Interview with The Stargazer Lilies


Hi Kim and John!  It’s quite a delight to chat with you about your new band and upcoming debut album We Are The Dreamers.  You’re no strangers to the music scene, since you were both integral members of the dream-pop band Soundpool.  What’s the reason behind your move from Soundpool to The Stargazer Lilies?

John:  Hi Jen, the pleasure is ours! There are lots of reasons.  I’ll let Kim field this one (No pun intended).

Kim:  We started what basically became Soundpool in 2001. We poured everything into that band for many, many years…. I think through a series of very unfortunate events… it was obvious to us that we just needed to have a clean start. John and I started playing around with writing some new stuff a few years ago. As soon as we started writing during that period we knew the songs weren’t Soundpool songs. There was something totally different, to us, about the material we were coming up with. It really wasn’t an intentional departure. It was just the timing and I think something that we needed to do creatively and emotionally.

John: I’ll just add that there were other logistical factors which pushed us in a new direction. And it should be said that we still have every intention of picking Soundpool back up again at some point.

There are not one, but two drummers in your band, EJ DeCoske and Johnny Lancia.  Did they both contribute to your debut album or are they in your employ for live performances only?  Why are there two drummers?  Is there an emphasis on rhythm and pace on your songs where you’d need double the drum power?

Kim: The record was created solely by me and John. Going back to venturing past Soundpool and on to another project… Having two drummers has allowed us to be open to most all shows that come our way. Soundpool was a 5-piece band. That takes a lot of jumping through hoops when it comes to scheduling shows and financing tours. On this level… we all have to work hard to pay the bills outside of music. So it just makes sense to have two drummers so that touring and shows are more manageable.

John: I would really love to play with both of them live at the same time. Unfortunately, the reason we have 2 separate drummers is purely logistical.

We’ll be playing with both drummers on our record release show which is at the Paper Box in Brooklyn on October 21st.

How does Tobacco of Black Moth Super Rainbow fit into the line-up?  I read that he’s curating your album release, but I’m not sure what that means…

John:  He came in and narrowed nearly two albums worth of material down to one album, which ended up having a pretty big influence on the outcome of this record. He also made some suggestions on how the songs were mixed.

Kim:  Also, he helped us choose the artwork for the album which was hugely important. There were a few different super-strong images that we were going between for the cover. The one we ended up with was totally Tobacco’s idea… and I think it ended up being perfect. Our art is by The Seven Field’s of Aphelion… who just happens to be Tobacco’s wife and also member of Black Moth Super Rainbow.

While the sound of The Stargazer Lilies is in the same dream-pop genre as Soundpool, you’ve stated that you’ve deliberately pared down the sonics as The Stargazer Lilies.  Why no more love of the q-chord and omnichord?  Why do you want to strip down your sound?

Kim:  Actually I do play omnichord on one song which probably no one has heard yet. But it’s on the record. It’s titled “How We lost”. Synths are awesome… and I don’t think we deliberately avoided them. Take for instance that song which just called for the dramatic sound of the omnichord. But in general I think we’d like this project to transfer to live as a 3-piece without missing too much from the recordings.

John: I think we like the fact that this project is guitar-centric. Kim loves playing the q-chord and omnichord but she’s really digging playing the bass guitar in TSL now. In Soundpool both Mark and Kim were playing synths so the guitar was always just another texture in the pool of sound. With TSL the guitars no longer have to share sonic space with the synths so they have taken a leading role in our sound by default.

At your website Ben Malkin writes that your sound is “cosmic ambient”.  I definitely pick up that vibe on your title song and “Endless Days”.  Which ambient artists do you admire?

John:  Auburn Lull, Stars of the Lid, The Seven Fields of Aphelion, Windy and Carl, Christy Romanick, Manual, A Winged Victory for the Sullen, Boards of Canada, Ulrich Schnauss, Hammock… to name a few influential artists I consider to be “ambient” and listen to a lot.

Kim: I don’t think we ever really reach the level of ambience the aforementioned artists we love have… but they definitely have inspired us in one way or another.

“Endless Days” is very cosmic… John and I both think about cosmic stuff a lot. I am always trying to tap into/meditate on cosmic energy. It’s kind of the only thing that gets me through some days. It’s like I know the energy is there! I just haven’t yet figured out how to tap into the center and make it work for me. Maybe it’s just about giving up.

I’ve been a fan of the shoegazer genre since its inception and some of my fave bands are Lush, Secret Shine, Slowdive, and My Bloody Valentine.  “We Are The Dreamers” channels the slow-warp wooziness of My Bloody Valentine and the pensive, airy vocals of Lush.  Which shoegazer-tagged bands from the early 1990s are your faves?

Kim:  My all time favorite is Slowdive hands down. The album Souvlaki will forever be perfect to me. I grew up on Mazzy Star even though I don’t know that they are so shoegaze… But I think they belong in that whole 90’s grouping. I still listen to my Mazzy Star records regularly. MBV of course. They’ve always been amazing. Will always be amazing. Those are the 3 bands from the 90’s I was most obsessed with and still am.

John:  MBV, Medicine, Chapterhouse, Slowdive, and Bowery Electric (slightly later) and before then JAMC are some of my fave 90’s shoegaze-tagged bands. Not sure if Stereolab would fit in there but definitely feel like I should mention them since they came out in the early 90’s.

We Are The Dreamers will be released on Graveface Records on October 22nd.  How did you connect with that record label?

John: We’ve known Ryan Graveface since around 2009 when Soundpool opened for BMSR. We saw him at a party, passed him a demo disc of TSL and he asked us if we wanted to play the Graveface Fest which was happening later that year (which was last year). He expressed his interest in releasing our record after our set at that festival… and we’re really psyched to be part of the Graveface family!

The Stargazer Lilies - We Are The Dreamers

The Stargazer Lilies – We Are The Dreamers

Your album cover is so beautiful and captures the hazy, dreamy quality of your sound into a visual.  You mentioned earlier that The Seven Fields of Aphelion created the artwork.  Is it actually a manipulated photo or a painting or…?

John: All the photos for the album art were shot by The Seven Fields of Aphelion and we couldn’t be happier with how well the images fit the music. Kim and I are big fans of both her photography and her music. The design is by Ryan McCardle. We thought his creative contribution fit perfectly as well!

You’ve played some shows this past September and will be touring the East Coast shortly, with your album release party coming up soon.  What can we expect for the live experience?  How does your live sound compare to your recordings?  Do you try to fry listeners’ ears at times like My Bloody Valentine or switch up the pace of songs at all?

Kim: We will be playing with both EJ & Johnny for our record release at Paper Box, but not as a 4-piece. I think we’ll switch drummers during set. We’re still working that out… so you’ll have to come to find out!

John: Just to clarify… EJ and Johnny are each doing about half of the tour… then they’re splitting the set at our release party. Regarding live verses recordings… in both areas we’re going for maximum sound with minimal instrumentation. I don’t think we want to fry anyone’s ears and I’m not sure MBV actually tries to fry people’s ears either since they always give out ear plugs at their shows… but they certainly fried my ears. I suffered the worst bout of tinnitus of my life after one of their concerts.

I honestly don’t think it’s our goal to be one of the loudest bands in the scene though. The effect we’re going for live is big, wide, full, expansive, etc… Volume is of course part the equation… but I don’t believe we’re loud for loud’s sake. To get the maximum effect and impact from our live performances… we use dynamics. While sections of our songs will actually be loud… they’ll likely seem to be even louder than they actually are by coming after sections of the songs which are intentionally very low in volume. I guess you could say it’s a form of tension and release.

You’ve been active since 2012, releasing 3 songs, including the bummer-titled (to the work-bound masses), but sweetly spacey “Sunday Is Monday At Midnight”.  Do any or all of those songs appear on your forthcoming album?

John: None of those three are actually on the record. Sorry!

No worries!  OK, I hope this question isn’t too philosophically heavy or weird, but one of those aforementioned songs, “Fukitol”, contains the signature lyrics “Stars they must die / like beauty of flowers”, which ties so neatly to your band name.  Your sound, however, seems to be focused on trapping time in amber by the drawn out pacing, sustained synths, and extended vocals.  Are you intentionally trying to slow down the inexorable march of time via your songs – at least for that moment of playback?

Kim: That’s a very interesting observation. No, I don’t think we’re intentionally doing that through our music. But now that you mention it… I think we are trying to do that in our lives. So that may be coming through in our music unintentionally. The slowness of our music is really more just what we’re feeling right now.

That song is really about loss. And coming to terms with death. So I guess it is a little about wanting time to slow down… But the universe is just doing what it’s doing and some things like the spinning of time you just don’t have any control over. So fukitol!

Lastly, can you please list your official site?!