Photo by Zachary Bako

Mean Lily Jean is Going Places


Lily Jeanette is an emerging singer-songwriter from New York City and we’re getting the scoop on her.

Next month, Vice or someone will do a story on emerging musicians and Lily will be in it, and we’ll be like, ‘Oi, you twats, we already did that,’ because we turn into proper geezers when we talk to other magazines, innit. Anyhooooo, Lily is destined for greatness and we got here first. Meet Lily.

Who are you?

My name is Lily. Some people call me Lily-Jean or Lily Jeanette. Or Mean Lily-Jean.

Where are you?

I’m sitting outside at my parents’ house in Palisades, New York. I live in Brooklyn but I try to come out here as much as I can during the summer to get out of the city.

How old are you?

Twenty-five.

What do you do to pay the rent?

I bartend at the best bar in NYC: Max Fish. As a result, my sleep schedule has deteriorated, but working nights allows me the maximum amount of time to work on music during the day, which is the most important thing to me right now.

How long have you been writing songs and playing guitar?

I learned a couple chords in high school, but I sucked. I didn’t really start until I was eighteen, when I broke up with my five-year high school boyfriend and I needed an outlet. I was feeling really alone and isolated, and my brother, who I’ve always looked up to, was always practicing in his room. So, guitar became the outlet. I started playing two chords, like A and E, and then I would sing anything I wanted over it. A lot of the time it was more speaking and awful singing. I remember when my brother asked me to play rhythm guitar in his band, he would call me ‘fearless’. But it wasn’t in the way you’d think—it was because I was so bad that I had to be fearless if I was going to play like that in front of people.

What’s your favourite self-penned song and what’s it about?

My favourite song is usually whatever song I’m working on at the time. I’ll get really excited about it and ride that excitement for as long as possible and hopefully finish the song before I get sick of it. I’d say one of the songs I’ve written that means the most to me is the very first one I recorded in my room; it’s called ‘Valley of the Strangers Below.’ I wrote it when I was twenty-one. My best friend, Brianna, and I were on a train travelling from Italy to France. I was listening to voice memos of songs I was working on before I left. While scanning a recording, a very bluesy riff caught my ear while I had apparently caught the eye of some really old dude a couple rows in front of me. He kept turning around in his seat and walking back and forth past mine. Frankly, I felt uncomfortable and just wanted him to fuck off. But I used that energy—and that of past experiences where I’d felt discomfort, fear, or being annoyed-as-fuck—to write lyrics to that bluesy riff. That’s what I do when I write songs, I tell people to fuck off. Just kidding! But it is an outlet for how I’m feeling and I’m very grateful I’ve found it.

What’s your favourite song of all time?

I don’t have a favourite song of all time, but if you looked at the recent music on my phone it’s mostly ‘Cruisin’’ by Smokey Robinson, ‘Girlblunt’ by Leikeli47, and ‘Sticky’ by Ravyn Lenae.

What are you doing after you finish this questionnaire?

Band practice! Me and my brother have a show at Mercury Lounge in a few weeks. Usually I play solo so I’m really excited to play with him. Our band is called Mean Lily Jean.

See more from Issue 64 of Monster Children by picking up a copy here.

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