Our WorldArts Spotlight Artist of the month is Spritely! Formed at USC by frontwoman Jillian Lavin, Spritely finds inspiration from multiple genres to give them a unique & evolved sound. Check out our exclusive Q&A with Jillian to hear about the band’s origin, their upcoming tracks, and why you should book your next trip through Ariana Grande!
1) You describe Spritely as your “favorite high school emo music all grown up”. What influences do you draw on when you create music?
My music at its core is a combination of the musical theatre and emo music I listened to as a kid, but softened by the indie rock of my teenage years and refined by the classic pop I’ve studied in recent years. They all contribute something fundamental; musical theatre lends its drama, emo adds the angst, indie rock informs the instrumentation and pop shows itself in the melodies.
2) Tell us about the band’s formation while you were at USC?
We formed out of the Popular Music program after I wrote a song (“Disposable”) that demanded a full band arrangement. I didn’t know many people because I was a scared hermit of a freshman, but I knew everyone was crazy talented, so I just went up to a few classmates and asked if they wanted to play. The crew has evolved over the years, but Kiko (drummer) has been around since day one!
3) What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?
In this industry everyone has big dreams yet knows that they’ll probably never ‘make it’. The best piece of advice I’ve gotten is a mixture of these opposites: (a) don’t expect much, and don’t be hard on yourself when you fail. Because you will. Nevertheless, (b) be fearless with your art. That is the only way you’ll ever blossom into the beautifully odd little creature you are inside—and whether or not other people are into it is on them.
4) If you could go on tour with any artist (past or present) who would it be?
Death Cab For Cutie, hundred percent. Bless you Ben Gibbard. (But maybe Ariana Grande too, just cause her music is so damn fun and her voice is like butter. Plus, we’d get to sleep in nicer hotels).
5) What’s your ‘go-to’ karaoke song?
Ooh! Great question. It depends, if I’m doing it for my own enjoyment then maybe “The Voice Within” by Christina Aguilera. It’s my go-to vocal ballad. But if I’m just trying to have fun and put on a big show, then probably something classic and cheesy like “Don’t Stop Believing” or “Bohemian Rhapsody” that will let me kick over a mic stand.
6) WorldArts is all about giving tools and opportunities to artists. What advice would you give to aspiring musicians?
Dive in. Immerse yourself. Get better. Go to school. Learn music theory and aural skills—it’s essential. Don’t be hard on yourself for taking a mental health day. Get rid of the concept of ‘making it’. Follow your spirit. Take emotional risks. Contemplate the meaning of life. Strive to be inspired and fulfilled.
7) If you could change anything about the music industry, what would it be?
Streaming is killing us. People are listening to more music than ever, and musicians are making less money than ever. I don’t think we should go back to CDs and digital sales, but we’ve got to find a new economic model that will keep this industry alive.
8) What is the best way you’ve found to market yourself as an artist?
This is my weakest link for sure—I’ve spent years being very reclusive and shy about the things I express beyond music, but lately I’ve been trying to let my freak flag fly. Last week I handmade a stage costume out of long shreds of brightly colored and sparkly fabric, all hanging from a belt like drips of watercolor on canvas. It’s extremely weird but I think it’s beautiful and I’m going to wear it on stage from now on. Boom.
9) Tell us about your new tracks you did with Matias Mora?
“I Shouldn’t Need” is an indie acoustic lullaby addressing God/higher-power-of-choice regarding a broken heart. It wrestles with faith, happiness and blame while trying to understand: how did I get here? Did I do something wrong, or did you?
“A Little Bit Broken” is an in-the-moment, explosive, cathartic, almost delirious heartbreak song. It accepts the generic, universal nature of loneliness while also expressing how utterly life-shattering it feels in the moment.
“Miles” was written as a plea to a friend with major depression. It paints the macabre picture of a human who had completely shut down and could not see the abounding goodness and support that surrounded her. The experience that inspired this changed me forever, and I hope that listeners can pick up on the weight of it, too.
Working with Matias on all of these was an absolute joy. Each song had been pre-arranged by the band for live shows, but Matias deconstructed and rebuilt each song from scratch in order to perfect every last detail. I learned so much about arranging and producing by working with him—it was an incredible experience.
10) What next on the horizon for you (shows/new tracks/in the studio etc.)?
We’re currently wrapping up production on a single for early 2017 (“Lively”) and starting production on another one (“Call To Action”). Plus we’ve got some music video plans in the works, so keep an eye out!