Lila Tristram is a musician, writer, artist and teacher based in East London. Her debut double EP Our Friends (2020), released by labels in the UK and Japan, received acclaim from some of Britain’s top industry professionals, including Stephen Street, Pete Paphides and several members of the BBC community. Characterised by melancholic fingerpicking, intimate vocal harmonies, and a weaving of bucolic British landscapes, the songs which define Lila Tristram's emergence are a journey to the depths of human longing and belonging.
She is currently working on multiple projects, including a follow-up solo album, and a collaboration with The Last Dinosaur, both of which are taking her music in new directions.
Thank you for taking this interview! How has the New Year been for you so far as an artist?
Thank you for having me! 2022 has been an exciting time to be an artist; performers across the globe took such a hit during the pandemic, and it just feels so good to be able to gig again. Both as a performer and an audience member, I’ve noticed crowds returning to live music with so much enthusiasm. The appreciation is amazing.
Can you tell us how you've transformed from the beginning to now as an artist?
Gosh. Well, I knew that I wanted to be a musician long before I started making music. When I finally did start writing my own music, I was interested in jazz and folk, and my early songs, including those on Our Friends, were very influenced by ancient folk songs and the folk revival movement.
I’m now trying to expand on that style, introducing more instruments and trying to challenge myself to produce music which incorporates a wider range of my influences.
How did you come up with your latest project?
Songs come to me in a stream. I don’t really think too hard about a project before embarking on it. For me, writing music starts from a state of pure curiosity. I am experimenting and playing with an instrument with no real idea of what might come out. I suppose the latest project is a culmination of an era of my life which has been documented in the songs I’ve written. There are musical themes and motifs which I find keep recurring, ideas which I haven’t quite exhausted yet. To my mind, this gives structure to the body of work, helping the songs to sit together as a whole.
Where are you from originally?
I was born in London, and lived in Clapton in the late 90s before moving to Devon with my mother when I was a child. I have a really deep relationship with the natural world and especially the landscape of Devon, but in the years I spent living there I always considered myself a displaced Londoner.
Where do you live now? When I was 18 I moved back to London. I now live in East London, about 10 minutes away from where I spent the early part of my life.
Do you think where you live impacts how your music is made?
Certainly. I believe that art is a result/reflection of the artist’s experiences. And where a person lives impacts their experience of life hugely. London is a rich tapestry of humanity. Every day, I go about my life and I encounter such a diverse cross section of human life, which contributes enormously to my world view and the ideas and dreams I express in my songs.
What was the inspiration to make music your career?
Good question. I guess it wasn’t really an ‘a-ha!’ moment, as is the case when inspiration strikes. It was an overwhelming desire to immerse myself in music - despite it not seeming to be the most sensible route at the time. I was a straight A student at school and many of my Science, Humanities and English teachers seemed quite upset to learn of my plans to pursue the Arts. But to me it felt like less of a conscious decision and more a giving in to a kind of gravity.
How do you want to shape your career?
I try to think in terms of small steps, and not to get caught up with any kind of big ambitious vision for my future. Of course, we all want success in terms of following, industry support, respect from fellow creatives (and perhaps if we’re really lucky, financially as well!). But for now I am happy just tying up the next album and taking it from there.
Do you work on a tight timeline always or do you go with the flow when it comes to your music?
I certainly try to go with the flow. In my experience, music can’t be forced. I never trust musicians who say “I forced myself to complete one song per day” - or something to that effect. To me, that goes against the grain of creativity, and giving the psyche time and space to process and reach inspiration naturally almost always comes out with more fruitful ideas.
How did your latest title of your music come to be?
The latest song that I have released, in collaboration with Jamie Cameron/The Last Dinosaur, is called Untitled (Recollections on the Day We First Met, 25th of May 2019). On that day in May 2019, Jamie was an audience member at one of my gigs. I played a song which was at the time brand new and still Untitled. The 8 minute piece of music that we built together incorporates that song as part of an extended soundscape. The song never acquired a title, so we let it remain as a memory of our burgeoning friendship.
Is it hard to let go of the music when it is done?
I don’t think it’s hard. If anything, the timeframe it takes to write, record, produce, plan, market and eventually release music is so long that by the time it reaches the ears of the audience it often feels long overdue. There is of course always anxiety with a release, but in a healthy, excitable way.
Do you feel an emotional attachment to your music?
I experience the music I create to be an extension of me. It is a documentation, a series of diary entries, letters from my unconscious to my consciousness. The emotional attachment I have to my music runs very deep.
How would you describe your music in one word to someone who hasn't listened to it yet?
Where do they go to listen NOW?
Anywhere! It’s out on all major streaming platforms.
What has been the best fan reaction to your music?
I'm from Chile. just want to tell since i listened your music. i fall in a deep broken dream awake.. since 2011 maybe, that i have no suprime about bands and new music, since life on earth of tiny vipers.. your music is a new rescue for go to universal ocean ... im in a rare state.. hard to explain.. in english more .. jeje greetings from Chile
Is there anything exciting coming up for you?
I hope that 2022 will be a big year for me in terms of recording and releasing a lot of music that I’ve been storing up over lockdown.
Are you performing the song anywhere LIVE?
I am performing at the Green Note in London on the 25th of this month, alongside Katie Spencer who is an amazing songwriter and performer.
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