Its been three years now since I've lived in San Francisco. While a few of my old friends still reside there, an overwhelming number have ventured elsewhere - many have traded the West Coast for the East, settling in New York as I did. But recently there's been a steady migration path to Los Angeles, a beckoning call to musicians and artists from San Francisco and New York alike. Two of the more recent transplants happen to be my old friends Kirsten Knick and Will Ivy whose forces combined make up the band LILAC. I've followed their sound since their first hazy bedroom recordings, but their most recent track "Shame" reflects on a grittier reality of the two artists' combined passion. Behind the dreamy psychedelic visuals lies something slightly darker, and I caught up with Kirsten and Will to find out what it was...
I've watched your new video for 'Shame' (directed by Chris Letson & Ryan Doherty) a few times now. Did you have a concept for the visuals going into it or was it the directors' vision?
Will Ivy We were watching this Amon Düül II video and we were inspired by the green screen…
Kirsten Knick The animations over silhouettes and faces
W Yeah, we didn't want it to be very content driven or anything, we basically showed them (Chris Letson & Ryan Doherty) the Amon Düül II video and told them that we wanted it to mostly correspond with the movement of the song more than anything - and they pretty much got it and did a really fabulous job. We weren't involved in the editing at all, we were really shocked that they just nailed it!
K We've been naturally inspired by the 90's sound and paisley underground and rough trade, and all of these records that were coming out in the 90's that had this synchronicity of aesthetic that was kind of 60's psychedelic. That's where the inspiration for the video animations came from, which ended up as flowers, and like…weird squiggly lines during the breakdown. I was actually on acid while filming the video, so everything that's going on in the final product was going on in my head!
I love when you can give a project to someone else and it turns out better than you expected! Kirsten - I remember last time we were talking about "Shame" you were describing the song's contents and lyrics as containing darker themes, yet you wanted to keep the melody uptempo…
K It is based on The Story Of O (by Pauline Réage) which we read a while ago. When we wrote the song we incorporated the story in a way that made it more dreamy and less dark…
W The initial inspiration for the content of the song came from experiencing a lot of subcultures and weird shit in San Francisco, one of which is KINK.COM who bought out a huge building in the Mission called The Armory - which was formerly used for building tanks for the army, but now it's a porn castle! And I have a friend in San Francisco who would get list spots for this thing called 'public disgrace', or 'public shaming' and I went with a few friends once because it was an open bar, and we were always down to do bizarre stuff like that. So I witnessed this BDSM culture first hand, where a lot of imagery is drawn from The Story Of O - a girl was basically put in front of an audience and then tortured in an erotic way. And I thought that the whole Story Of O…BDSM…all of that, was an interesting symbol for inner turmoil and people's interactions with the world. I feel like it also has something to do with how sex and desire can make your mind betray you. The fast-driven nature of the song seemed natural, full of angst and passion!
K I've always loved Georges Bataille and Venus In Furs - masochism and sadomasochism in general inspires me. We recorded the record during our break-up, which is why it has a heavier sound. Will and I had a lot of tension while we were writing songs together. It was just a rougher, darker time in our lives, so when we were writing there was a lot of angst. At the same time, we were reading The Story Of O together as friends and partners. For some reason the story just made sense - to be in separate places emotionally - it was kind of sadistic in a way, trying to hold back from our feelings for one another. It was torture and painful, but we were writing beautiful things together. It just tied into our current state at the time.
As a band, you moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles - how does where you live affect your work?
W Our new stuff is much poppier and brighter, as opposed the full-length which has its darker and heavier moments. I mean its hard to be angry and grungy when you live in beautiful sun-lit Los Angeles, California
K I can't write as much! I normally…I didn't realize this…I'd write the most when I was sad, and I guess I was much sadder in San Francisco. Being here is just too nice! I'm content.
Coming from the fashion scene in New York, there used to be this thought that it was very competitive and hardcore, and everyone is pitting against each other…but in reality I've found that its really supportive! Is that kind of what the LA scene's like with music right now?
W I think that's absolutely true about LA! Everybody's been so supportive, interested, excited, and everybody helps each other out.
K Everyone's really motivated and not just in a totally selfish way! Its similar feelings, if you're creative in any form, people are there for you.
W People like going to shows here!
Music video for "Shame" by Lilac
Directed by Chris Letson & Ryan Doherty
Edited/Composited by Chris Letson
Animation by Ryan Doherty
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Custom sigil design (below) by Todd Pendu
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