Artist of The Week: Lila Gold Is Wrapping Your Anxiety In a Bow
Lily Lizotte was born to make music. Originally hailing from Sydney, Lizotte, who goes by stage name Lila Gold, spent her formative years growing up in New York City surrounded by a family of musicians and, in her words, has “never known anything else.” Following this passion (and exhibiting an independent streak that would come to define her musical style), Lizotte dropped out of school years ago to immerse herself more deeply in music, teaching herself the ropes of writing, production, and technique ever since. Now, after years of tunnel-visioned work, she’s unearthed a style all her own—one filled with colors, pulsating rhythms, laughter, playful lyrical compositions, and, conversely, a matter-of-fact disposition.
Lizotte is acutely aware of her own demons, and her power as a musician in many ways comes from her ability to not just be open about them, but to put them on full display; dressing them up for the world to admire, then backing them up with beats usually reserved for a dancehall. She’s able to talk about everything from pain to boredom to texting gone awry because those aren’t just her insecurities—they’re our insecurities—and listening to a Lila Gold track is ultimately a reminder for listeners that pain and fun are not on opposite ends of the spectrum. As it turns out, listening to infectiously pop-y musings on modern isolation are a great way to trick yourself into dancing about your own loneliness, and Lizotte, who amplifies it all with a look that is equal parts coquette and streetwear, is just playing along.
We caught up with the Brooklyn-based musician in the wake of her latest single, “Happy Idiot“, to talk about what drives her sound, her hopes for her career, and what we can expect next.
So, you’ve had a pretty busy past few weeks. What’s been up?
Well, I just released my newest single, “Happy Idiot”, and last week I had a show at PUBLIC Arts supporting Wafia, who’s another Australian artist. That was really cool because it’s been a whole year since I’ve done a show, and it ended up being perfect timing. On the whole, for the last couple of months I’ve been writing and recording non-stop and essentially picking out which singles to use for my EP. Especially since it’s been winter in New York, I’ve been in a really isolated creative space just sinking my teeth into my sound and my direction, developing my live show, and pulling everything together. Right now is honestly a funny period in my career because I’ve just launched—which is really exciting—but after all that it also feels almost… anticlimactic [Laughs].
I can imagine. And “Happy Idiot” is part of your first EP, correct?
Yeah, this is my first EP.
When do we get to hear the whole thing?
I’m not sure. I don’t have a date, but it’s definitely going to be some time this year. Truthfully, I’m not really hung up on the fact that it’s a full body of work. For me, what’s really important is just putting out singles. The whole nature of an album feels a little bit dated to me. It feels restricted. I’m still going to put out something as a whole, as a project, but what really excites me is collaborating with more people and putting songs out track by track. I like the fast-moving pace of that.
You mentioned you’ve dedicated a lot of time to carving out your own sound. What have you finally landed on that you’re ready to put out?
[My sound] is heavily influenced by Reggaeton and dancehall. Some people say it sounds like tropical pop, or “trop pop”, and I’m like, “No… cringe.” [Laughs]
Yep. A little bit cringy, but I get it. The sound pallet I use is very bubbly and ethereal but it’s definitely influenced by hip hop, Reggaeton, and dancehall as well. I love the sound pallets and the repetition those genres use because they really suit that kind of production I prefer, which is bubbly and ethereal and upbeat and rhythmic. It also juxtaposes the lyrics I write. Conceptually, I write a lot about depression, anxiety, insecurities, ways to navigate being a millennial, the Internet, and… feeling like shit, you know? [Laughs] I put those two elements together, and it just really works for me.
Are you trying to use an upbeat, pop-y sound to make depression easier to talk about?
Well, personally, I’m really open. I give everything. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I give everyone every little piece of me all the time. That definitely gets me into quite a bit of trouble, but it also allows me to get people to open up and connect with me. I think wrapping a mess up in a pretty bow really helps people to digest it and to express something similar. To me, sadness and pain is so vital—on the same level as joy and happiness and lust and love and pleasure. They’re so hand in hand. I can’t have just one without the other, and it doesn’t feel fulfilling to me to just write about pleasure and happiness. There’s gotta be something underneath it, you know?
So, I find myself revisiting those topics all the time. I’m really excited to put out my next single—the one following “Happy Idiot”—because I feel like the more that I put out, the more people will start to get the picture and digest what I write about conceptually. I’m interested in seeing people’s reactions. Some people might not want to listen to that kind of shit, but I do, and I feel like now more than ever people are starting to talk about anxiety and depression and their insecurities and “self-care”. I think that us, as millennials, we’re quite defined by mental health. We’re talking about it, and it’s more prevalent in a positive and a negative way.
I feel like your look also kind of emulates that, no? The juxtaposition of somewhat childlike pieces with darker elements—is that purposeful?
Totally. I like playfulness. I love fantasy and anything to do with escapism because… I want to create my own world. I’m not really happy with reality and I’ve always been really indifferent to people. I also had a really hard time in high school and I know it’s such a cliche, but I felt a really big disconnection with my age—I grew up so fast. That said, escapism and fantasy has always been something that I’ve been drawn to, and that has to do with how I dress. I guess it’s my way of hiding as well. Wearing clothing that feel kind of strange and a bit obscure and almost costume-y helps me to hide from people.
Did you find yourself expressing yourself more and more visually as you began expressing yourself musically?
Visually, I’ve always expressed myself. Those two elements—visuals and sound—are so important to me, and honestly hold the same weight in my mind. For example, the visuals for my single cover and the content that I released for “Happy Idiot”—and there’s more to come—that’s not an afterthought, you know? It all goes hand in hand. Sometimes I’ve developed visuals even before I write a song.
And how much do you work with other artists in creating your work?
I’ve worked with a lot of different producers and writers, but I’ve found that the spirit of what I’m putting out now is very independent and very driven and focused by what I want it to be. I’ve always been really hands-on. I guess that’s why this period feels exciting but also kind of weird for me, because I feel like I’m holding the responsibility for a lot of my work. It’s cool, though—I like having the pressure and I like having the weight of being an independent artist.
Do you have a goal in mind for your career as an artist? Or any milestone that would be like, “Oh my god, I made it”?
I don’t actually, because I think everything is a milestone [Laughs]. I just… I want it all, and I just want people to feel something and to receive what I put out. That’s it, you know? Ultimately I want to just keep on challenging myself, conceptually as much as sonically and visually. That’s really important to me.
Makes sense. And when people listen to a Lila Gold song, what do you hope they get out of it?
I just hope they feel something? Like, even if they don’t like it. I know it’s not everyone’s palette and it’s not everyone’s colors. Even if they don’t fuck with it, that’s cool, ‘cause then… you just don’t fuck with it [Laughs]. But, truthfully, with so much shit that we have on the Internet, the value of making somebody feel something is all I could ask for in 2019.
You can listen to ‘Happy Idiot’ and Lila Gold’s other singles on Spotify.
Stay tuned to Milk for more rising artists.