Lily and the Parlour Tricks are blowing up fast. With three beautiful singers and three talented musicians behind them, they are quickly becoming unstoppable. They have a BMW sync, interesting videos, and a unique sound reminiscent of vintage vocal groups. Check out www.parlourtricksmusic.com on Tuesday Oct 14th for the music video to their last single Love Songs. I caught up with them at their CBGB Festival show at Knitting Factory BK to see what it’s all about.
DBM: How does the songwriting process work?
Lily: I’ll write the three part harmony and often a bass line. I get that skeleton. And together we create everything else. Very rare is the occasion where it’s ready-to-go. I get the form, at least all the parts; the verses, the choruses, maybe a if there is a bridge. The most fundamental parts are done and then all the important stuff, like turning it into a song, we do together.
DBM: How did the group form? This is a diverse group of people from all over. Why six members instead of say a power trio?
Brian: It was a power trio. Then we got Lily. (Laugh) Lily: Then you lost your powers (Laugh) Brian: The three dudes and Lily were playing together for a hot minute. And that was terrible. It was really pretty rough. We went back to the drawing board, and Lily knew Didi and Morgan from college, and got them to come in and sing these three part harmonies.
DBM: Did you feel that you knew, “This group just needs vocals?”
All: Yes. Absolutely. 100%. Lily: Sung by women. (Laugh) It couldn’t NOT be six people. It just couldn’t. It wouldn’t be this band.
DBM: Your group is regarded as very harmonically vocal-centric. What musical groups would you say inspires that? I saw a comment that said you are a mix of Nine Inch Nails and the Andrews Sisters.
Lily: That’s like the furthest reaches on either end of the spectrum that you could use to explain what it sounds like. And it doesn’t literally sound like that, obviously. But yea, we take a lot from early harmonic groups like the Andrews Sisters. Or then The Beach Boys and T-Rex and stuff. There are a lot of bands that have used dense vocal harmony that I definitely pull from when I’m writing vocal parts. But I like to feel like we’re coming into our own as far as that’s concerned. It doesn’t really sound like anything.
DBM: (Didi) As another vocalist, do you have anything to add to groups that inspire you, especially vocally?
Didi: It’s a dream, the harmonies that Lily writes. It’s fun to sing, they’re so much fun to sing. I think it is evolving quite rapidly and we’re settling into something. It’s gone from that more traditional ‘three ladies harmony thing’ into now it’s just a really big sound. It feels like we’re all kind of meshing more, I would say.
DBM: Do the guys sing?
Lily: Angelo often yells on stage. Angelo: I’m waiting for the mic, it’s coming to me. Brian: Every gig, “We’ll get you a mic, Angelo. Next gig we’ll get you a mic.” (Laugh)
DMB: For the rhythm section, are you trying to bring anything specific (as far as musical influences) to the group?
Brian: Wanna see a video of Terry shredding to a Herbie Hancock tune?
DBM: Of course!
Terry: “Sly” from the Headhunters record. I’ve tried to make it as rich sonically and texturally as possible. Brian plays three instruments at the same time with four limbs. It’s pretty remarkable. And Angelo does stuff that scientists haven’t discovered yet. (Laugh) For us, it’s providing a really solid foundation musically for them (vocalists). There are places to kind of shine through. But there’s cohesion between the six of us. Someone said at a recent show, all six parts are equally important and if you take one away it wouldn’t be the same. If you added something, it would be completely different. We’ve been playing together for a while, but it’s really kind of come together. This thing is really a singular entity.
DBM: You recently had a BMW sync. Will there be more licensing in the future?
Lily: The BMW commercial just got mercifully picked up for another year, so that’s nice. We are about to sign with a licensing company; hopefully it will unfold in our favor.
DBM: Some movie trailers?
Lily: Yes, I would love that!
(Morgan joins us)
DBM: Maybe you can share some influences you bring to the group?
Morgan: I was born and raised in France so I listened to different music that these guys did. I have giant gaps in my Top 40s. It’s really bad.
DBM: But then you have a different mindset, growing up in another part of the world, not knowing that kind of music.
Morgan: Yea, that’s true. Definitely.
DBM: Do any of you know any actual Parlour Tricks?
Brian: I can clap with one hand.
DBM: Maybe silly stuff like tearing a phone book in half?