Indie/folk artist and New York native Lila Blue talks beginnings in music and latest album ‘Leave Me Be’

Photo by Emily Sevin

A New York native’s newest indie/folk album explores her own relationships through a balance of raw emotions and kaleidoscopic imagery.

20-year-old Lila Blue was raised in New York until she was around 12-13 years old, when her family moved to northern California. Blue has since made her way back to the east coast to attend Sarah Lawrence University. 

However, it was during her childhood that Blue began to forge her own path into music. 

“When I was six, I started writing poetry intensely and religiously,” Blue recalled. “I sort of slid into music through my love of words.”

Blue picked up the ukulele (“Because my hands were too small for a guitar,” says Blue) and was writing songs by the time she was 8 years old. Blue then began doing professional theater at the 11 and eventually became a solo folk musician at 14. She has since released a couple of albums and an EP online of songs written from her younger days as a musician.

It was a great medium at the time and still is for me, especially to conduct a range of emotions that I tend to contain,” said Blue. “It helped a lot through adolescence. I don’t think I ever claimed it – side of my life that became my life.”

Blue’s newest album “Leave Me Be” was released on April 24 online. The album, according to Blue, was created when she was 18 and during a time when she was going through the loss of her grandmother as well as a rough break-up. Blue also found herself wanted to expand her music beyond what she had already created with her prior EPs.

“I wanted ‘Leave Me Be’ to be more lush while exploring my own relationship with music in my life as well as the solitude that it usually brings,” said Blue. “Dealing with the grief of losing two people really played into how things turned out.”

The album weaves together orchestral music with gutting vocal chops and dramatic, percussive arrangements. The album also features interludes of raw sound between the songs, including breaking glass, people screaming and a voicemail left by Blue’s ex.

“My grandmother was an interviewer, and I found a tape of her talking with Robert F. Kennedy and sliced it in,” said Blue. “At 18, I felt that I needed to figure out how to transition out of sad child folk girl into a vessel that can hold the rage and mess that I’ve become.”

When asked about what tracks stood out to her the most on “Leave Me Be,” a couple came to mind for Blue: “toesteethtongue,” which is the first song that Blue wrote that dives into the queer dynamics of her life, and “Youth is Like a Loose Tooth,” which Blue wrote when she was 14, is a song where Blue shows themes around possession of self and allowing herself to show who she am with others, but ultimately it’s her’s to keep.

Another song on the album that holds a special place for Blue is “Chopping Block,” which is the last song on the album. According to Blue, the song details what it is like to be a child performer. The tune was written in the studio and her team questioned whether or not this song, given its darker tone, would be best to end the album on.

“This is the first song where I didn’t care how people responded to it,” said Blue. “It inverts the lushness of the album. We wanted the album to be ironically lush, but I wanted to add a sardonic smirk to it. The album is performative, no matter how hard I try to make it not, but this song adds the concept of palatability as an artist. Emotions in music are good, but what good is it if it isn’t palatable?”

Given the pandemic, it’s hard to pinpoint what exactly is next on the horizon for Blue, however she would like to explore new genres of music on future albums. 

“I’ve been so drawn to the bluegrass/Americana/blues realm, I’d like to explore that on a new album,” said Blue. “Someday I’d like to compose theater, too. There are a few opportunities on the horizon, and I’d just like to see if I can go back to school in the fall.” 

You can find Blue’s music at lilabluemusic.com or at lilablue.bandcamp.com. Blue has merchandise available on her website, the proceeds of which is going to support the Black Lives Matter movement.