Interviews, The Revue — June 3, 2015 at 8:00 am

Looking in the Mirror: an interview with Lilith Ai

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There are artists that you encounter and immediately know that they are on to something great. Maybe not immediately but eventually the world will discover the talents of these hidden gems. Lilith Ai is one of those artists.

Despite only releasing a couple of tracks, the London-based singer-songwriter has the unique ability to write lyrics that are real and honest, and music that immediately connects the listener with the stories she tells. This intimacy and immediacy are rarely found in even the most accomplished musicians. When listening to the gritty “Hang Tough” or the splendor of “Yeah Yeah”, comparisons to Tracy Chapman and Lauryn Hill will be inevitable.

Besides her music, very little is know about Lilith Ai, until now. Lilith is not only a talented songwriter, but a multi-talented artist. But for all her skills, she, admittedly, has some faults. Get to know this brilliant artist and wonderful individual.

Follow Lilith Ai on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Interview with Lilith Ai

Hi Lilith. Thanks so much for taking the time to chat.

That’s cool, anytime!

Before we delve into your music, what were doing before you got into music? I understand you were a painter.

I use to paint yeah but it’s messy and I spent a long while sofa surfing. You can’t rock up to other peoples yard and get your paint out. Ha ha! There have always been songs in my head to comfort me. Music keeps me company when I am lonely, which has always been often, unfortunately. Some days when I feel low, I wonder if I sing the blues because of all the shitty shit that goes down or if it’s because I’m just singing the blues. Music makes me more happy than painting, though.

You also told me that you were an avid comic book collector. What kind of comics and what is your most valuable in your collection?

I really don’t know what’s worth what. I got a first addition X-Men that my brother Hadrian gave me for my 16th. That’s probably worth a pretty penny. I would never sell it, though, because it has way too much sentimental value now. I also have all of Black Hole by Charles Burns in the first print monthly’s. When I moved from Queens to London, I packed my suitcase full of comics, but only brought the clothes on my back and some Nikes.

In addition to collecting comics, you also drew them. What was the name of the comic and its theme?

The things I draw are “slice-of-life” stuff. I do it for kicks mostly, but my pal Georgia-may and I have been making a book. We are going to print it up ourselves and slip and Cd in it nineties style. We will sell it this September. I have been putting all my love in that gem, so I hope people feel it. It is called Riot.

Lilith Ai

I love old blues players the best. This morning, I was chilling to Howlin’ Wolf. Blind Lemon Jefferson is mad heavy also, but the best for me is Sister Rosetta Tharpe. There are so many great guitarist to bless my ears, Chuck Berry, Brian Jones, Jimmy Nolen, B.B. King.

 

How has, if at all, your work in art and comics helped you in terms of music, whether as a songwriter or musician?

I don’t know. I never thought about it. I don’t know if it does help actually. I guess it is good in the way that when you are frustrated on a song or a riff you can do something else for a bit.

Your first two singles really spoke to family and community, in particular the working-class neighbourhood. How much were “Hang Tough” and “Yeah Yeah” reflective of your own experiences?

Like a mirror!

That sounds like a name for your debut album. Anyway, how did these songs come together? Was it instantaneous or something that you have thought long and hard about?

“Hang Tough” was so quick to write. I had this crazy experience with a girlfriend, Alex. One day, we bumped into her dad, whom she had not seen since she was two. Men can be rogues. They don’t understand how tender a woman’s heart is. Maybe they don’t realize, maybe they don’t care. Fuck, who knows? Anyway, I wrote the lyrics on the way home that day. By the morning, the track was finished.

“Yeah Yeah” was different. It that took awhile to write. I kept changing my mind, as I had a lot of ideas and in the end I realized it may be too much for one song. I love how it came out in the end still. Sometimes I still think about changing it, but… no, no, it is done.

When preparing for this interview, you wrote the following to me, “My head is too full of guitar chords.” So a two-part question – who taught you how to play the guitar and who are some of the guitarists you admire?

So many different people have taught me. You see, I am a really slow learner. I am still learning! My mate Johnny Keating is teaching me right now, and a next pal of mine, Luis Felber, is often about to show me new tricks.

I love old blues players the best. This morning, I was chilling to Howlin’ Wolf. Blind Lemon Jefferson is mad heavy also, but the best for me is Sister Rosetta Tharpe. There are so many great guitarist to bless my ears, Chuck Berry, Brian Jones, Jimmy Nolen, B.B. King.

Those are great names and musicians to admire.  If you’re a “slow learner”, when do you think you’ll master the guitar like these greats?

I hope so. I have always taken a little longer than other folks to get my shit together. I am severely dyslexic, so I am pretty used to keeping at it and being persistent. The trick is to love the journey, just taking it day to day, with the mind set I will get there someday.

That’s great advice. Besides perfecting the guitar and finishing Riot, what else do you have planned? Maybe an album?

Yeah, I’m on that. I got so much I wanna say and like 10,000 tunes in my head!

 

 

Let’s move on to some lighter stuff and do “Pick-3”. Are you cool with this?

Yeah yeah yeah, that’s cool!

Awesome! First, if someone was in your situation and moving to another country, what three pieces of advice would you give them?

  1. Never be afraid to go home.
  2. Making friends takes so long, so be your own best mate
  3. Travel light. You don’t need half the shit you own.

What are your three favourite comic books of all-time?

  1. Summer Blond by  Adrian Tomine
  2. Ghost World by Daniel Clowes
  3. Marvel by NYX

Who are your three favourite painters?

  1. Lucian Freud
  2. Becky Cloonan
  3. Takeshi Obata

In what three venues would you like to play in front of a sellout crowd?

  1. Hammersmith Apollo
  2. Madison Square Garden
  3. Shibuya O-Nest

Which three artists would you like to share the stage with one day?

  1. Björk
  2. Jay-Z
  3. Bruce Springsteen

Great list. And finally, if you were to move again, what three things would pack in your suitcase?

  1. My new Moog delay minifooger
  2. My Vox guitar
  3. Zoe Karssen tracksuit bottoms

Pretty great list.

Thank you so much Lilith for taking the time to do this interview. I can’t wait to one day see your artwork in a gallery and your book on the “Best Sellers” list. Good luck!

Thanks dude!

 

Lilith Ai

 The trick is to love the journey, just taking it day to day, with the mind set I will get there someday.

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