Name: Black Lilys
Members: Camille Faure, Robin Faure
Interviewee: Camille Faure

Nationality: French

Occupation: Guitar, songwriter, producer (Robin Faure), vocalist, songwriter; producer (Camille Faure)
Current Release: Black Lilys's New Era is out via La Ruche.

If you enjoyed this interview with Black Lilys and would like to know more about the duo, visit their official website. They're also on Instagram, Facebook, and twitter.

Where does the impulse to create something come from for you? What role do often-quoted sources of inspiration like dreams, other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play?

It depends, it can be very unpredictable. We started writing music two months after our mother passed away. We didn't plan anything, we just met in our father's basement, without even a word said to each other. It became our own way to communicate through music. Since then, creativity has come as a real need.

We started writing the second album after a wonderful James Thierré’s play, called "La Grenouille avait raison". It was so impressive, poetic and wild, I went home smiling in tears and called my brother telling him to come with me to the show the day after. Rob loved it too, and a day later we decided to write a new album. That show gave us so much energy, hope and inspiration.

The impulse comes from different directions, that's the magic of it. You have to catch it when it's there. It's fragile and powerful at the same time, like a flower. Once, inspiration came to me in my dream, it was just a word, "Yaläkta" and it later became the title of our song.

There were so many things to write about in the last few years. We both felt revolted, which was a new emotion to tame and transform into our songs.

We grew up close to nature, which inspired us a lot. So often, even before the lyrics are created, we visualise the melody and draw colourful landscapes around the song.

What do you start with? How difficult is that first line of text, the first note?

When the inspiration for melodies or lyrics comes, it can be very impulsive. I need to quickly find a blank paper and a pen and I usually record a melody on my phone for later. However, to arrange and weave around the song, I need time and loneliness.

Same for Rob, who will usually create with his acoustic guitar first.

When do the lyrics enter the picture? Where do they come from? Do lyrics need to grow together with the music or can they emerge from a place of their own?

Lyrics come usually in an imaginary language, it’s very raw and unsettled. You can feel your soul speaking to you. When this happens, I feel the urge to express it but it usually takes time. Then, there’s always one word, one emotion stronger than others. It’s the birth of the song.

One day, I wish to leave these songs as they came to me, fresh and crude, gathering them together, into an album.

What makes lyrics good in your opinion? What are your own ambitions and challenges in this regard?

The best lyrics are the ones you didn’t change much, in my opinion. I don’t like when there are too many rhymes, it robs something from the song. Words are wild, I like when they are astonishing.

I have a weird relationship with songwriting. Some days, I don’t feel so confident, because English is not my mother tongue. On the other hand, I feel it is a strength because you see the words from a different angle, which can break some boundaries. The same, as people will never stop writing love songs, although there are millions of them, the perspective always changes ever so slightly, yet we recognise ourselves in them.

The more I learn about myself, the better my writing gets. I like to think, lyrics are a whole entity, one block, like a unique being with its own story, behaviour, and fears.

Once you've started, how does the work gradually emerge?

We got used to writing together. With the lockdown, we were forced to do differently, out of our comfort zone. It was remarkably scary. Many melodies are written by Rob, others by me. As an example, I started "New Era" and Rob started "Reckless". This gave many unique characters to this album.

"Party" is the last one we wrote as a conclusion for the album. It took us about an hour, sitting in the same room, jamming, just like we used to do, in our dad’s basement.

For sound production, we’re usually together. Being in the same room creates a productive environment, where interesting ideas mix freely.

Many writers have claimed that as soon as they enter into the process, certain aspects of the narrative are out of their hands. Do you like to keep strict control over the process or is there a sense of following things where they lead you?

It's an interesting question, I do feel this way with my lyrics sometimes. I sit down at the piano with a strong belief or intention of what I will write about, but it just doesn’t want to form a shape. The song is going somewhere else. Something that is still undeveloped, but seems to be important to express.

Often, while writing, new ideas and alternative roads will open themselves up, pulling and pushing the creator in a different direction. Does this happen to you, too, and how do you deal with it? What do you do with these ideas?

I remember when we produced “Invisible Strings”, we were missing something at the end of the song. We started to play with different sounds and Rob found this Russian instrument and started to play with it. We actually had a good laugh dancing in the room experimenting with the sound. I never thought we would use it, but the following day when we revisited the project, we absolutely loved it. It became an important sound of the song.

This sort of experimenting can lead you to interesting roads sometimes. It happened a few times to us.

Especially in the digital age, the writing and production process tends towards the infinite. What marks the end of the process? How do you finish a work?

The perfect song doesn’t exist, there’s no such thing, otherwise, artists would stop writing music. It is especially true when it comes to vocal sound. It’s perfect when it’s imperfect because it’s human to be imperfect.

The digital age is complicated and sometimes dangerous, it tends to clear or smooth out natural imperfections. We actually kept a lot from our demos, the imperfections were pure and raw and we couldn’t reproduce them. I heard producers adding noises like vinyl crackling sounds to their songs to add warmth, and to sound less digital.  

The key for us is to detach ourselves from the artist inside of us who would always want to change and correct every tiny flaw but instead, let our souls decide if we’ve let the core of the song appear. If we feel we did ,we have to let it go, we’ve done our part, and the song’s journey can begin.

Once a piece is finished, how important is it for you to let it lie and evaluate it later on? How much improvement and refinement do you personally allow until you're satisfied with a piece? What does this process look like in practice?

The surroundings are very important. We like to isolate ourselves in the mountains usually or in the wild somewhere to be able to get away when our vision is blurred by hours of work.

Nature simply resets you in the right place, especially when it’s a dark journey you need to go through. Nature influenced our songwriting a lot. Trees, mountains, and ocean waves are very imposing, they make you feel tiny and silence your mind. In this environment, it’s easier to listen to our own echoes and ideas naturally come to life.

Taking a step back during the creation process is critical, even if it can be difficult and frustrating.

What's your take on the role and importance of production, including mixing and mastering for you personally? How involved do you get in this?

It takes a whole village to make an album. New Era was written in Scotland, recorded in the French Alps, and mixed in Norway. An album born between different mountains.

It’s so important to choose the right people to collaborate with, we learnt how important it is during creating this album. To mix the sounds, we worked with Odd Martin who is known for his work with Sigrid and Aurora. He was very sensitive and dedicated to transferring our vision to sound. He brought much more than we expected, and working with him was a great experience.

Later on, the album was mastered by Alexis Bardinet from Globe Audio in France and he did an amazing job. He works with analogical machines only, which is super interesting and gives a real warmth to the final sound. We’re glad we had these talented people by our side.

After finishing a piece or album and releasing something into the world, there can be a sense of emptiness. Can you relate to this – and how do you return to the state of creativity after experiencing it?

Certainly, we can relate to this. We are about to release our second album New Era. We worked so much on this album and went through so many different emotions, like fascination, amusement, doubt, fear and joy while creating it. A whole period of our life is packed in it. However, once it’s out, they’re also detached, as if it didn’t belong to us anymore. The best part is to see it living through people who are listening to it.

I love to hear people saying they find shelter in our songs. Music saved us in a very dark period of our lives, and knowing our music can also help is the best gift.

There are many descriptions of the creative state. How would you describe it for yourself personally? Is there an element of spirituality to what you do?

I do believe your soul is taking over your mind when you’re creating something aligned with yourself. It’s a brief moment in the whole creation process. Like an orgasm is only a few seconds when you make love. We learnt a lot through our music, sometimes you think you have control, that you know exactly what you talked about in the songs.

A few years later, you can hear or read hidden messages you’ve been inconsequential sending to yourself.