Milwaukee-raised songstress Lili K was first featured on Lake Effect in February 2016 after her first album Ruby was released. Since then, the singer has kept busy - she performed at major national music festivals, appeared as a background vocalist on FOX’s hit show Empire, and had a Jazz Night Residency at Soho House Chicago.
Audiences first met Lili K in stand-out guest features, for artists such as Chance the Rapper and Vic Mensa. Now she and her band are gearing up to release new original content this spring.
Her second album, Planet of Flowers, is the result of a completely collaborative endeavor with her band. "I wanted everyone to feel more ownership over the music and have it mean something to everybody - not just me," says Lili K. "So we wrote the new album collectively."
She notes that for this album, the group "threw genre out the window and weren't concerned which what box the songs fit in to. We just created."
Guitarist Cullen Bogan says that while he didn't have a certain objective in mind for Planet of Flowers, each song would "morph into something new as each band member got their hands on it."
For drummer Myron Cherry, "it was a matter of exploration to see how far I could take it within the parameters (of the music). What can I add to this that will add texture or rhythmic depth...and be for everybody?"
Lili K says that she and her band have established a comfort level that allows freedom to change the music - both in the studio and during live shows.
"We have a collective 'force' amongst the five of us when we get on stage," adds Cherry. "Five people, just one mind. And where it goes - enjoy it. Hope you catch it."
Lili K notes that the shared experience of performance and collaboration is one of the many things that keeps her passion for music alive. "The most beautiful thing about music is how it is shared with people and with community, and how it makes us feel and how it helps us connect with one another."
One of the most important examples of that power of music, according to Lili K, is her recent song Magic.
After its release, the song's message was not only shared among her fan base, but platforms such as universities, rape crisis centers and domestic violence centers all across the country.
"It was really cool to see these serious centers that are helping women sharing that, because it meant, 'OK, this can help people.'... Of course the upbeat and fun songs are great to do live, but the more serious subject matter means so much when it could actually change somebody's life," says Lili K.
Whether it's songs or personal statements on social media addressing issues like sexism, racial inequality, police brutality or systemic oppression, Lili K says, "it's so important to use whatever voice and whatever privilege I have to address those things."
"My end goal is pretty much equality for everyone and it's crazy to me that people don't agree with that. So if that's what I'm going to get backlash for, that's fine and it's worth it," she continues. "I would never enter into a situation where I had to change myself or water myself down. Because that's not fair to me, it's not fair to my happiness and I know that I wouldn't be as in love with music if I had to change how I was doing it."
Lili K and her band will be in Milwaukee on October 28th at Company Brewing to perform in the Nightmare on Center Street music festival presented by Voodoo Honey Records.