FLOURISH FEST: INTERVIEW #6 – l i l a

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

lilaPhoto 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.

April 28th @ bloom fest, Sackville, NB.


Contribution by Nikki A Basset

FLOURISH FEST: INTERVIEW#5 – FROOTI TOOT-E

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 fifth instalment of this series, I spoke with Rachel / Tomato (she/her), Claire / Banana (she/her), and Lauren / Peach (she/her) from Frooti Toot-E (NB) – a project that started out as just a joke on instagram between these high school pals.

frooti tooti.JPG
Photo by David Cheng

I *loved* the article that The Aquinian recently published that centers all ages programming at FLOURISH and interviews the youth that have been booked to perform or install art at the festival (Flatt, 2019). In this article, you were quoted saying that Frooti Toot-E started as a joke on instagram – could you let me, and the readers, in on this joke and the formation of the band?

Tomato: Well basically Peach and I took the course “Sound and Recording” this year at school. We got to make music using Logic Pro – basically a fancy expensive version of GarageBand. We found it really fun to make funny music and the joke kind of started with “oh my god, imagine if we started a band and it was just weird, funny music! imagine if we PERFORMED!”. We just thought it was funny until one day we said, “wait.. like.. we could easily do that, we just have to make an instagram and soundcloud. It’s grad year – why not!” and the band kind of took off from there.

You were also quoted saying that you had never intended to play a show, but then it “became something real”. How did this happen? Does Fredericton often embrace and centre youth in the music and arts community?

Tomato: No, we honestly never thought it’d be possible to perform live since most of our music is just us singing over a backing track we made ourselves, but our music teacher (shout-out to Mr. Webber!!) really encouraged us and gave us a way for this to happen which was incredible. Performing live has been super fun and I honestly am super grateful to Mr. Webber for helping us start that.

And yeah! I think Fredericton definitely has places where they encourage youth to be creative with music and other forms of art – the Charlotte Street Arts Center has been an awesome place for us personally and i know they do a lot of events to encourage youth to be creative. I think that’s awesome.

What can folks at FLOURISH fest expect from your set at shiftwork on Thursday, April 25th?

Banana: Well.. definitely something they probably haven’t seen before. Our sets are pretty unique but definitely playful and fun – the whole set has sort of a storyline to it which we think is cool. We hope people will like it!

I’ve seen and heard many folks (Jane Blanchard, Motherhood, The Aquinian) refer to Frooti Toot-E as fashion icons. Can you tell me about your aesthetic and why this is a critical part of your performance?

Peach: haha! The day jane said that about us we all freaked out !! Motherhood thinks we’re FASHION ICONS?!?

But yeah, fashion and style is something we really like to incorporate into our performances. Because we are all fruit, we make sure to dress in our fruit colours, so i’m dressed all in pink, Rachel (tomato) in red, and Claire (banana) in yellow.

We just like to have fun with our outfits and be as creative as possible when deciding what to wear to our shows. We’ve worn skirts from value village as shirts and full pastel wigs before – it changes every time!

What are some ways that you feel Frooti Toot-E is paving the way for other youth to take up space in music and arts communities? Do you have any advice for creative youth?

Tomato: I think because we’re so different from i guess “normal” or your typical form of music, it might encourage people and show them that they can make whatever they want. Although not everyone will like it (you can’t please everyone), there’s always going to be people who enjoy it .

This sound cheesy, but as long as you’re creating and having fun, that’s all that matters.

Banana: Yeah I agree. For advice, I’d say just be brave and try your hardest to create for yourself and not to please other people – it’s YOUR art, not theirs. Being creative is fun!

See Frooti Toot-E live on April 25th at FLOURISH Festival!


Contribution by Nikki A Basset

FLOURISH FEST: INTERVIEW #4 – THANYA IYER

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 fourth interview in the series, I spoke with Thanya Iyer (she/her), “an enigmatic songwriter who crafts sparkling experimental pop music” (2018) who is one-third of her self-titled band, Thanya Iyer (Montreal). Currently working on a visual album called “Kind”, their music “empowers listeners to embrace mindfulness, aesthetic beauty, and the interconnectedness of all things” (2018).

Thanya 2 by Sophie Grouev .jpgPhoto by Sophie Grouev

In your music there are themes of change, healing, growth, and dreaming – all tools for resistance. Are there overarching forces that drive and motivate these themes in your songwriting?

Definitely! Songwriting and music in general for me has this amazing ability to engage people, create community and provide healing in a deeply therapeutic way. My songs are about my journey and the journey of life, the things we face throughout them, where we are going, where we come from, who we are. A lot of my songs tell stories that travels through questions around racism, healing, chronic pain and disability, aging, depression, and acceptance.

I’ve noticed that while you are resistant to define your own music, you have been explicit that you do not use guitar. Your soundscape, and the intentional absence of guitar, draws many parallels for me to Lido Pimienta! During a live performance, I recall her stating that she’s not interested in collaborating and creating sound with guitar – drawing it back to being a woman of colour in an industry that is dominated by white men with guitars. Would you be willing to share reasons and feelings behind your intentional absence of guitar?

Its true! We don’t have a guitar. While I have many beautiful friends who play the guitar and know some wonderful people who have guitars in their music, it’s just not really something that has ever appealed to me! A lot of the musical frequencies that the range of the guitar has is quite similar to violins and synths that I already cover and of course there is just also a high frequency of white men with guitars in the universe already. (I love Lido Pimienta by the way and all her work and am so inspired by her music and motherhood and vibe).

It is definitely difficult to be in a world where there isn’t a lot of visibility for amazing women and folks of colour creating awesome music and doing wonderful things. Because insecurities do come up about your worth and your ability to keep going, and incidents where people treat you less then you are happen. A discussion with a good friend a couple years ago made me realize that maybe it’ll take just a little bit longer for my music to reach the surface because i’m not really “marketable” (in the sense that I’m not white and didnt have bangs (no offence to people with bangs)). But I feel like the best thing that we can do is just keep doing it! Never give up and live our truth. All of my role models and the musicians I love are just doing it! Making amazing music and just continuing! Living their truth and pushing forward in a world that’s not so easy to exist in.

I read in an interview (2018) that you were in the recording stages of an album that you will be calling Kind. Can we expect to hear this album in the near-future?

Yes, you can hear it eventually but I’m not exactly sure when! Definitely within the next year! We are in the process of finishing the album, and we recently had some sessions with some amazing collaborators who are all bandleaders of their own and a part of the montreal community (including a very rad group of female singer-songwriters who formed the MAWMZ PLUS choir, Tamara Sandor, Emilie Kahn on harp and voice, Corey Gulkin, Brigitte Naggar (Common Holly), Shelby Cohen and Sarah Rossy and Frédérique Roy on voice and accordian) – . We are just in the final stages making a mix and making some art and all of that stuff.

Another huge part of the project is that we would like to release the album as a 20 minute film. We have all the music ready and have the same team who created our DayDreaming music video on board to create some magic, Bucky Illingworth directing, Elysha Poirier and Sophia Grouev on animation!

For folks attending Flourish Festival, could you share what spaces you like to create and the impressions or messages you try to communicate during a live performance?

We love to create a space that is comfortable and safe and home! I love to connect with people and share and hear their stories and their journey. I love interacting with the audience and creating a warm atmospheric soundscape universe for people to submerge themselves in.

We recently added a new band member, Sophia Grouev who will be doing visual projections at the show. Sophia is such a lovely person and also helps create the dream world and vision we are going for, just to lift you out of reality for a moment and then bring you right back in.


See Thanya Iyer live:

April 11 – @ 12 CAT Arts Collective, Kingston, ON.

April 12 – Kazoo! Fest, Guelph, ON.

April 13th – w/ I am Robot & Proud, World News, and Precious Jewel @ Wavelength Music Series, Toronto, ON.

April 25th* – @ BAE, Bangor, ME.

April 26th – @ FLOURISH Festival, Fredericton, NB.

April 28th* – @ Casa Del Popolo, Montreal, QC.

April 29th* – @ Live! on Elgin, Ottawa, ON.

May 2nd* – @ This Ain’t Hollywood, Hamilton, ON.

May 3rd* – @ The Baby G, Toronto, ON.

May 4th* – @ Spark Art Space, Syracuse, NY.

May 5th* – @ BSP Kingston, Kingston, NY.

* – w/ And the Kids


Contribution by Nikki A Basset

FESTIVAL LINEUP: FLOURISH

Announced this morning, Flourish Fest released their full 2019 festival line-up happening the weekend of April 25th to 28th.

Held in Fredericton, NB, Flourish is a music & arts festival with inclusive programming that promotes and embraces community-building, the DIY and emerging, and works that challenge and engage. With intentionally diverse programming, there is something for everyone to appreciate and enjoy.

From the glittery indie-pop of And the Kids, Property, and Thanya Iyer, the punchy punk of Esme & the Dishrags, Coy, and Lemongrab, the vulnerable soft-rock of Weary, l i l a, and Mary-Kate Edwards, the electronic soundscapes of Terre Wa, VERSA, and Kee Avil, and everything else in between – there really isn’t any musical genre left ignored.

not your boys club is excited to be partnering with Flourish and providing pre-festival coverage and promotion by interviewing some of the organizers, artists, and musicians that will be contributing to the overall experience of the weekend.

Purchase a festival pass and apply to volunteer at http://www.flourish-fest.com.

Flourish_Festival_2019-Poster_Final-01


Contribution by: Nikki A Basset