After a brief period of stagnation in the latter half of the past decade, indie rock is in a particularly healthy place right now, due in large part to the success of female artists. While they haven’t crossed over in terms of radio hits, artists like Phoebe Bridgers and Mitski have captured the hearts and minds of a younger, more diverse audience that recognizes good songwriting even if they haven’t listened to Band of Horses. Songwriters like Julien Baker and Adrienne Lenker are responsible for some of the most acclaimed albums of the past five years. And Taylor Swift’s National-assisted turn towards indie folk solidified her reputation as one of the most successful artists of our time.
Into this scene enters Lily Kelso, a nineteen year old from Laguna Beach currently studying at the Berklee College of Music. She’s an indie rock songwriter, and her latest song, “DETAILS,” marks the arrival of a young talent to watch. Boasting a rich guitar sound and a rhythm section that provides excellent forward momentum, Kelso sings in a warm, husky voice that feels refreshingly unaffected. As Kelso explains in the following interview, it’s a song about her family and her decision to go to Berklee, and as she reassures them that there’s “no place like home,” the song feels sweet and comforting to match.
Was there any particular inspiration behind this song?
This song was inspired by my family. They have so graciously supported me pursuing music, but when I told them I wanted to move across the country to go to Berklee, they took some time to warm up to the idea. This song is about how I felt leading up to the move, and a reassurance to my family that no matter how far I go, where they are will always be home.
Who are your major songwriting influences?
My major songwriting influences have changed over the years but there are a few that will always hold a place in my heart. Elliot Smith, Taylor John Williams, The Cure, Joni Mitchell, Phoebe Bridgers and Bon Iver are some persistent favorites.
How do you balance your school work with your music career?
The balance between school and music is a complicated one and I’m not sure that it will ever come easy. But, I try my best to adhere to the idea that where your time goes, your life will follow. My goal is to do the best job I can at everything in life, then the things that are priorities (personal health, practicing, homework, writing, studying) become the things I make time for even when it is difficult. Also it has helped to remember that the point of it all is to be learning and growing instead of just getting the work done.
What’s the first thing you want to do when the pandemic’s over?
The biggest thing that I have missed over the course of the pandemic is live music. Whether at church, school, or concerts, the world of live music has been drastically changed by COVID. I hope that soon we can gather to celebrate art in person, and cannot wait to play and go to shows.
What are your ambitions for the future?
When I think of my ambitions and hopes for the future it only takes a minute for a whole list to come to mind, but I’ll keep this brief. Short-term, I hope to record a full album, play some live shows, and continue growing as a writer, performer, producer, and engineer. Long term, I hope to graduate from Berklee of College of Music with a degree in Music Production and Engineering, continue to write and record original music, work in a studio, and go on tour. Wherever life may take me, if I can wake up and play music for the rest of my life my dreams will have come true.