“Can you come fuck me right now?” sings Lilyisthatyou on the chorus of her hit song “FMRN” which amassed over a million views in 24 hours before it was promptly removed by TikTok for “violating community guidelines”. The explicit lyrics and virality are not the characteristics of a one-hit-wonder but rather the personality of a star in the making who’s filling a much-needed gap for brutally honest Gen Z pop stars. Lily tells me she intuitively knew something had changed the night her TikTok went viral and she wasn’t wrong. Since then she’s signed with Warner Records US and released more avant-garde songs like “Purity” and her most recent being “Moderation”. Despite the R-rated subject matter her songs explore, the sound is always upbeat fusing pop with dance beats and the headstrong spirit of punk.
In today’s world, the words female empowerment can often sound like a gimmick peddled by corporate marketing teams in an effort to remain relevant and avoid the wrath of cancel culture. But speaking to Lily it’s obvious nothing she says is censored or scripted, it’s simply her. Her song “Purity” tackles the longstanding belief that for women, purity and virginity should go hand in hand. She brazenly reminds listeners the words of others don’t define you and there’s no shame in owning your sexuality. Over 33 million streams of “FMRN” later, it’s safe to say Lily’s tell-all vulnerability resonates with her audience—impressionable young girls in need of more authentic role models. “I wish that at 15 I had [a] song like “Purity,” I would probably not be in therapy right now,” Lily says to me before laughing and that sentiment has stuck with me since. It’s not until you reach adulthood and start to grow up that you can begin to unpack how the pop culture of your generation has deeply affected your beliefs about physical appearance, sex, relationships, and so on.
March 8th is International Women’s Day and Lilyisthatyou is the perfect artist to shine a spotlight on spilling truths about confidence, originality, and vulnerability. Below we chat about her Harley Quinn-inspired music video for “Purity”, which Euphoria character she would be, and why she believes the saying everything in “Moderation.”
Why did you choose the name “lilyisthatyou”?
Recently I’ve come into the name a lot more, at first I didn’t like it but now I’m seeing it as a way to play a bunch of different characters in my artistry. With [my song] “Purity” I was the bad bitch cheerleader, I wanna do a goth one, I wanna do one where I’m a Formula 1 race car driver and I want to encourage my audience to be whoever they want and play a million different characters in their own life. As I make more videos and music I hope people are watching the videos and are like oh my gosh lilyisthatyou?
What do you want listeners to take away from your song “Purity” and implement in their own life?
Definitely, that purity does not equal the words of others. Purity is something we need to embody and we decide what that means to us, it doesn’t really matter if I’ve been gangbanged (I’m not saying I have I’m not saying I haven’t) I don’t think that means I’m less of a pure person. I want listeners to take away the idea that purity and sex have nothing to do with each other. Purity is about kindness, the energy you bring into rooms, and the way you interact with people you love and people you hate.
I love the music video for “Purity” it reminds me of ‘Jennifer’s Body’ and ‘Bring It On’. What inspired the visuals?
The day we made [Purity] we were talking about cheerleaders so for me it was a given it [had] to happen but I really like the change of pace halfway throughout the video when it gets a bit darker and we all came out of the showers. Obviously like every other human on earth—love Euphoria, I was really inspired by the elements of Euphoria my brain was like [this] moody, sexy, element to cheer and it’s not preppy it’s more like we are so hot and we’re gonna kill you. I also love female villains—Harley Quinn stuff like that—so I wanted to portray myself not as the enemy but the enemy of this concept of purity with a baseball bat and a rip of chaos under my face.
What is your creative process in the studio?
It’s different every day because I always work with someone new. Recently, I’ve been working with people who like to start with the chorus. That’s not really my thing but I’ve been working that way because it’s more comfortable for the other writers. I have such strong opinions, I always know exactly what I want to say [and] I always know who I am in sessions. I like to adapt to others because I have a strong sense of self and I know their way of doing it isn’t going to change how it comes off as me.
In terms of the concepts, it’s usually my idea. I have a long notes list on my phone of a million different ideas for songs but sometimes I make it up on the day. I made a song this week called “Rest In Paradise,” I can take something really simple and turn it into this whole story. That’s my process—one word or a couple of words inspiring me and then trying to create a story or a world around that. Like the “Rest In Paradise” one is definitely a Formula 1 driver who crashes her car.
How has life changed since signing with Warner?
I’m in LA so that’s a big thing! Signing with Warner has given me the freedom to just be the artist I don’t need to worry about the marketing or all this other shit that I may have before. It’s taken a lot of pressure off the everyday things because I have a team, I’m not responsible to do everything I feel like I can finally just be the artist and that’s really special to me.
You’re very open on social media about sex and life in general. How has the response been from your followers? Any messages stood out to you in particular?
Honestly, the most gratifying part of this whole experience—since “FMRN”—has been the messages from girls every day being like you have changed my perspective on myself, or hey my mom keeps calling me a whore and your music is what’s getting me through it. I’ve gotten an overwhelming amount of young women reaching out to me telling me that my confidence [and] my openness about sex has made a change for them. I wish that at 15 I had [a] song like “Purity” I would probably not be in therapy right now [laughs]. Sometimes it’s difficult to put myself out there and be vulnerable but at the end of the day it’s doing so much for others and we need more brutally honest role models. We need to change this idea that sex for women is this taboo thing we need to embrace our pleasure and desire and if I can [play] any part in any young women’s life to [help her] understand herself that’s the goal.
Your song “FMRN” went viral on TikTok and was also controversial because it was taken down. What is your relationship with social media like?
Instagram, love her, I’ve had Instagram since I was 11 or 12 so Instagram feels very natural to me like an extension of myself. Like everyone else, I scroll through Instagram and I don’t feel the best. I struggle with comparison so much and the competition of social media is exhausting but [on] Instagram I feel safe. Tiktok; I’m still navigating who I am on there. I really see it as a challenge because I know I can’t go viral on Instagram and I’ve experienced firsthand the way that TikTok has changed my life. I see TikTok as a puzzle, I love it but it’s difficult because I know the content I’m pushing goes against community guidelines like I’m swearing in all my songs, my songs are about drugs, sex, [and] masturbation. I have to be creative to work around [the guidelines] and build trends around the songs but I don’t want to change who I am and my writing to suit the nature of [TikTok].
Have you ever had doubts about being vulnerable in your music or on social media? How did you overcome that?
I’m still working on it. Something that has really helped me is I do these real skin check things [on Instagram] where I’ll start my day and post a selfie with no filter. I have really bad hormonal acne and I’m good at makeup so I can work around it but sometimes it looks like shit. Doing the real skin checks on Instagram and having so many people hit me back and be like this is so good, I needed this, helps me overcome the pain of being vulnerable. Pushing myself and pushing my limits of what vulnerability means I always get something in return from [my] audience that reminds me why I’m doing it and I have this belief about being an artist that you have to suffer sometimes so that your fans can grow, heal and learn more about themselves. It’s not about me being this perfect person, it’s about reminding you that nobody will ever be.
What has been the most memorable experience in the last year?
Probably the one show that I did, having a thousand drunk university kids screaming “FMRN” back to me was so special. It was at Bishop’s in Quebec but also the most memorable experience for me was the night that [my TikTok] video was going. The first night that I posted it and it was only at 27,000 views I was drunk with my boyfriend Caleb and I just knew that something had changed and my life was going to be different. I remember crying so much being like I don’t know if I’m ready, I don’t know if I can do this and that’s a memorable moment for me doubting myself and then the next day waking up and every day since then knowing that I am ready and I can do this.
Your song “moderation” was recently released, tell me how the song came together and the message about addiction behind it?
The song came together because we were doing a lot of meetings. It was my first time in LA and I was getting drunk at lunch. My manager Marvin, love him, would be like look everything in moderation and I was like fuck you, this is my life I’m living the dream and my mom would always say everything in moderation to me growing up. The next day, we (Lily, Madi Yanofsky, and Evan Blair) wanted that concept of making a song about moderation. It was a conversation about what was rock bottom for me and how can we portray this [in a way] that still feels fun. I don’t want to glamorize drugs and alcohol but I also don’t want to glamorize sobriety. Both are really hard and I’ve been in a position where I’m way too extreme with substances and I’ve also been in a position where I’ve felt so lonely in my sobriety. The lesson everything in moderation is definitely the one I want to give to my fans. It’s not that you should never drink and never try drugs but don’t make that who you are, don’t let drugs [or] your impulses control you because life isn’t about that. Life isn’t about the high and it’s not about the low it’s this balance of everything and finding a way to embrace both and that’s where I’m at now, I’m not sober but I don’t do drugs like crazy I’m in control and my impulses are not winning.
What do you love about yourself that you hope inspires and gives guidance to others?
I love my confidence. I don’t know where it comes from and I would love for my audience to take away [the] confidence to express yourself. It’s the things that are unique about you that are special. It’s not the ways you fit in that will make people love you—it’s the ways you are different. It’s taken me a long time to embrace those parts of myself and I’ve tried to understand them rather than shove them away and do what everyone else is doing. I truly hope my audience sees me being unapologetically myself and still being loved it’s the things that make me different that are why I’m here.
If you were a character in Euphoria which one would you be and why?
I would definitely choose Jules because everybody makes mistakes, a lot of my life has been making mistakes and hoping for forgiveness from the people that love me. [Jules’] style I resonate the most with, sometimes it’s masculine and sometimes it’s feminine like today I’m wearing a suit and tie and other days I’m wearing a floral printed dress. I also really connect with the way sex has fucked her up, we see in season 1 and season  that validation from sex and older men is a part of her healing. I connect with some of her experiences in a way that’s different because I’m not a trans woman so I can’t speak on her there but I definitely feel like she has issues that resonate with me a lot.
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