"I want to be remembered for my story telling, my authenticity and my voice" - We speak with South London's finest, Lily McKenzie

House | Wednesday 24th June 2020 | Arren

Lockdown life to music, we catch up with one of South London’s rising stars Lily McKenzie.

Music has always been an integral part of Lily McKenzie’s life, and these days that passion has propelled her into the limelight. Since the age of 15 she’s been writing her own tunes, she’s exceptional on the piano and her vocals have featured on many tracks across the dance music scene, including heavyweight staples Stanton Warriors, Crazy Cousinz and SpectraSoul.

Along with working with legends, she’s also been firing out her own material and is in the midst of a quality run of releases with Ultra Music. She flaunts her stylish voice over a range of dance sounds, wrapping up her musical influences and tastes into sick electronic pop.

Her latest hit to land was the smooth beat 'Karma'. Her voice takes centre stage with a lush tropical beat providing the backdrop. She effortlessly flows across the beat, and completes what is a sure fire hit for this summer. It’s just the latest track, following the other massive tunes 'Bad For Your' and 'Over My Ex'. She’s definitely rapidly climbing the ranks and I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more from Lily McKenzie in the coming months and years.

We are lucky to have caught her for a quick catch up to find out more about the crazy musical world of Lily McKenzie…

Hey hope you’re good! What was your first thought this morning?
Can I get away with snoozing my alarm a few more times.

Yeah, we feel you!! What’s got you motivated right now?
Exercising. I’ve been doing loads of online work outs which have made me feel so much more motivated and energised!

How has your experience of lockdown been?
I’ve been able to be quite productive which has been surprising. Sometimes I’ve dipped and had no inspiration or motivation but I think that’s just normal. I’ve made a really big effort to check in with friends - it’s important to stay connected during these times.

What could you have not survived lockdown without?
Tea! I drink so much tea, I love it so much and I’ve definitely increased my daily cuppa’s. I’m on about 7 a day!!!

What is something you miss most from pre-Covid times?
I miss clubs and live music venues. I can’t wait to be performing again and hearing music outside of the house!

What’s the first thing you want to do when restrictions are lifted?
Go to a pub with all of my friends - a nice beer garden!

Do you see things changing for good after or do you imagine things will just go back to the way they were before?
Hopefully we’re all a little nicer to each other after this pandemic. It’s been quite a tough time for a lot of people and hopefully it will show us to be more grateful for the things we have, and to be kind. I also hope it’s shown us that we need to look after our planet a lot more and to support local businesses.

Let’s talk about your music. You have been steadily heading further and further up, and have worked with so many great artists; Stanton Warriors, The Prototypes, Crazy Cousinz to name a few. You’ve also recently been dropping your own material with Ultra with some wicked tunes such as , 'Over My Ex' and 'Emotions'. When did you first decide to take steps into the music world?
I’ve always loved music, I started writing poetry when I was a child. I started singing grime when I was 14 locally and I guess that’s where I found my passion.

What is one of your favourite projects that you’ve featured on/worked on over the years?
There are so many projects I’ve loved working on but 'No Way' which I did with Crazy Cousinz, Yxng Bane and Mr Eazi was a really fun one for me. It was amazing to work with such talented artists and to watch as the song changed from a little idea to a song we all really loved and were proud of.

When did you decide to move into solo work, and what do you want people to know the name Lily McKenzie for?
I decided to work on my solo project a couple of years ago. I felt ready to take everything I had learnt from my collaborations and to work on my own message. I want to be remembered for my story telling, my authenticity and my voice.

What kind of music were you/did you surround yourself with when you were younger?
I loved 90’s R&B, artists like Destiny’s Child, Aaliyah, Jagged Edge and Nivea. I also loved the Spice Girls when I was really little – obviously I was Sporty Spice!

Looking through your back catalogue it seems you’re definitely a little bit of a raver, what kinds of parties/events did you start going to when you started clubbing?
I love all music and can probably party to most genres but I definitely spent a lot of time at UK Funky events, which has definitely inspired my sound 100%.

Say your musical style is a cocktail and music genres are the spirits and mixers, what makes the Lily McKenzie? Also is it on 2-4-1?
It’s not on 2-4-1! ha.... I’d say a shot of RnB, a shot of UK electronic pop and a dash of female attitude.

You have mentioned in previous interviews that your songwriting comes from your life experiences at the time, with your latest track 'Karma', what influenced you to create this track?
I wrote 'Karma' a couple of years ago, inspired by a situation I was in with someone I thought I could trust. I find it hard to talk about how I’m feeling sometimes, but when I write about it, it seems to just flow out - kind of like therapy.

This year you’ve had a bout of great music, is there more Lily McKenzie magic in the pipeline for this year?
Yes, I’ve been writing lots of new music so you can definitely expect lots more from me this year.

When you’re not writing massive hits or working alongside the great in the music, what do you like to do?
I like hanging out with my friends or going to live gigs and festivals. I love to dance and to hear what other musicians and artists are doing.

We heard you’re into yoga, how long have you been interested in this?
I’ve loved yoga from a young age as it was always around me as a child. I think over the past few years I’ve realised the benefits for your mental health as opposed to just your physical health. It really helps me to relax and focus more so it’s definitely become a really important part of my life.

If you weren’t involved in the music biz what do you see yourself doing as a job?
I’d be a lawyer, I actually always wanted to be a lawyer and got into law school but I felt like I couldn’t do both and music was more my passion – weirdly I’m really into looking into contracts - ha!

What would you do to change the world?
There’s so much I would want to do to change the world if I could. But it feels like during these strange times, people are really waking up to injustices – how we are treating people and how we are treating this planet. I think we need to educate ourselves and individually do what we can to make a change and, although things seem crazy at the moment, I hope we will be able to grow from it all. It all starts within.

What are you most in love with right now?
Houmous! ha!

If you could perform anywhere in the world, where would that be?
I would love to perform at Brixton Academy – it’s my favourite venue and it’s in South London where I’m from so it would be extra special for me.

What’s the biggest lesson in life you’ve learned?
To trust in your timing. As long as your intentions are good and you do your best, what will be will be. You have to trust that everything happens in the right time.

Lily McKenzie’s latest track 'Karma' is out now on Ultra Music - Buy/stream

Lily McKenzie
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