Throughout my ventures of music writing, I had begun a collection of interviews/editorials on phenomenal female underground electronic/alternative musicians. This process has proven to be one of the most inspiring projects I have taken on, with the hopes of sharing such inspiration with women throughout the music world, regardless of genre preference. To continue the momentum with this project, I present to you one of my most favorite musicians to date, the incomparable Lila Rose. I had the honor of an interview – stepping into her powerful yet delicate realm of music, learning about the fierce magic conjured for her newest album, WE.ANIMALS., and her thoughts on women in the industry. The album is simply brilliant. Gorgeous compositions, raw yet ethereal vocals, and stripped down moments of passion – all interwoven with philosophies and spiritual attributes. WE.ANIMALS. is personal, intimate, and strong. Technically, her musicianship shines magnificently – as layers of live instrumentation wash upon the album like wild tides, slipping under toes of impeccable electronic production to complement her ever so lovely and seductive vocals. Please enjoy the interview below, pick up a copy of WE.ANIMALS., and should you find yourself with the chance to see Lila Rose live, I highly suggest you do and treat your soul to the magic it craves.
Jexime: What was the impetus behind WE.ANIMALS.?
Lila Rose: WE.ANIMALS. was a long time coming. I was an animal and environmental rights activist long before I knew I was a musician. I knew once I began making music that I wanted to make a song about my love and care of the earth and its creatures. I had no idea I had a full album in me! I tried for years to write just a simple song about it… but somehow it always came out corny or preachy (animal rights is a touchy subject which I wanted to be cautious about). I wanted to invite people in, and not turn them off of the subject matter. Finally in the summer of 2013 I wrote the song We Animals while I was house sitting my friends cottage in the woods of Santa Cruz, California. I was tucked away all on my own for a few days to make music and cat sit. Three of the songs off the album came out on that retreat, one of which became the title track.
I wanted to create a bridge between those worlds I care the most about- music and animals and the earth… in a way that would draw people towards the message, and not away in repulsion. I hope that’s what I did?!
J: What inspired you to step away from the electronic sound that was Heart Machine and step into the organic textures of WE.ANIMALS.?
LR: Well actually WE.ANIMALS. does have some pretty heavy electronic elements, they are just a bit more disguised than in Heart Machine due to the layering of live drums, guitars, and other live instruments. I think also the fact that we used analogue electronics makes a big difference when listening to the difference between the two albums because it gives more of an organic flavor making it feel a bit less electronic. The choice was a natural one, it just kind of unfurled naturally. We were simply drawn to the sounds which happened to be more raw in texture. Once we were already a few songs into the album it became more of a conscious choice as it seemed to line up with the concept of the album in regards to being closer to the earthy elements and sounds.
J: Which instruments were recorded live for this record and which did you feel the most connected to and why?
LR: Any instruments used on the record werre recorded live. We had a West African drum, a kalimba, drum kit, acoustic guitar, bass, electronic guitar, bells, chimes, sticks (literally from outside), shoes on the ground, etc. We tried to use as many live elements as possible. It would be impossible for me to chose a sound which I am most connected to- I love them all!!! I guess if I had to chose i would say I am most connected to my voice- being the main instrument I use and play.
J: As I listened to WE.ANIMALS. straight through, I was enveloped in its eerily beautiful compositions as well as its rich layers of earthly spiritual messages and philosophies. Complete with your poetic vocals, these notions emulate in hauntingly gorgeous ways – giving a perfect balance to eclectic musicianship and a profound message of environmental awareness. With this powerful combination of art meets ethics, what did you hope audiences would take away from your current tour?
LR: Well thank you so much for the compliments and for feeling it!!! My hope that as we play shows on this tour, that people first and foremost have a powerful creatively inspiring experience. I want people to be drawn in towards the music. Secondly, I want people to be pulled in so that the message itself seeps into their pores. I want people to be so inspired that they listen carefully to every word, and every sentiment behind each song. To walk away feeling changed, educated, inspired to make a difference in the world. I know that’s asking a lot, but that’s my goal!
J: As you journey through the WE.ANIMALS. tour, what were some of your most powerful and weakest moments?
LR: Touring is an amazing thing. The most powerful experience on this tour was having numerous people after shows come up to me in tears needing a hug. What I started to notice was that what was happening was that people were having deep healing experiences. They are feeling moved by the intensity around the state of our Earth, and the energy I am channeling around that. We all FEEL what’s happening on a daily basis, but we rarely give ourselves to opportunity to drop into it, and bring awareness to it. That’s what I’m doing, and it’s very powerful to see people experience it with me. The weakest moments I would say would be the dynamics with the band. Being on the road locked up in a vehicle sometimes 10 hours a day every day of the week can be very intense! We all love each other sooo much but gosh- after 3 weeks of 24 hours a day, it becomes alot of energy to be around the same people!
J: What does the future look like for Lila Rose in terms of new works, collaborations, and future touring?
LR: Well so far, my future looks like some new singles coming out with producer Jeff Saltzman (he produced The Killers, Blondie, Greenday, etc). It also looks like we will finally be touring the East Coast for the first time in March/April 2016!!! I can’t wait! Besides that it will be more and more touring, hopefully Europe after that, and more singles!!! The next album is slowly percolating but my focus is now on shows and getting out to meet all the fans out there!
J: And alas – my ever so necessary woman centered question: As a lady in the music industry, what are some of the most important lessons you have learned and what advice would you give to women artists, whether starting out or feeling intimidated on their path?
LR: Thank you so much for asking this last question. It’s an important one! A lot of people don’t realize that women still struggle a ton in this industry. It is NOT by any means fair, or equal, and it is vital for us all to recognize that, so we can all do our part to bring that equilibrium between the genders in this field of work. I would say the most important lesson I have learned is to know my shit. There’s no way I can know it ALL, but the more I know, the stronger I can stand in independence, and in showing the true necessity of supporting females in the bizz.
My advice is this: know your shit. Know the business, know the art, know as much as possible so you can hang with anyone and make it clear you know exactly what is going on so you cannot be trampled on, or taken advantage of. This happens far too often and it’s up to us, at this point, to prove we are on top of our stuff. Be fierce, be strong, and be 100% true to your art. That’s not advice- in my books, that’s a rule!!!
Purchase WE.ANIMALS. on Lila Rose’s Bandcamp.