’t like it or anything, it just didn’t feel like it belonged with my music and my art. i wanted to detach myself from myself somehow, and create a full persona for my work. i thought about changing my name for a whole year before finally doing it but it’s kind of funny because in the end, i think i always knew i wanted to be called l i l a.
it felt like it represented me well. when they hear/see/read it, people might think of the flower [lilas/lilac], people might think of the smell, people might think of the colour but then again, it’s none of it and all of it at the same time. l i l a is for the idea of the ephemeral, the revival, the softness, the mystery, the secrecy. i wanted people to know me for who i was becoming and who i am now and not what they saw me as 4 years ago [i was on The Voice..yah..and people kind of identified me as the cute girl wearing a hat]. it kinda made me mad somehow because that is not what/who i am. i am human and that is all. i carry oceans and i play sad music. i wanted something neutral, i wanted it to be mysterious. i wanted anyone to feel like they could be l i l a, you know ? i didn’t want anyone to assume anything about me and my music without even hearing/seeing it and so yah, changing my name was the first step i felt i had to take..and so i did, but i also felt like it wasn’t enough just to change name: i had to give [something] to people. the idea of recording my first EP on my own came really randomly, but it also seemed like the right/best thing i could do. i wanted to do everything myself to show people who l i l a truly was/ gonna be and so i handmade 50 physical copies, all with a different drawing, made the jackets, burned the CD’s, did everything and i said:
here is me: here is l i l a. [it worked pretty well, i must say. and i was surprised! but also very happy and relieved because i was already working on the next thing when it came out]
I really want to acknowledge and appreciate how everything that I’ve come to know about l i l a is very personal and very tender — your song writing, the bedroom recording by you, the unique drawings for each copy and each t-shirt. There is a certain kind of care here that isn’t often seen. Would you be willing to share the importance that carefully hand making and personalizing everything has for you?
seriously, that is so sweet. i am deeply touched and must say that i got kind of emotional reading that’s the way you perceived l i l a because that’s exactly what it’s all about: caring.
doing music/art is my self care and i want it to help other people too. it is crucial for me that anyone feels included and important all the time. everything i do is very personal, yes, but it is also inspired by [everyone and anyone] so that’s why i want people to feel like they can still belong to it and with it. i want them to be able to recognize themselves in all my art and the last thing i want is to be placed on top of anyone [i notice there’s a certain hierarchy and coldness that can take place in the arts and i totally hate it]. i don’t want anyone to feel like what i do is not accessible or unaffordable and i think that is why i feel the urge to do everything myself. i am a real pisces [drama drama] and every single thing goes straight to my heart. i am very emotional and i feel like i want people to experience l i l a in that way too. i think that doing everything [my merch] by myself makes me feel closer to people and it also makes people feel closer to me. i know and they know that when they buy something of mine, they’ll have a real piece of l i l a/me and that they’ll be the only to ever have it. i find that very beautiful and i want to always make sure that everyone buying something from me understands what it means to me and how important it is and how grateful i am for them to even consider my art. I couldn’t do less or else i’d feel like i am not being truly true.
I read in an article (2019) that at the songs from a room EP launch in the Saint-Jean bookstore in Montreal, folks in the crowd were sitting and listening on cushions in front of you. To me, this sounds very comforting, intimate, and safe. Is this the kind of a environment you are hoping to cultivate at your FLOURISH show on April 27th?
the whole idea behind that night was to recreate my bedroom [because that was where i recorded most of the EP] so my friends and i moved all the tables and chairs, put blankets and cushions on the floor, hung christmas lights and sheets on the walls and ceilings, burnt incense, hung my drawings and even served kombucha! it felt exactly like my bedroom and with all the books around, it was so lovely. i was scared people wouldn’t show up because i called the show very last minute, but we ended up refusing people at the door cause the place was too full ! it was such a nice night, i still get the feels.
for the release of my new EP [quiet as fire], i did it at « le Knockout », which is a independent record store downtown Quebec City. it felt like the perfect place to do it since i released the EP on vinyl. i did things a little differently this time, but the main idea was still to create this very intimate and comforting place. i made it all very dark and the [almost] only lights were those purple christmas lights i hung with shiny garlands on that decor that my dad had built me. the night started with a listening of the vinyl and then i played that new solo set with my loop pedal, mixing both music and poetry. i think people were very surprised by all of it and then again, it was so lovely.
i always want to try and create a whole universe when i’m playing. it can never be just music because in my heart it’s not just music. i want people to be experienced. i want them to let themselves feel [things]. i must say that i am in my solitude a lot when i play. i love solitude and i am not afraid nor sad when i go there. i feel peaceful, nostalgic yes, but also very calm and serene. i feel like it is too often a place within oneself that people are afraid to go? but i really want to try and have people go there during my shows. not to have them feel sad or anything, but to have them realize that it’s all ok. because the music is so deep and introspective, a safe and soothing space is needed and it is my job to create it for them. from the lightning to the way they are seated, i always try to create this intimate and comforting place in which everyone can just breathe and move or close their eyes or be happy or cry [i’ve seen people do it] or dance or feel whatever they want to feel.
i am definitely hoping and going to try and create something similar [but also different, of course] at my FLOURISH show! i can’t wait to see the place and people! xxx
In the same post that you mentioned the blooming of l i l a, you also mentioned that there are many more amazing things to come. Are you able to share what some of those things might be?
Oui mais non mais non mais oui!
i must admit that i always write that [new things are coming out soon] to try and keep people around and have them in that perpetual state of wonder and mystery.
Then again, I am constantly creating and working on new stuff: videos, songs, poetry, art stuff..and so i might just be working on new merch for Flourish! i don’t even know what i’ll be doing in an hour so who knows what’s coming up?
i guess i could say that we started pre-producing the second EP and that it is going to be crazy cool/good, but not out so soon yet. i will also have more shows coming up, one of which is gonna be pretty epic and it will take place this summer in Quebec City, my city. i cannot say more because it has not been announced yet and i think that people will still have to wait a few weeks before i can say anything serious about it all. BUT i can say watch out for it because you won’t want to miss it ! ! !
See l i l a live:
April 27th @ FLOURISH Festival, Fredericton, NB.
Contribution by Nikki A Basset