By Matthew Mahoney
Parlour Tricks, who have gone by Lily and the Parlour Tricks previously, sat down with WSN during their time at CMJ’s Artist and Press Lounge. The entire sextet, which is currently based in New York City and creates catchy indie-pop songs, could not be in attendance, but front woman Lily Claire and bassist Brian Kesley were able to chat about their music and plans for the future.
WSN: What is the meaning behind your name?
LC: The name is just something, when we started the band, was a phrase that I always liked and the connotations. I liked the idea that people would get together in a home and entertain each other, which is really what the six of us do together. And, it’s fun to say and other people can interpret it how they want to.
WSN: What has changed since the formation of the band in the two years you all have been performing together?
LC: Everything — except the personnel! We’ve gone through a big evolution, revolution… The music has evolved and the way that we perform has also changed. We did a huge renovation very naturally. We started working with a producer that we love and we’ve grown up.
WSN: So you guys are currently working with Emery Dobyns in Nashville, how is that process going?
LC: It’s fabulous.
BK: We’re pretty much done.
LC: The last two singles we released, “Requiem” and “Lovesongs,” were from that batch of recordings, and we have a bunch of other songs that we’re going to release in one fashion or another. We’re really enjoying releasing singles right now, which has a nice pace to it, but definitely a larger release, probably an EP in 2015.
WSN: How does your songwriting process work?
LC: I write the skeletons of these songs. I either start with a phrase, both melody and the lyrics, or the bass line. And then I get it as far as I want to or can, sometimes. But I get the basic form of the song down and the three part harmonies are always done. That’s a part that always has to be concrete, and then together we flesh it out and make the arrangements the way that they are.
WSN: You guys have three songs out at the moment; “Lovesongs,” “Requiem,” and “Belle Gunness.” What’s the meaning/inspiration behind these songs?
LC: “Belle Gunness” is about a 19th century murderess who lived in the Midwest, who would put an ad in the paper, like a lonely hearts ad, looking for a husband because she had a lot of land and money. She was not an attractive woman, but it didn’t matter. And she would ostensibly lure men to her house and then they would disappear and they were never heard from again.
BK: And she would make people bring proof of their wealth. They would show up with deeds and cash and whatever else was used to prove that they were also wealthy,
LC: So then they would marry and then inherit all of their wealth…
BK: Because she would kill them.
LC: And her house burnt down, but her body was never found, so they don’t actually know what happened to her. And she had a groundskeeper on her farm, and he was in love with her, and he would help her marry all of her victims, so the song is from his perspective and is therefore a love song…the other two… “Lovesongs” is about love songs, it’s just about listening to love songs and that feeling you get after, and “Requiem” is that frustrated relationship feeling where you’re not getting what you want, and you triumphantly say goodbye. So I’d say it’s a positive break-up song.
WSN: Why should people pay attention to the Parlour Tricks?
LC: Because we’re so nice.
BK: We’re really nice — we don’t mean any harm,
LC: I meant it’s why not really?
BK: You’ve got nothing to lose.
Matthew Mahoney is a staff writer. Email him at email@example.com