Interview with Lilies On Mars


Hello Marina and Lisa!  I think you’re on tour with Fanfarlo in the U.K. and Europe at the moment.  How is it all going?

Marina: Hello Jen – Yes we are currently in Berlin, a town we really love, tonight we are playing at Bi Nuu and we are very looking forward to it, it’s always so exciting to play abroad and see the different reaction from people. It’s going great!

You’ve recently released your 3rd album, Dot To Dot, on Saint Marie Records.  What is the meaning behind the album’s title?  Does the name have anything to do with Morse Code or is my guess a little too wild?

Lisa: It’s always interesting to hear an external opinion on our work!  Dot To Dot is the name of a game in which you have got to connect dots with a line that in the end will create an image. Song after song, note after note, sound after sound you get a picture of our imagination when we play music, and our music itself!

You describe your electo-dream-pop music as both futuristic and retro.  What makes your songs ahead of the curve and also vintage?  Is it based on the types of instruments you use or the production process?

Marina: We are certainly inspired by two different worlds, with an eye looking ahead and one in the past. We have got a passion for vintage organs and that is probably the reason why our songs  have a retro hint.  We experiment a lot with all the instruments that we have and we go crazy in post production adding effects that we like, mainly space echo and reverb. We try to make the recordings sound warm as much as we can with our equipment. I guess our sound and our songwriting is not very standard and definitely not mainstream. When I think about our songs I see them as if they have taken very different and specific shapes, some are rounded and others are more spiky. They are very visual to me, maybe because they were written in a very inspiring time for us. The whole writing and recording process felt like we were living in a parallel world, probably because we needed to escape the actual reality of that time, that unfortunately wasn’t exactly glorious. I guess the combination of these feelings must have definitely contributed shaping the futuristic sound on our album.

You dropped your 1st single, “Dream of Bees”, it’s a lovely introduction to your album, full of pure dream-pop beauty and graced with extended, airy vocals and touches of woodwinds.  I’m not sure how you split your duties as a duo – Who sings and who plays what instruments?

Lisa: We both can play the same instruments and we don’t have specific roles in the band. It really depends on the song.  On Dream Of Bees, I sing most of the songs and play electric guitar and the synth, while Marina plays baritone guitar, organs and does the backing vocals.

The single can be found on the Dream of Bees EP which also includes 2 remixes of the song.  How do you decide on who remixes your tunes?

Lisa: We loved the idea to see how other musicians see our music from their perspective. It’s so exciting. We have to thanks our friend Ryan L. Abato who introduced us to the amazing Julia Kent and Silver Swans.

Valentina of Fanfarlo plays drums on “Dream of Bees”.  How did your association with that band come about?

Marina: We met Valentina years ago in London, she is an amazing drummer, it’s always a joy to play music with her. She is an incredible musician and has a really vast music knowledge. We also have another project with her called Ueberweg, along with another very talented friend Silvia Fioretti, we do radical improvisations. Last year she started playing with Fanfarlo and I guess she talked to them about us.  They really liked our music and now we are touring together, it’s amazing!

Lilies On Mars - Dot To Dot

Lilies On Mars – Dot To Dot

How would you compare Dot To Dot to your 2 previous albums?  Do they share any conceptual or sonic similarities?

Marina: They are very different but connected somehow. The sound of Dot To Dot is definitely what we were looking for since the very beginning of Lilies on Mars. The first two albums helped us realizing what we wanted and how to get it. It was a natural evolution.

You’re based in both the metropolis of London and the island of Sardina – quite a contrast of locations, it seems!  How does this geographical contrast affect the creation of your music?

Marina: We started writing and recording Dot To Dot in London. Then something rather drastic happened. Our home/studio got sold and this put us in a very difficult situation. We had to make a decision very quickly and it was the most crazy time to find a new place in London because of the Olympic games. So we decided to go back to Sardinia and set up a studio at Lisa’s old beach house. It ended up being the best thing to do, the new environment brought so much more to the records.

Your tunes contain dreamy and hypnotic looping rhythms, beats, and echoed sounds.  How do you achieve this amorphous atmosphere?  Is it all generated by synths or are other instruments or production effects involved?

Lisa: It’s a combination of pure sounds recorded through a valve amp and the sounds that we manipulate in post production, we also recorded the traffic of London and the sound of the sea, we tried to record the vibes of the towns surrounding us.

On some songs your vocals are slightly distorted so that they have a wavering vibe.  How do you get that type of effect?

Lisa: We love playing with effects, it’s probably very obvious, as you said, distortion, vocoder, space echo, are an interesting mix to get that type of effect!

On certain songs like “Martians”, there is a brief, but noticeable, break in the sonics where all is quiet for a short bit.  Why do you include these calmer lulls in your songs?

Lisa: It’s exactly what we feel. There are moments of calm that we need to achieve in our daily routine, we play what we experience, that’s all.

The imagery and ideas tied to your band name are very interesting.  Who thought up ‘Lilies On Mars’ and how does your music reflect its meaning? 

Lisa:  Marina calls me Lili. “Lili on Mars” was previously a song we have never recorded. Somehow this name stayed in our heads and very naturally it transformed to Lilies on Mars. We thought about this type of delicate flower in a mysterious unexplored planet. It’s very close to our imagination, we are constantly searching for new sounds and for new entities in music with a touch of mystery and waiting to get surprised.

You have an intriguing new video for “Dream of Bees”.  Who is searching for what in this video?  I have a feeling that maybe London and Sardinia locales come into play…

The video was shot in Cagliari, in Sardinia. The main character is tired of her environment and her condition, she is half human and half robot. During the video she goes through a path that frees her from this reality and reaches a new essence, a new life.. It’s definitely a metaphor of what happened to us!

Lastly, can you please list your official site(s) where we can find out more about you and your music?