Check out our interview with folk-turned-EDM extraordinaire artist Lilly Ahlberg who just released her new single “Cold.” The single is out on the UK label Tileyard Music Group – Destructivo sub-label.
Lilly started out as an indie/folk vocalist with tracks like Moonlight but jumped in to the dance space after she was picked up by Sonny Fodera, they collaborated on the tracks The Moment and Closer. Since then, Lilly has progressed with every release all while remaining true to her roots by incorporating a folk feel in to her dance music performances.
Follow Lilly @lillyahlberg
Hi Lilly, please tell us a little about you?
Hello! Well, I’m half Swedish half English and I’ve lived in London for almost 7 years now. Growing up my family and I moved around a lot. I was born in Italy, and I lived in the UK, Sweden, Norway & Australia. I am currently 27 years old but I feel more like a mix between a 6 year old and a 80 year old with my up and down energy levels. I love music (obviously), art, fashion, summer time, fitness and food. I’m very intuitive, empathetic and a bit spiritual which makes me a person who feeds of the energy around me (which is why I hate negative vibes because I get sucked into it). Aaaand I’m a massive over thinker, and a bit of a weirdo. That sums me up I think!
Describe yourself in 3 words?
Creative, spaced out & kind
How did you get started in the business?
My brother taught me how to play ‘Fast Car’ by Tracy Chapman when was 14. He’d tried to teach me before but nothing grabbed my attention until that song. I remember staying up all night practicing and learning how to sing a the same time as playing it. After that I couldn’t stop, I’d learn song after song and would post what I’d learnt on YouTube. The YouTube channel grew and from there I started getting ‘’music industry people’’ interested. At one point I was about to sign to Universal in Stockholm, but that fell through, and at another point I had two A&R’s from Atlantic New York who visited me in my hometown. I always knew I wanted to be based in London though, so when a manager based in London reached out, we started working together and I eventually moved to the UK when I was 20.
How has this changed your life?
I’m not sure because I fell into the music business really early on. I never went to university because I was sure that music was for me and what I was doing was working. I have no idea what my life would look like if I didn’t do music or how my life has changed because of it.
Describe your sound in 3 words?
Emotional, deep, melodic
Who influenced you and why did you choose to make music?
My brother influenced me into playing guitar. And if I think about it maybe it was my love for Tracy Chapman and her song Fast Car that made me take the first step. When I was learning that song I just fell in love with it, it felt right and it also came quite naturally to me. I’d always loved singing on Singstar when I was little but I never really saw it as a career, and I used to think ‘how could anyone possibly dare to stand on a stage and sing?’, but here we are haha!
Do you play any instrument?
I play the guitar, it’s definitely my main instrument and I always feel like I singer better with a guitar in my hands. I also play a bit of piano and I know the theory behind it as I took a few lessons when I was younger, but I’m definitely not as confident with it as playing the guitar.
Do you ever get nervous?
YES! All the time. I used to have massive confidence issues, and I still do a bit but it’s much better. I used to have really, really bad acne growing up, and it was so bad that I would blush as soon as someone looked at me because I felt really self conscious. Standing up and doing a presentation in front on the class was a nightmare, I would get rashes all over my body. Somehow singing and performing on stage is easier, because I escape into the music, but I still have stage fright.
Tell us about your new single “Cold?”
‘Cold’ is the first track of a new ‘Lilly Ahlberg’, I’ve been struggling a lot with finding my sound through the years and going back and forth between dance music and singer/songwriter indie music and pop music. I feel like I’ve finally found a really good balance between all of those sounds and I love it.
What’s the story behind the song?
I always used to have walls up when it came to being vulnerable. I would have ‘situationships’ with guys but I would always keep a bit of a distance. I think it’s because moving on is wired into me from moving around so much when I was younger it made me used to getting friendly quickly with people, but also used to having to say goodbye and move on quickly. ‘Cold’ is basically me realising all of this, sometimes I would push people away without really knowing why. I think people could feel that I was a bit cold and not ready even if I didn’t realise it at the time. ‘I don’t wanna dive in just to crash into the dark’ might seem like a weird lyric, but for me it means that relationships are a dark area for me, it’s unknown, I’ve always kept my heart protected so I didn’t want to dive into the vulnerability and unknown face first.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
When I get messages or comments from people saying they love what I do. I’ve had a few people over the years tell me that my music has really helped them when they have been in a dark place and that makes me feel so fulfilled. Music has always been my comfort and it’s important to me that people can find comfort in my music too.
What book should every entrepreneur read?
‘You Are A Badass’ by Jen Sincero
What would say are the greatest lessons you learned so far?
- To focus on the NOW and stop worrying so much about‘ what if this happens?’
- Set goals but do things one step at a time, don’t focus to much on the end goal
- Recognize when you are having negative thoughts, and think of how those thoughts can be positive instead. For example I can have the thought ‘I am not good enough’ quite a lot, and I always try to recognize it, and think of why I am good enough and all the great things about me haha!
- A positive mindset, and having a high frequency will always bring you more good than walking around with a negative mindset
How would your best friend describe you?
My best friends gave me these hashtags (haha): #thoughtful #abitcrazy #creative #kind #fitasf*ck
If you are a book, what would be the title of the book and why?
‘The Girl Who Persisted’ maybe haha? There have been a lot of times where I’ve been on the edge of giving up on my career in music but I’ve kept being persistent and kept believing in myself. There have been a lot of rejections and times where I’ve had no money at all so I’ve had to find ways to keep going. A lot of shitty jobs on the side have had to be done to keep going with my music as I’ve always wanted music to be my main focus.
What’s next for Lilly Ahlberg in the last months of 2023?
More releases! We are currently deciding on what track to release next, there are a lot of good songs to pick from so it’s difficult! I’ve also got a few more vocal features coming up.
What is your favorite healthy food?
I love sushi and poke bowls! I also make a really nice chilli/chicken mince stew which is healthy and you can throw in loads of veggies.
And your favorite cheat food?
Truffle mac and cheese.. yum.
How would you explain your fashion style?
Scandi vibes, masculine, oversized, clean, minimal, comfy
What is your own definition of happiness?
Feeling fulfilled. A mix of feeling fulfilled in things like family, friends, what you do for work, where you live all have an impact on your happiness. But it also comes from within, being grateful for who you are and recognizing your uniqueness.
If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?
I would love to meet Joni Mitchell, but when she was younger and at the start of her career. I’d love to just sit in the corner and watch her work haha.
Best advice ever given?
To not waste energy on arguments. If someone isn’t serving you in any way, it’s not worth the energy to try to change them or argue with them. Sometimes you just have to realise what people give you and be thankful for that, but also keep your distance in areas where they bring negativity.
Do you support any charity?
To be honest I’m too poor to support any charity financially, but I’d love to be able to support charities in the future. Anything to do with preserving the environment I’m all for, and helping homelessness – not just putting a badge on the problems but actively preventing homelessness by giving people the support they need.
Where do you see yourself and your career in 5 years from now?
I would love to have an album out in 5 years, it’s something I still haven’t done. I’d love to have built a good fanbase so I can play shows. I also want to do more co-writing for other artists and DJs, as I love writing for other artists.
Favorite song? Why?
Holocene by Bon Iver – it’s the most comforting song I know.
What do you think of Social Media?
It’s a love hate relationship. It is great for marketing yourself and getting your talent out there. It can also be an amazing place for advice on gratitude and how to love yourself if you follow the right accounts. It can however be a bad place when you’re looking at the wrong things and start comparing yourself to others, and I can also feel that sometimes if your social media is doing well, the music industry can see it as more valuable than actual talent – for people like me where social media doesn’t come very naturally, it can be tough.
Where we can follow you?
Book: Any book by Colleen Hoover – especially ‘Verity’, ‘Hopeless’ and ‘All Your Perfects’
Quote: ‘Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.’
Movie: ‘Into The Wild’ and ‘The Peanut Butter Falcon’
Tv Series: ‘This Is Us’
Favorite Food: Sushi, Poke Bowl, Flygande Jacob (Swedish), truffle Mac n Cheese, prawn linguine
Travel Destination: Greece
Photo Credit: Sophie Khoo @sophieekhoo