Twice in the month of October I had the good fortune to chat with Lily Claire of the formerly Lily & The . . . now recently streamlined band name PARLOUR TRICKS . Initially the interaction was more of a casual post-show conversation following their October 8th CBGB Fest appearance at The Knitting Factory, (coverage of which I featured here )
Another opportunity came when Big Picture Media asked if I wanted to interview them during CMJ week. Having become an instant fan, I quickly agreed. What follows here are the results of that interview with not only the lovely Lily, but with bassist Brian too.
Q: The three women harmony vocal tandem fronting a band is a time honored tradition in music. In the historical sense of popular music citing early 1960’s Motown acts like The Supremes is always a safe bet when looking for comparisons. In more recent times UK act The Pipettes took a similar approach. Do you see either as launch points or inspiration?
Lily: Actually The Andrews Sisters pre-date both of those acts by decades for pop music. Before them there was The Boswell Sisters who predated the Andrews Sisters by a decade (1930’s). Then again in the 1920’s there was The Carter Family.
Those recordings were amazing. I listen to all that and really love it. I feel like a lot of it comes from that place where everyone is sitting around the house and someone would sit down at the piano and everyone would gather around and sing together. They would find their harmonies there. That’s real folk music in any tradition, true communal singing. So that’s what I really love to do. As I started writing for this band, that started seeping in. It’s very natural to me and to the other girls in the band as well.
Q: How is it that your song “Belle Gunness” (who was a notorious late 1800’s female serial killer) came to be placed in a BMW commercial?
Lily: We initially did that song just to have something to give to label we were working with. We hadn’t even gotten it fully mastered yet. There was no real forward thinking plan with this track. But the producer we were working with was also working with that client at the time.
Q: Who was the producer?
Lily: His name is Wilson Brown.
Brian: He runs Antfood Music Sound Design.
Lily: They do jingles and work with many clients and one of them is BMW. They had been looking for a song with a specific vibe, and we had just done this track with Wilson. So he asked if it was ok to pitch it to them (along with a bunch of other stuff) and they loved it.
Q: Was it a lucrative endeavor?
Brian and Lily: It was. Pretty decent. It was really nice.
Q: In the wake of that, have you tried to get songs on popular tv shows now?
Lily: We actually did this whole thing backwards. Usually you are first signed to a licensing company, a label working with you or a publishing company. We didn’t have any of that at the time of this first venture. But now we are going to sign with a great licensing company, so moving forward we’ll have better assistance in getting other placements.
Q: What do you find is more influential in your songwriting – current events or the historical past?
Lily: Definitely more from history than the present. I’m a bit of an avid book reader, so I draw a lot of inspiration from those sources.
Q: Is it difficult is it keeping a 6 member band together? Does having a group that size lead to more conflict?
Lily: It’s not very difficult at all. We are very supportive of each other and understand the common goal. So, that goes a long way in keeping harmony between us.
The band will be playing live at The Mercury Lounge for their early show on Saturday, December 13th with Rocket & The Ghost .
Show listing and how to get tickets can be found here .