On the dimly-lit floor at (le) Poisson Rouge in New York City’s Greenwich Village, show goers eagerly await the onstage presence of Manhattan-based band, Lily & The Parlour Tricks. Although the band is constantly playing in the city, they approach the stage with a new, infectious energy. They are primarily considered an Americana band, but have clear jazz and rock undertones. They have mastered their 3-part harmonies and effortless dance moves, which are a blend of both classic and provocative.
Underneath their upbeat sound and swinging dance steps brims something slightly darker, a slightly sinister influence. After all, the band began in a cemetery. Well, sort of.
Frontwoman Lily and bassist Brian first connected after they attended a Moby Dick reading at a chapel in Brooklyn’s famed Greenwood Park Cemetery. The two bandmates, along with a couple other friends, ended up wandering the cemetery after the reading, and got locked inside (in the snow) for hours. They were eventually let out by the police in the early hours of the morning. It was after that night that Lily says she and Brian really hit it off, and shortly after, decided to form the band. Gradually, they added on their New School classmates Angelo (guitar), Terry (drums), Darah (vocals), and Morgane (vocals) to the group.
“Our sound evolved in a really awesome, natural way,” says bassist Brian.
“Things evolved, they changed, but nothing was forced. We used to be a little more restrained, a little bit cleaner,” adds Terry.
But things took off in a new direction after Angelo showed up to a gig with various odd objects to play with his guitar.
“Angelo showed up to a gig with a cake tester, a quarter for his guitar pick, a right angle protractor, a paint brush. No one asked him, no one told him to do it,” says Brian.
“But it was a very specific turning point,” Lily says. “And we’ve kind of gone in that direction.”
Collectively, their music is inspired by a lot of literature, and Lily describes them all as “big readers.” As the primary songstress, Lily says she is hugely inspired by Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood”, and loves American True Crime novels, and case studies, which helps to explain the band’s subtle darkness.
Outside of their music, the band is a sunny, very tight-knit group of musical friends, who all began playing instruments as children. They gush over newer-aged indie bands like Everything Everything, Paper Bird, and Boy, and joke about future plans of becoming a team of “amateur” archeologists when their music careers end. They even happily embrace what many musicians would view as an incredibly frustrating music industry.
“I’m pretty happy with the music industry,” says Brian, and the rest of the band agrees. “You kind of make your own story; you can do whatever you want. There are more opportunities, there’s less money than there was in a traditional sense, but the money is just in other places now. We have a burgeoning middle-class!”
And when asked what they would be doing if they couldn’t be doing this? Brian says they’d still be doing this, just somewhere else. If not for the love of the music, then certainly for each other. As Lily put it best: “We really just like hanging out with each other.”
- Emma Gaedeke