Alex Lilly serves a glass of ‘2% Milk’
When: 4:05 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 28
Where: ASCAP Music Cafe, 751 Main St.
Cost: Free for Sundance Film Festival credential holders
Indie pop singer-songwriter Alex Lilly points to karaoke as her inspiration to perform her music.
“I was always more into figuring songs out and writing, and it wasn’t later until I got excited about the idea of performing,” said Lilly, who will perform at the ASCAP Music Cafe on Jan. 28. “Going out to sing karaoke in my early 20s was so much fun, and I thought why couldn’t I bring that spirit to my music? It was then that I realized I could have fun with the songs I had written.”
Letting herself go was Lilly’s secret to making her album “2% Milk.”
“In the past I would edit myself, which is a good idea for me,” she said, laughing. “This time I didn’t do that. If there was something messy and geeky I wanted to push that. If there was something mellow and fragile, I wanted to push that. I really thought no one was going to listen to the album, so I decided to go as ridiculous as possible.”
But people listened, and Popmatters wrote that Lilly was “Madonna with a more poetic bent.”
“I just indulged my ego,” she said. “But it’s like an accordion. Since I was so spread out on this record, I’ll be so measured and play only one instrument on the next one.”
Lilly’s whimsical perception of music comes from her artistic background.
“Up to the age of 12, I was into visual art, and I thought I was going to be a visual artist,” she said. “But I was so affected by music that I hopped ship.”
Lilly wanted to know how music functioned.
“My dad played a song for me,” she said. “It might have been a Beatles song, or it might have been Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ but I remember my dad was looking at my face to see my reaction.”
Lilly’s reaction was almost obsessive.
“I wanted to make records,” she said. “I signed up for a conservatory, even though I didn’t know how to play classical music, and I made a fool of myself for the first little bit.”
When she was 16, she joined a band.
“My mom’s boyfriend asked me to fill in on vocals and guitar, but after hearing some of my stuff, he would give his band to me as a platform for me to play my originals,” she said. “That’s when the music went from being a conceptual thing to a performative thing.”
Lilly’s passion for music continued when she started touring with other artists such as the bird and the bee, Back, Lorde and Ry Cooder and Nick Lowe.
“Watching and hearing other people in a live performance from the background, I was able to see a different side of music,” she said.
Even working on “2% Milk” was a learning experience.
The album was produced by Lilly and Jake Bercovici of The Voidz, and it was released on Release Me Records, a label owned by the bird and the bee’s Inara George.
Lilly has known George for years, and the two are bandmates with Becky Stark and Eleni Mandell in the group The Living Sisters.
“I have admired Inara as a great singer, musician and friend, and we have so much fun with whatever we do,” Lilly said. “In the case of my album, she worked more on the business side of things, and bossed me around a bit, which I liked.”
Lilly is looking forward to performing at the ASCAP Music Cafe.
“I’m very excited to go to Park City, because I’ve never been there before,” she said. “I imagine it will be a lovely experience, and everyone will be bundled up in whatever they wear up there.”
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