The Stargazer Lilies see themselves as hangover music to the best kind of dance party… But I would also characterize their sound as road tripping music for the hip… They embody a dreamy psychedelic haze, but it’s far more progressive (and introspective) than anything that a jam band has ever produced. The project is the product of Soundpool’s John Cep and Kim Field. Cep handles guitars, drums, bass, and production, while Field is responsible for the majority of the vocals, in addition to bass (something that was new to her). They also enlisted the help of Black Moth Super Rainbow’s TOBACCO and live drummers EJ DeCoske and Johnny Lancia, for their debut LP, We Are The Dreamers, due out October 22nd on Graveface Records. They’ll also be appearing at Kung Fu Necktie on September 3rd with Dead Leaf Echo. Unlike the relatively-danceable anti-disco aesthetic Soundpool was known for, The Stargazer Lilies are more stripped, somber, and suited for early-morning existential reflections. The project has been in the works for a number of years now and has already toured alongside some pretty cool acts. I recently got a chance to chat with Cep and Field, who are both quite satisfied with and excited for this band that was apparently born out of a state of severe discontent.
Izzy Cihak: You’re about to release your debut LP, but you’ve been a band for a while now. What have been the highlights of The Stargazer Lilies’ career, thus far?
John Cep: I would say most of the highlights have come from the support we’ve gotten from Black Moth Super Rainbow and Graveface Records. Opening for BMSR and The Casket Girls in NYC, Brooklyn, and Pittsburgh. Also, Playing the Graveface Fest in Savannah. Tobacco curating the album and The Seven Fields of Aphelion contributing artwork, etc. have all been wonderful. But there are other things as well… like being one of the headliners for the Deep Heaven Now Fest in Boston and touring the south with good friends, Nightmare Air and The Sunshine Factory. Playing the Graveface SXSW showcase was pretty awesome too! Whirr, Nothing, Creepoid, Dosh, The Casket Girls, Gramma’s Boyfriend, Experimental Aircraft, Dreamend… A real killer show! There have actually been many highlights so far. Let’s hope they continue!
Kim Field: My own personal highlight has been becoming the bass player for TSL. I learned bass just for this project. I originally wanted another girl in the group. I tried to find a female bassist. When I got tired of trying to find the perfect fit I decided to just play bass myself. I had been tinkering around with the instrument here and there over a few years and really loved it, but never took it seriously. And when I say tinkering… I mean like very, very little. Like, I never tried to learn a song or anything. So it was a really ambitious thing for me to do. But I absolutely love playing bass and I’m really glad I didn’t have any luck finding the right girl bass player for the band. On other highlights, of course, I would share the same ones that John mentioned, which were all awesome.
IC: What were We Are the Dreamers biggest influences, whether musical or not?
JC: Well, on the not musical influence side of things… we went through some pretty hard times, which definitely shaded the music in a minor sounding way. I think the album has a more melancholy vibe as a result.
KF: We Are The Dreamers really was born out of a state of feeling totally defeated. The only place we had to turn was to our dreams. It was the only way to keep from spiraling in to a state of hopelessness. Music kept us going through some really dark periods. This album is the result of music therapy, I guess.
IC: How do you feel like The Stargazer Lilies reflects or displays an evolution of your previous projects?
JC: I think there is both an evolution and a de-evolution going on with the new material. On the evolutionary side of things, we have the guitars evolving to the point where they literally take over the sound of the music completely, eliminating any need for synths, etc. On the de-evolutionary side of things, the music is more basic and primal than the sort of sophisticated dream pop that Soundpool was noted for.
KF: Somehow, TSL just feels different for me, personally, from Soundpool. It’s like I’m more deeply in love with this project. It’s more me. Maybe it’s because it’s just been John and I creating it and so there’s less outside influence. It’s more personal. Don’t get me wrong, I love Soundpool and I love each member of Soundpool and their contributions, but somehow this project from day one was just more dear to me.
IC: What is it that inspired your moniker?
JC: I actually never heard of the flower Stargazer Lily until a friend asked if some flowers on our Saarinen Tulip dinette table were “Stargazers.” I always loved the term stargazer and thought The Stargazer Lilies would make a perfect moniker for a downtempo, dreamy, psychedelic-heavy, spaced out, flower power sort of band. We actually started the band at least in part for that very reason.
IC: What are your most significant hopes and plans for the rest of 2013?
JC: Well, our release is slated for September 10th… and since this album has been years in the making, that’s probably the biggest thing going on this year. Along with the album, Kim I self produced half a dozen music videos, which we are excited to be releasing.
KF: We still have a couple of songs that we don’t have videos for. I’ve been really trying to come up with the right inspiration for those. I actually came up with what I think is an idea for one of them yesterday and I haven’t even pitched it to John yet. So I’m sure those will be in the works soon. I’m hoping for some exciting shows, of course. I’d really like to see some things happen that blow my mind. I’ve personally had such a shitty few years that I’d like to see the universe twist that around and give me some experiences that are so blissed out and exciting that I can’t believe it’s happening. Sort of the opposite of how it’s felt when things have gone so terribly wrong that I couldn’t believe it was happening. I’ve really been working hard on my karma and state of mind, so I’m ready for the positive change. That’s my goal for the rest of 2013 and beyond.
IC: You have a handful of upcoming live dates, including a local stop at Kung Fu Necktie. What can be expected of the live experience?
JC: We hope that being put into a state of bliss is the experience people have from our live performances.
KF: I honestly think that if people get the opportunity to see us live, and if we are fortunate enough to have everything go smoothly with our equipment and with sound engineering, then they will really love what they experience. We’re still working hard on getting the opportunities to be invited onto the right tour/tours. It’s the most challenging thing for us right now. Hoping we get out there to the degree I envision. I think people will love the live experience, if we can get past the challenge of making it happen.