Lily Oakes

A combination of husky poetic vocals, guitars, and orchestral influences bring the beauty of Lily Oakes’s music to life. Passion flirts with reality; catchy hooks and rhythmic grooves create music that’s ahead of its time through combining and splicing together a variety of genres and being sung so passionately from the heart. Her lyrics are carolled with a heart wrenching honesty, a voice that slips between the watery depths of a collective psyche and the emotional breadth and wonderment of what it is to be human.

Lily recently wrote a contemporary jazz and blues album with producer Glen Ballard (previously having worked with Alanis Morissette, Alan Silvestri, Michael Jackson and others). She is an artist of the finest calibre, reinstating the importance of music as an art medium, experimenting with it in different forms through visuals, and scoring a variety of films and fashion shows, such as the recent Joshua Kane ‘Fantasy’ fashion show at the London Palladium and the Dolce and Gabbana runway at Harrods. Lily Oakes is certainly one to watch – a spirit of great beauty and wisdom, reminding and inspiring those who are lucky enough to stumble across her talent of the special, beautiful things in life. Make sure to catch her live.

What are your influences?

I have literal classical influences and conceptual ones. Musically could range from Scott Bradley (Tom and Jerry) to the harmonics of The St. Katherine’s choir in Sister Act 1. Conceptually it’s timelessness and purity. The je ne sais quoi of a smile, the tap of a foot, the beauty of a child, Frank Sinatra’s suit. In my music, that translates as minimalism and pure intent. Every instrument is there for a reason, all to create the feeling that made me write the song initially.

What key events in your life inspired your music?
No specific events, more so the feeling of music at various times.

At what point in your life did you realize you had a talent?

It’s been an urgency for as long as I can remember. It began with drawing – illustrating and portraits, then poetry, then mixing 12″ vinyl, then production, then recording. Does any artist realise they are talented?

What things outside of music inspire you most?

The things that inspire me the most are all the things that one cannot buy; time, love, nature, many things.

How do you integrate both art and music?

Music is art. Art is music.

How do you choose who you collaborate with in the fashion and art worlds?

Collaboratively, I am very selective where ego is present. In the absence of, I am fluid and versatile. I think it’s a sense or sensitivity. Not sure.

Where do your lyrics come from?

Most, if not all my lyrics are direct responses to personal feelings/happenings.

What is your creative process?

Creative process varies on many things. Mood, time of day; one day I may want a dirtier baseline or top end strings. Or silence.

What is your favourite instrument and why?

My favourite instrument is the cello, I think. That’s the hardest question so far.

Favourite musician ever and current one?

I definitely don’t have a favourite musician, then and now. This is the hardest question also.

What do you hope people feel and learn from listening to your music?
That freedom comes from learning/ going to the place of discomfort to uncover truth. Being true to yourself is noble.

Why do you love music?

I’m not sure why I love music but I don’t ever want to find a reason.

If you could rule the world, what would you do to make it better?
If I ruled the world, “I’d free all my sons.” Just kidding, Lauryn. In any world, there would be bad and good, so my fantasy world would look a bit like Alien, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (everything is alive), and Dextor’s Laboratory. I could find myself there.

What role does music play in human existence, why is it important?
Music feeds the soul. It is ever-changing and can’t run out. “Music is probably the only real magic I have encountered in my life. There’s not some trick involved with it. It’s pure and it’s real. It moves, it heals, it communicates and does all these incredible things.” Tom Petty

What are your plans for the near future?
In the near future, I’m scoring a documentary called “Most Wanted” and releasing a contemporary jazz/blues album with Glen Ballard in LA. You asked me earlier what inspires me, he does.

Text Katia Ganfield
Images Courtesy of Lily Oakes