Songtrust Spotlight: Zoey Lily

ZOEY LILY writes, produces, and performs melodic alt-pop tunes. She combines her soft, soothing vocals with organic sounds, electronics, and influences of Hip-hop music. Young Zoey has always been drawn to art, be it painting, dancing, poetry, or classical music. Soon after, Zoey picked up her dad’s acoustic guitar and started writing songs at the age of 13.

Her first body of work was self-released as singles throughout 2018 and 2019 retrospectively titled Project Prologue in spring 2020. As of today, it has independently racked up over two million streams on Spotify alone and has excited support from key tastemakers across the media; The Line of Best Fit, tmrw Magazine and The 405, Buzzfeed, as well as being championed by BBC London and invited in as their "featured artist." In April 2019, Zoey headlined a sold-out show at The Waiting Room in London, later played the BBC Introducing stage, "Summer by the river," in July 2019, and, to round off the year, she headlined Academy Music Group’s "October Sessions" at the O2 Islington.

Looking into 2021, Zoey Lily not only has the release of her first EP to look forward to but her involvement in the Tommy Jeans Spring 2021 campaign having been selected and invited into the Tommy family alongside 23 other music artists from all around the world. 

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What or who inspired you to get into music?

My parents are the main reason that music holds such a big place in my heart. My dad used to be in a band when he was younger and he taught me my first chords on the guitar. I grew up listening to old-school Jazz, Soul, Funk, and Rock’n’Roll because that’s the kind of music my parents listened to. My mum also got me into classical music from an early age and I still really love it up to this day. I started writing songs when I was thirteen and it has been a consistent endeavour of mine ever since.

How would you describe your style of music and performance? How would you describe your philosophy and style as an artist?

Previously I would have described my music as melancholic alternative pop but the songs on my upcoming EP are more diverse venturing into UK garage and more upbeat and light-hearted tracks. But sad harmonies and chord progressions will always define my music.

I incorporate poetry, fashion, and dancing into my artistry, I love to use different art forms for my creative expression. Personally, I believe a big part of being an artist is also what you stand for. I use my platform to talk about important political and social issues that require more attention. 

What drives you to create, and how do you define success for yourself in music?

The process of creating is what inspires and fulfills me the most. My songs are usually based on an emotion, a thought, or an experience. I love creating something tangible out of something that only you could access beforehand. If through that, I can touch, empower or help other people, I see that as success. 

Throughout your career, who were the most beneficial people in getting you to where you wanted to be? Was it management, assistants, A&Rs? How did they help?

In my case, it was my manager Marcel who supported me from day one and believed in me before I even fully believed in myself. I’ve been making music all my life because I love it so much but without him, I probably wouldn’t have dared to share it with the world and take it to a professional level. 

Sometimes being in this business can be really overwhelming. Do you have any tips for maintaining perspective and not sweating the small stuff?

Being an artist means you’re vulnerable to people’s judgement and criticism. I always tell myself that if it was easy everyone would be doing it. The only way forward is to keep pushing and learning from failures rather than dwelling on them. Looking back there are hundreds of things I wish I had done differently but at that time, I didn’t know any better. It’s all part of the journey and as long as I feel like I’m growing on a personal and musical level I know I’m going in the right direction. 

How much creative freedom do you have when working with producers, co-writers, and mixing engineers? How do you know if a collaborator is a good fit for that?

For me, a good collaborator is someone who wants to understand my creative vision and help me realise it. I love working with people who play actual instruments rather than solely producing on a laptop. I personally feel that breathes more life into music. I write and pre-produce most of my songs in my bedroom and then take the pre-produced material to producers/mixers/musicians.

What advice do you have for up-and-coming artists?

Persistence is key. An artist career is not an easy path nor a fast route but I believe hard work and consistency always pays and plays out. 

Believe in yourself because if you don’t, no one else will. You must be your own biggest cheerleader. 

Take risks and get out of your comfort zone, I believe to have a shot at being a successful artist you need to give it your all. 

What's next for you? Any upcoming projects or plans for 2021?

I will release my first EP this year, I will film my first few music videos and I am sincerely hoping I can go back to playing live shows which is one of my favourite parts of being an artist.

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