We at PHILTHY have long been supporters of dreamy shoegazers The Stargazer Lilies. We first met them in August of 2013, months before their debut LP, We Are the Dreamers, was out. We last caught up with them in the summer of 2014, as they were about to hit the road with Tobacco. They’ve played our City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly affection, including dates at Kung Fu Necktie, Johnny Brenda’s, Underground Arts, and, as of a few months ago, Ortlieb’s. Last month The Stargazer Lilies released their sophomore LP, Door to the Sun, which has them putting a little more emphasize on their psychedelic side. They’re currently on the road and will be playing our very own Bourbon & Branch this Monday, July 11th. I recently got a chance to catch up with founding members Kim Field and John Cep to talk about what they’ve been up to these past two years.
Izzy Cihak: So the last time we spoke was almost exactly two years ago. What have been some of the highlights of the band since then, in addition to the release of your second LP? You’ve done a ton of touring.
The Stargazer Lilies: We have done a ton of touring in the last couple of years. I think we last saw you at a Tobacco show in Philly. We covered the US with him and had a total blast. We’ve obviously also been busy writing and recording Door to the Sun, which just came out on Graveface Records June 3rd. We’ve been touring a lot this year on our own and with a lot of our friends in prep and support of that. Also Tammy (our not so new drummer) has come into the picture as of last August.
Izzy Cihak: Keeping with that, you have played Philadelphia a number of times now. What are your thoughts on the city? Any favorite gigs or memories? I actually don’t think you’ve played the same venue twice.
The Stargazer Lilies: Yeah… I think you’re right. We haven’t played the same venue twice. We’ve liked all the Philly venues but it’s a hard town to break into. It seems like an inner circle kind of place. Funny since we live in PA only a couple of hours away. But we really loved the vibe of Ortlieb’s when we played there recently. That venue is really cool and is very welcoming, which isn’t always the case with venues. There are some exciting bands coming out of Philly, like the up and coming The Morelings, who we are friends with.
Izzy Cihak: And to get back to your latest album, how do you think Door to the Sun compares to We Are the Dreamers, both in terms of sound and the process of writing and recording it? It does seem to be a slightly different sound, which you mentioned would be likely during our last chat. Do you feel like a significantly different band than when you recorded your debut?
The Stargazer Lilies: Honestly don’t think we were trying to be significantly different on the new album. Overall both albums are down tempo, melodic, guitar oriented, etc. A few tunes on the new one are a bit more up-tempo, “Personal Autumn,” “When With You,” and “A Beautiful Space” are all a bit more up. “When With You” is in an atypical time signature for this genre, 5/4, and uses some jazzier chords than generally used in gaze/psych etc. Some of the drum tracks are a bit more organic than on our first album, which speaks to your question of process. And we definitely tried to push the more psychedelic aspects of the band on this new release.
Izzy Cihak: What would you consider to be the album’s most significant influences, both musical and otherwise?
The Stargazer Lilies: Most significant influence is nature… Mostly the dream of the desert and a nakedness you get there to the sky and stars and the universe and how otherworldly it feels. Also, the album is highly influenced by our touring experience. It’s raw like We Are the Dreamers was emotionally but more in a “We’re fucking going for this” kind of way and less in a “We’re hurt and in pain” kind of way. Musically it’s probably what you would expect. We never try to emulate any other band. But we were listening to Floyd a lot in some stages of the writing process.
Izzy Cihak: Have you had any favorite reactions to the album?
The Stargazer Lilies: The album has been really well received so far. We reached #2 on Shoegazer Alive’s top 60 of the first half of 2016. We’ve seen a lot of people calling it the Dreampop, Shoegaze best album of the year already. That makes us really happy because that music genre scene is really enthusiastic and has been incredibly supportive of us, going way back to Soundpool. We majorly respect the opinion of that scene.
We also know that the psych scene is behind the record, as is the pop scene. Tobacco has been very supportive and has expressed that he especially loves the dusty quality and vibe of “Golden Key.” We’re supporting him this September at Brooklyn Bowl. Best Coast has invited us on to four of their East Coast shows this summer. The support of great artists like those really make us feel like we’re moving in the right direction and staying true to our dreampop/shoegaze scene while transcending the genre and opening ourselves up musically to acceptance from other areas of the cool indie music world.
Izzy Cihak: What can be expected of the live show on this run of dates? I think Bourbon & Branch may actually be your most intimate Philly, or Philthy, show yet.
The Stargazer Lilies: We are on tour with Pale Dian. They are blowing us away. Being on tour with a band that is as good as they are is making us be a better band. It’s a major love vibe. But the struggle is real with both bands financially still. We’re both doing very intense touring which can really put you far out there in every way. So expect some raw emotions. It’s a beautiful show. We make people cry. Both bands.
Izzy Cihak: And what about these dates with Best Coast. Are you excited to play some shows like that? Were you previously fans of the band?
The Stargazer Lilies: Oh… Yeah… are so psyched for these. We are big fans. They are great song writers and musicians and have plowed the way into a bigger arena for indie artists. We’re friends with them also, which makes it that much more exciting. Bobb has been super supportive of us. He’s an awesome musician and dude. Bethany is just a really rad artist and lady as everyone knows.
Izzy Cihak: I really like your recent music videos, especially the one for “Summer’s Gone.” What is it that inspires the visual elements of the band? Are there visual artists you especially admire or find inspiring?
The Stargazer Lilies: Visually we’re going for a late 60’s early 70’s meets 90’s vibe. For that particular video we wanted an emotional feel like you get from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. We also wanted a sort of French 60’s vibe and took some inspiration from Francois Hardy vids. Our videos are a zero budget. We do everything ourselves and all of these videos were shot while rehearsing and working full-time this past fall in prep for the release of Door to the Sun. We also edited them all ourselves. We did have some camera work help from our good friend LG of Dead Leaf Echo. But other than that help they were all totally DIY. So with our limits with budget, focus, and time we were just trying to portray emotion.
Izzy Cihak: Finally, what’s next for you? How do you hope to spend the second half of 2016, after this batch of dates wraps?
The Stargazer Lilies: We have tons of touring still for July, August, and September. We’re recording album #3 all the while. So that’s as much as we can wrap our heads around at the time being.