Check out our interview with Vancouver indie artist Jillian Lake.
Jillian mixes velvet sounds and big feelings to transport you into her world of sweet sorrow in a way that will make you want to take your broken heart out dancing. Feelings transposed onto paper and into music, movements, and visuals – her complex collage of sound with moody folk undertones can be compared to indie female powerhouses like Feist, Maggie Rogers, and Phoebe Bridgers.
Teaming up with musician and producer, Jordan Klassen, who brought his cinematic and syncopated style to her stripped-down singer-songwriter form, together they created an album that combines her raw poetry and instinct for melodies with his expertise in song structure and instrumentation.
Follow Jillian @jillianlake
Hi Jillian, please tell us a little about you?
I’m from a small town in Alberta, Canada but have been living on the west coast in Vancouver. I love big feelings, dog walks, natural wine, making pizza + pasta from scratch, backyard parties and swimming in a good lake.
Describe yourself in 3 words?
passionate, spunky, overthinker
How did you get started in the business?
My family was always super musical – and I was forced into piano lessons, then played the saxophone, then drums – but didn’t find my love of singing until I was in my high school musical…. I was still always too shy and would do some open mics, or campfire harmonies, but it wasn’t until 2017 that I started songwriting. Without a piano in my apartment I taught myself the guitar chord by chord just so I could write songs and then we self recorded my first EP and I learned I loved it too much to ever not do it.
How has this changed your life?
I’ve been really able to do all the things I love and care about, and have the freedom to always be creating, collaborating, and learning. I’ve never reserved to the 9-5 lifestyle and always loved flying by the seat of my pants. Music has allowed me to explore all the avenues – I can write scripts, stories, choreograph dances, whatever I feel and tie it into my music. I feel really connected to people through music and it gives me hope to keep on at it.
Describe your sound in 3 words?
velvet, ethereal, aching
Who influenced you and why did you choose to make music?
Feist, Bon Iver, Leif Vollebekk, Gregory Alan Isakov, Maggie Rogers. I love feelings, and experiences and stories, and I love being able to get it down into a piece of work that can be captured and shared and felt by others. Once I sang and started recording, I knew I had to do it.
Do you play any instrument?
I dabble on guitar and piano mostly for songwriting purposes. I love playing but also have so much fun when I can just be free to sing and dance on stage.
Do you ever get nervous?
Yesssss terribly so. I get very weird and quiet and can’t eat or do much before I play, and then after get mad at myself for not enjoying the day more as I realized how incredible it was and felt. I hope to curve this a bit and get to a point where I’m nervous and it keeps me on my toes, but I still can love and appreciate all the moments.
Tell us about your new single “Olympia?”
Olympia forever will be the song that almost didn’t make the album…. This one was such a tricky one for me as I was torn between making it a single or scrapping it all together. This song was a later addition to the record, we wanted to make a fun one – however there in lies the beginning of the problems for me… i was NOT used to making fun music…. I had been on the sad and sappy train since the beginning. So the song always felt forced to me. I did, however, have so much fun making it, and it was a totally different process than the rest of my songs. Once the song was finished, I perceived the “happy” tones as cheesy…. But everyone I showed it to loved it and would dance along – and I’ve always wanted to inspire that feeling too! It is definitely more “pop” and maybe that was part of the struggle…. It turned into this big looming monster that I couldn’t make my mind up about until right before album deadline. I came to this point where I realized I was thinking way too much about it. Did I like the song? Ya! Is being cheesy and fun a part of who I am just as much as the sad and soft parts? Hell ya! Do I like pop? Also ya! I was trying to fit into too many boxes and worry too much about how it would be perceived and what that would say about me as an artist… until the most freeing moment when I realized the theme of this whole album is about forgiving your younger self, letting go of those expectations, being unapologetic, a sort of “fuck it” vibe if you will….. So now here’s a pop banger for you to dance and sing and imagine yourself on all your future adventures to…
What’s the story behind the song?
The other songs started from stories, this one started with a feeling – we wanted to capture the feeling of driving with the windows down. I am a frequent Tofino visitor (magical surf land on Vancouver Island), and the winding road that leads to it holds my heart. I started writing the lyrics all about the feeling of jumping in the car and driving. I’ve done many a trips sleeping in the van, hardly any money, but content as can be.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
Feeling like other people are moved by it – or can connect with it. I was always so inspired by other music and artists that finding out my songs inspire someone else is wildddddd.
What book should every entrepreneur read?
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
What would say are the greatest lessons you learned so far?
Letting gooooo of the expectations of myself and others, learning to enjoy the process and be more unapologetic.
What advice would you give to your younger self and why?
Well this whole upcoming album is about forgiving your younger self, and learning from everything. So I think I would just encourage younger me to keep experiencing and feeling everything I can and to not waste any time wondering if it’s right or good or stupid or not – but just trust my gut and fly.
How would your best friend describe you?
Loveable, good host, bad texter.
If you are a book, what would be the title of the book and why?
People Pleaser – cause it’s the story of my life and every day battle.
What’s next for Jillian Lake in 2022?
Big things baby!!!! International tour, short film, festivals, recording a new album, and so many fun feathered/fringey outfits.
What is your favorite healthy food?
Arugula – I put that shit on and in everything. I also love garden fresh veggies mmmm.
And your favorite cheat food?
Cheese, so much cheese, burrata especially – but I refuse to think of it as bad for me as anything pure and Italian can only be good for you.
How would you explain your fashion style?
Mum jeans, sassy tops, elegant and french inspired with a party flare when I’m on stage.
What is your own definition of happiness?
Learning to be content with what is around you and appreciating the moment.
What would be the dream holiday, and who would you go with?
Anywhere I haven’t been – next on my list are Iceland, Japan, and Greece.
Best advice ever given?
High hopes, low expectations.
Do you support any charity?
My family runs a foundation in my brothers name “Thaddeus Lake Music Foundation” that helps kids have access to music, instruments, lessons, etc.
Where do you see yourself and your career in 5 years from now?
I hope to be living in a new city, with a dog, my beautiful studio that I write in every day, touring internationally with a band I love, directing my own videos, collaborating with my favourite artists, happy and creative.
Favorite song? Why?
Harvest Moon – Neil Young of course, but also Holocene – Bon Iver. Both I could listen to forever and never be done.
What do you think of Social Media?
That’s a tricky one – I understand it’s importance when you’re promoting yourself as a business but I try to not put too much weight into it. I like to be candid, while still curated to express the things I love. I like connecting with people, I just hate the snapshots of lives, the comparisons, and the expectations of it.
Where we can follow you?
@jillianlake on Instagram!
@jillianlakeband on Twitter
@jillianlakemusic on TikTok
Book: I am a bad reader I can’t even offer a good one
Quote: “Let the music speak for itself”
Movie: Away We Go
Tv Series: Please Like Me
Favorite Food: Burrata
Travel Destination: Japan, Iceland
Sports Team: I just have fun cheering for whoever and being excited to be there and eat a hot dog.