It took Lily & Madeleine almost four years to finish their latest album. But “Nite Swim” is finally out, and while there are some familiar sounds from the folk/pop sister duo from Indianapolis, the album is also a major departure from their previous work in several ways. Lily & Madeleine spoke to WFYI’s Ray Steele.
RAY STEELE: Lily, why did “Nite Swim” take so long?
LILY: That’s a good question…
STEELE: Okay, Madeleine, what do you think?
MADELEINE: I mean, the pandemic certainly had something to do with that. And we wanted this record, we wanted to make it with our good friend Shannon Hayden. She produced the record. And she's been playing with us for a long time about like, 10 years. So, the project just kind of unfolded. And we didn't even really have a release date in mind. It just took as long as it needed to take, which was like three years.
LILY: Yeah, in early 2020, we severed ties with our label and our booking agent, we were going to, like start fresh. And it was just really poor timing, because then we didn't really know what to do for like, three years.
STEELE: Why did you think you needed to start fresh?
LILY: We just didn't, we weren't a great fit on our last label. And we just wanted to change, you know, the way that our career looked. And I mean, I think we still do, and the industry has changed so much in the past three years that whatever we intended to seek out, we're still kind of looking for I think.
STEELE: Your first album without a record label, how does that affect what you do and how you do it, Madeline?
MADELEINE: It makes everything a lot more challenging but allows us to have more control. So, it's both really frustrating and really empowering. Because we're paying for everything ourselves. And so, any money that we've made this year has gone back into the band, back into the business. And that's just what you do, I guess, when you're a small business owner, when you're an entrepreneur, because that's what we are, you know, artists and also business owners. So, we've had to be really selective about things. Like for example, we knew that we wanted to put the record on vinyl. But not many people buy CDs. And so we thought, let's just not print CDs right now. We'll save that cost, and we'll put it towards something else. So maybe next year, we'll print CDs, but we just couldn't afford it at the moment and just decided to be more selective with our budget.
STEELE: And yes, people buy vinyl, but that's still only a select few people way people get their music these days. And as we know, and as we've heard repeatedly, streaming does not pay the artists a whole lot.
LILY: It's crazy. It really feels abysmal sometimes, and I try to think more about the joy of creating art and connecting with fans rather than the fact that, you know, there's just not a lot of money in it.
STEELE: Let's talk about the album itself and the music audit, in listening to it. And in listening to your previous stuff this album seems for, for lack of a better term, darker. Is that fair?
STEELE: Why is that, Lily?
Well, I think because I wrote most of it, I would say and it's about some really tragic, awful stuff. I mean, not to just like launch into all of it right now. But yeah, I mean, Madeleine and I started when you were so young, and I think that there's a lot of moments on the album that are kind of touching on the coping mechanisms. And the, you know, the person that I've developed into as a result of doing this so young.
STEELE: I want to reference a lyric from “No Part of Me”, which is the third track on the album. The lyric is “no part of me wants a part of you, love me and leave like you always do.” That sounds quite personal
LILY: Yeah. I mean, it's a breakup song, but the message of the song, it's not really about that one person. It's about like, you know, everybody leaves. When they find out who you are. They don't like you. I mean, I think that's a pretty universal experience for people in their 20s.
MADELEINE: Yeah, just the anxieties around that.
STEELE: There’s also different instrumentation, it sounded like, too than what you've used in the past. There was synth in there that sounded like something from the 80s from my era, or from a “Stranger Things” episode. Electric guitar with a lot of fuzz behind it. It’s a different sound than what we might be used to from you.
MADELEINE: And I noticed that you introduced us as folk pop duo and I still say that, but like I wonder to everybody…
STEELE: That’s how everybody introduces you.
MADELEINE: Yeah, I don’t know what else to say…
STEELE: Sorry to interrupt, but I was going to ask how to introduce you, because that irritates me when I hear folk pop duo personally, because I hear so many different things in you. But that's the standard introduction for Lily & Madeline, and it has been for 10 years now.
MADELEINE: Yeah, I really am not even sure what our genre is anymore. It's just like, I don't know. My favorite part about being in the studio is that opportunity to just really experiment and to kind of like, think outside the box and to mix synths with beautiful, you know orchestral strings and acoustic guitar and layered harmonies? I don't know. I don't know what we are anymore.
STEELE: Well, it's a good album, don't get me wrong it is there's a really, really good album is just if you're used to a certain sound, I think you might be surprised and hopefully enlightened a little bit. You touched on this a little bit when you talk about going out on your own without a record label paying for everything. What does that mean for you going forward trying to do this full time? Do you even know yet?
LILY: No, I mean, we're really taking it I would say month by month at this point. And also, I want to say like, I don't really know anybody in our demographic that's doing well financially right now, regardless of occupation. So, I also don't feel that crazy about not making money as a musician, because I really don't know anybody that has any money anymore. So, I don't know. I mean, I just tried to focus on the art and the connecting with people because yeah, I mean, right now we're at a point… we're thinking about the record. Still, we're thinking about the tour coming up. And then I want to start making a new record next year, top next year, and hopefully we can have another one out maybe even this time next year. I don't know. We'll see. I mean, now that we are more DIY, I think it does allow us for a more flexible timeline.
Lily & Madeleine’s new album is called “Nite Swim.” Information is available at LilandMad.com.