Lily Moore – Interview 2018

Being the daughter of a legendary musician usually has it upsides. Doors can unexpectedly swing open, interest can be piqued. However, as well as those who rode off the coattails of a famous parent, there are countless examples of children of rock offspring who have achieved success in their own right, right back to early rock’n’roll. Joe and Sam Brown, Hank and Hank Junior Williams, Tim and Jeff Buckley, Martin and Eliza Carthy, Don and Neneh Cherry, Bob and Ziggy Marley, and Ravi Shankar and Norah Jones, to name but a few. However, it’s a path strewn with pitfalls, and unfair nepotism. Why the hell would you want to do what your parents did? Wouldn’t you rather forge your own path?

Well, Lily Moore can hardly be said to be following in the footsteps of her father, Gary Moore, a highly regarded musician who played blues-rock guitar, and had some big hits along the way, including ‘Parisienne Walkways’, and ‘Out in the Field’, with both fellow Irishman, and Thin Lizzy member Phil Lynott on vocals. “He definitely influenced me,” say Lily Moore, now 20, and the youngest of five children. “He gave me a really good taste in music. He played me a lot of soul, jazz and blues music. He’d play it to me on the school runs. He would show me Freddie King and Albert King, and B.B. King. That was what I was played going to school. I can thank him for that, definitely.”

She can also possibly thank him for the emotional literacy that comes out of her. Not through the guitar, which was her father’s instrument of choice (and which she only has a rudimentary knowledge), but through her voice and words. It’s a fantastically mature and sophisticated voice, with a slight husk to it, that has seen her turn many heads in her short career so far. Allied to a deeply resonating lyricism, a magnetic stage persona, and a unique neo-soul sound, Lily has been making a big mark. She is, on her own steam, a very special talent with a bright future ahead of her.

Her debut EP, Not That Special, was released earlier this year, with help from Arctic Monkeys producer Jim Abbiss, and co-writer Eg White. One of the tracks, ’17’, was track of the week on BBC Radio 1, with artists such as Elton John giving it the thumbs up. This was followed by a packed show at The Great Escape, and supporting the likes of George Ezra, James Bay and Tom Greenan. She’s just released a new single, ‘Do It For Me’, part of an EP of the same name. In support of that she’ll be taking off on her first headline tour, including a date in the city she grew up in, Brighton. “’Do This For Me’ is a song about wanting to be able to say something to someone but not feeling brave enough to do so. No matter how many times I’ve performed this song it always seems to get me when I’m on stage,” she says. The stage, it seems, is where she belongs. “I love it. You can be a diva on stage, take the mic out and talk to everyone for as long as you like. That’s what I look forward to. I’m definitely a live singer, as opposed to a studio singer. It’s lucky I enjoy it!”

She started to find her singing voice from a very early age, singing all the time, and soaking up all the influences around her, including the aforementioned blues artists, as well as the likes of Sam Cooke, Lauryn Hill, Adele, and Amy Winehouse. “I’ve always sung. I’ve never not. It’s always been a massive part of my life. I’ve always written songs. My mum says I’ve always sang. Constantly. I never really had lessons. If you sing constantly you end up finding how to sing, and finding what sort of way you want to sing. She said when I was little she would put me in the bath, and she would only get worried if I stopped singing.”

Brighton, and its vibrant musical landscape, gave her the impetus to go out and perform, first as busker, then at the many open mics and small venues that litter Brighton. “That’s where I found my feet,” she says. “I think you need to do it. It’s a really safe place to experiment, and try songs out. No one is going to watch you for too long. Brighton is great like that, you can experiment, and you can try and find your sound. There isn’t the industry pressure of London,” where she moved to just last year. “I started my own music night up, More Moore at Mau Mau, in Notting Hill (guests have included the likes of Etham, Sam Johnson, Jack Vallier, Tom Grennan and Will Heard). I was missing the open mic scene, where you could just play a gig, and it felt safe, and was fun. That is me trying to bring a little bit of Brighton to Notting Hill.

“I also used to be in a thing called Jam Brighton. Gordon (Russell, ex Dr Feelgood guitarist) was my guitar teacher. I think he is probably a massive, massive reason why I do music. My mum got his number off someone. ‘She’s busking! I don’t know what to do with her. She sings all the time, she writes all these songs, but I don’t really know where she can do it’. I was too young to play pubs and stuff like that. Most kids in Brighton who do music, they’ve had guitar lessons with Gordon. I went to see him, and he really helped me out. He got me to do a gig, Sounds of the City, which was at the Dome, for under-18 year olds. I did that, and out of that I got to play The Great Escape, which is how I met my managers, and how I started doing songwriting sessions. Gordon is brilliant.”

Behind the scenes there is a careful nurturing of this talent. Whilst enjoying some big support slots and tours with the with likes of George Ezra, James Bay and Tom Grennan, thoughts have been turning towards an album. However, she’s not rushing into it. It has to come from the heart, she says. Her songs need to be personal and full of meaning. “I’ve written enough songs over the past couple of years, I could put out an album. There’s enough work I am proud of. But, it wouldn’t be perfect. I want my first album to be absolutely perfect. But, I don’t feel like I’m there. I’m only 20. I’m taking it as it comes, and waiting.

“It has to be something I care about. I have to go into a session knowing that I have something to say, otherwise it’s just a bit embarrassing. I think it’s also important to not write too much as well, otherwise you just end up writing stuff you don’t really care about. Every time I sing, it reminds me of exactly when I wrote the song, what was going on, or who I was with at the time. It’s like a calendar. I think it’s important to write about the stuff I might be a bit scared about maybe saying.”

Her profile has risen further thanks to Love Island, currently one the most popular TV shows on British television, and a staple of the tabloid and celebrity press. Her beautifully conceived and delivered ‘Lying to Yourself’ was featured, much to her surprise. “That was hilarious. My managers obviously knew about it, and I didn’t, and they said, ‘Make sure you watch Love Island‘. As a 20-year-old you have to watch it, whether you want to or not. But I missed loads of it because I was on tour. You can’t watch it abroad. Nightmare! But when I was back home they said, ‘Please can you watch Love Island tonight. I thought it was because they were like ‘don’t go out. Be sensible’. And whatever time it came on, on the dot my phone went mental. For everyone my age, that was the best thing I could ever do. I had to show my family. It was my first ever sync on TV. I made my nan watch it. Hopefully, she still likes me.”

It’s a fantastic song on a rather crass TV show. There’s nothing vacuous about Lily Moore. Rather a blossoming talent, full of emotional intelligence, with a voice and songs that speak to us all.

Jeff Hemmings