Lilly Wolf : "Inspiration comes from making mistakes"

Published on February 28 2014

Lilly Wolf : "Inspiration comes from making mistakes"


1. Could you introduce yourself and tell us where your artist name comes from and a little bit more about your debut as an artist ?

I'm Lilly Wolf, which comes from my legal name, Lillian Wolfson. My producer, Alex Neuhausen, goes by Dr. Nu because he is an actual doctor (of electrical engineering). We met at Stanford through a Facebook group for musicians. Nu was working on his doctor-engineer thing and I was finishing my undergrad in music. I picked him up in my Volvo and we jammed in my dorm room. At the time we didn’t like each other too much but now we're best friends. I was kind of fighting my ambition when we met, pretending I was gonna pull off this straight edge deal, have a stable career trajectory, learn to cook, maybe grow some plants in the living room. I had people telling me that I couldn’t be a musician, that it was ridiculous. Eventually I stopped listening to them because those people are jerks. And now I still can’t cook.

2. What's the story behind your new albums? What messages are you trying to convey through them?

We have two albums up on Jamendo, "Play Loud" from a year ago, and "This Painted Life," which we released last month.
The title for "This Painted Life" comes from a quote in Nabokov's Invitation to a Beheading: " my dreams the world would come alive, becoming so captivatingly majestic, free and ethereal, that afterwards it would be oppressive to breathe the dust of this painted life.”


Lilly Wolf : "Inspiration comes from making mistakes"Lilly Wolf : "Inspiration comes from making mistakes"


3. What kind of artists do you usually listen to? Are they a source of inspiration for you?

I'm a classically trained on piano and I love dance music, so I listen to a mix of classical music, hip-hop, and dance-pop. I like Chopin, Mozart, Liszt, Tchaikovsky, Mendelssohn, Kendrick Lamar, Dre, Kanye, Jedi Mind Tricks, Stromae, Kings Dead, Gaga, Rihanna,  Britney, T Swift. The stuff Max Martin writes. Or A.R. Rahman, or Thomas Newman, for movie soundtracks. I learned to arrange for orchestra, and I think those conventions show up in my bass and piano and synth parts now. With vocal production, we borrow the technique Max Martin uses on Britney's vocals and double or triple up the lead vox parts because, like her, I'm a breathy singer.

4. Where does your inspiration come from?

Making mistakes. Reckless stuff that’ll probably get me in trouble later but also give me a window, a narrow one, to something rare and brief and probably sad. A lot of late-night hanging out in diners. Or in donut shops. I don’t sleep well. I try to read. I try to pay attention. I like thinking about how people manage the distance between themselves and others so I try to capture that if it’s unusual, like if it’s some really insidious manipulation or a really spectacular flameout. It feels voyeuristic sometimes.


Lilly Wolf : "Inspiration comes from making mistakes"Lilly Wolf : "Inspiration comes from making mistakes"Lilly Wolf : "Inspiration comes from making mistakes"
Lilly Wolf : "Inspiration comes from making mistakes"Lilly Wolf : "Inspiration comes from making mistakes"Lilly Wolf : "Inspiration comes from making mistakes"


5. Have you ever performed in public? If yes, what are the best memories you keep from these performances and your fans ?

We play live all the time, mostly in clubs and bars around NYC. I think the best thing, or at least the one that’s sticking out to me right now, is from this party we played in Bushwick, in Brooklyn. Not crazy, but there was this girl who came up to me after my set and said, YOU HAVE TO KEEP DOING THIS. YOU CAN’T EVER STOP DOING THIS. So now when I can’t write for shit and I’ve been living under a rock for days I’ll think about that and try not to be so pessimistic about my stuff.

6. What was the craziest experience you lived as an artist?

Honestly? It’s playing for people I know. It’s one thing to perform in front of strangers, I don’t have any history with them and it’s easy to abstract them into a blob. It’s different singing in front of my brother or my friend from high school or my meth dealer (just kidding, he never makes it out to the events). These people are in the music! I’m still not over how strange that is.

7.  What’s your favorite song to belt out  in your car/shower/bedroom, at the bar or for karaoke?

"Crazy" by Britney Spears. Also, Miley’s “We Can’t Stop”, because everyone in line for the bathroom, tryna get a line in the bathroom.


Lilly Wolf : "Inspiration comes from making mistakes"Lilly Wolf : "Inspiration comes from making mistakes"Lilly Wolf : "Inspiration comes from making mistakes"


8.  You chose to share your music for free under Creative Commons licenses on Jamendo. Why did you make this decision?

Dr. Nu and I both like the idea of people downloading, sampling, and remixing our music. It’s cool to hear someone else's take on what we do. Plus, if anything we feel it's going to increase our exposure instead of detracting from our work.

9. Do you have a fun anecdote that your fans don’t know about and would be surprised to hear? Dr. Nu does all of our production in his home studio, but he’s constantly needing to find homes where he can be loud. Which has led to a lot of strange living situations. Like, a shed in the backyard of what was technically a single-family home but which actually housed one compulsive buyer of household cleaning products and industrial-grade cookware, two criminally (literally) incompetent meth addicts and their mean blind dog, one jaded scientist, and a line cook with a penchant for stealing Nu’s cheese. Nobody was normal. They had two (two!) mop and buckets, the kind janitors use on the floors. I have no idea why.


Lilly Wolf : "Inspiration comes from making mistakes"Lilly Wolf : "Inspiration comes from making mistakes"Lilly Wolf : "Inspiration comes from making mistakes"

10. Anything to add?

Interviewers often ask about our goals. Short term, we want to write and perform music for a living and tour internationally. Long term, we want to write classic dance songs. In 50 years people will still be listening to Madonna and Michael Jackson. We want them to still be listening to us too. There's this Banksy quote, "They say you die twice. One time when you stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time.” We're terrified of dying.



Written by The Jamendo Team

Published on #Interviews