LIJO – Stranger Danger

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LIJO - Stranger Danger

LIJO – Stranger Danger

 

LIJO captures adventurous, literate songwriting in eccentric pop songs that are compelling in their reluctance to obey any rules but her own.

 

The balance between revealing your true self or living up to an image fascinates LIJO and inspires her music. Taking risks, making your own choices, questioning what is accepted and trying to change what’s to be considered normal is everything she stands for.

 

She is constantly exploring her own boundaries in order to cross them. This leads to a journey that can be dark, cynical and sometimes emotional, as well as playful and lighthearted.

 

Her untamable curiosity and urge to keep renewing herself are reflected in a live performance that’s always in motion. LIJO plays with beats and loops in her electronic set, but her songs are just as convincing stripped down to the naked core with only a piano and her characteristic vocals.

 

While her influences are many and hard to pinpoint, some names that could come to mind are Kate Bush, The Dø, Imogen Heap and St Vincent.

 

After spending a year working on her music in Berlin with singer, writer, and producer Bled White, the first two-part ‘My Inner Parts’ was out in Spring 2019 and supported by a spring tour in the UK.

 

 

In the summer of 2019 LIJO travelled to Scandinavia as she was invited to play the Gothenburg Culture Festival, followed by a fall tour through Germany and Poland in support of the release of ‘Push Me,’ the first episode of follow up two-part ‘My Every Part.’ The last single ‘Stranger Danger’ concludes this journey.

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Name the artists that have influenced you so far. 

Many, but for this particular EP I’d say – Regina Spektor, St Vincent, Imogen Heap, and Kate Bush are the most important.

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Mention the name of the artist you can regard as the “Greatest Of All Time.”

I have many artists that I think are great and I cannot compare them at all, and then there are probably many more that I don’t know about that might deserve a title like that.

 

In the musical landscape, they complete each other and inspire and influence each other as well. I wouldn’t put just one on top of the mountain.

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Discuss your composition.

It depends a lot on my mood and whatever is available. My piano was gone for a month due to reparations and I wrote on guitar, but I’m no guitar player by far.

 

When I write in a recording program, a different kind of song will be the result.

 

I almost always write music and lyrics at the same time; they are too intertwined to me to write lyrics to a finished song. Rarely I write lyrics first. I’m a lyric-oriented person.

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Share your press releases and reviews with us. 

‘Stranger Danger’ is the final episode of two-part ‘My Every Part.’

 

It is LIJO’s most upbeat track so far, but with a darker undertone: it narrates about taking pride in who you are regardless of expectations or judgment but was written to address the lack of true connection.

 

LIJO:

“I feel everybody is on an island or in a bubble more than ever – it definitely is easier to get in touch with people, but in the meantime, it is also easier to watch, compare, judge and assume without really connecting.

 

 

Though the video is quirky and has a light feel to it, it only represents the sugar coating of a more serious thing – something that I feel is going on a lot these days. I think it’s important to remain both true to yourself and open towards others.”

 

LIJO’s debut releases consist of ‘My Inner Parts’ and ‘My Every Part,’ the first being created in Berlin and the latter in home-town Utrecht.

 

“At first the two projects didn’t really have to do with one another, but they connected well thematically, so I decided to glue them together. It’s all about two sides: who you really are inside versus who you show to the outside world, and then the correlation between those two. I find that very fascinating.”

 

‘Stranger Danger’ concludes this ‘Parts’ journey. The next step will be LIJO’s debut album. “I’m writing it right now; I think it’s about halfway done. It’s going to be a bit gloomier than ‘Stranger Danger,’ I guess. A bit icier.”

 

Stranger Danger:

“Dutch avant-pop singer LIJO mixes the sound of Weimar Republic cabaret and modern electronics on her new single Stranger Danger, a song about expecting the unexpected when in a relationship. A bit of friendly advice that there is no need to lash out (“Are you a dog that barks at strangers? ⁠”) but embrace the quirks and oddities that life is likely to come up with.”

– Here Comes The Flood (NL)

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Elaborate on this song. 

Much as my press release states, ‘Stranger Danger’ is about being confident in a judgmental world. It’s a light-hearted track with a cynical backdrop. The music video does that combination a lot of justice; it’s almost goofy and at the same time very odd, sterile and surreal.

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Rate social media and tell us the platform that works best for you in promoting your music. 

I’m terrible at understanding social media, to be honest. I do post regularly, but I don’t really have an idea of what works best and what doesn’t. It’s fickle as well – sometimes something gets a lot of response, whereas something else that I consider equally important doesn’t. I haven’t quite figured it out yet.

 

I’m not on many of the socials either – just Instagram and Facebook. I think they work equally OK, although I believe playing live and connecting with people face to face is the best promotion for my music.

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State the areas that need improvement in the music industry.  

Diversity and equality, I would say? Of course, there’s the payment issue for artists now that music gets paid for less and less, which makes it harder for independents to keep up and that affects the diversity as well.

 

Then there’s the gender equality thing, and though I believe that the industry is changing for the better in that aspect, I think there’s still some work left to be done.

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Explain how you are getting your songs to stores and getting it to fans.  

I’m a small independent artist, the best way for me at this stage is playing gigs and advertising online. Many offline record stores are gone in the Netherlands, so I’m working with the streaming services and the small local shops.

 

I also have a newsletter system, where fans get extras when they sign up, like The Lyric Book where I collect poems, writings, on the road photos, etc.

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Tell us how you prepare yourself for a live performance or show. 

I rehearse a lot. There are many things to practice as I work with loops, beats, synths, etc. Lots of buttons. The more often I do it, the more my hands just know what to do and I can focus on the story of the songs. I think that’s what I find important; being able to feel my stories when I perform them, rather than singing them on autopilot while managing my gear.

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Tell us your opinion on frequent releasing of singles or just an album in a while. 

I have been releasing for separately and I think that worked out well for me. It shows that I’m busy, not only to the outside world but to myself as well.

 

I have been making videos to each of them which has also been a lot of fun. It’s cool to be able to focus on one song at a time and with so many artists, it’s good to be in the picture with something new so now and again. Though, I am a huge album fan. I only listen to albums. They tell the bigger story and last long enough to pull you into another world. That’s why right now I’m writing one because I strongly believe in the concept of an album as a longer story and the result of a phase in your career.

 

 

I do plan on releasing those songs separately as well though, but in the end, they’ll form an album that you can listen to and have time to be sucked into.

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Mention the name of the artist you will be glad to see the live performance. 

St Vincent! And in retrospect, Kate Bush. Imogen Heap as well. Her show got cancelled because of Brexit.

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Tell us the themes of most of your songs. 

Now, I’m very interested in the sense of self in modern society. There’s a lot of window-shopping going on and it’s never been easier to create masks for yourself.

 

 

I’m asking myself; what do I show people, and therefore, how does that picture affect my view on myself? How does it affect my relationships with others? People are said to be longer than ever while at the same time, it should be easier to get in contact with people than it’s ever been.

 

I’m thinking a lot about what true connection means in a world that is so rapidly changing and that feels to me as a sugar-coated bomb ticking faster and faster. It’s so scary and endlessly fascinating at the same time to observe people and myself dealing with that.

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Discuss your recording. 

For my first four singles, I worked with two producers; in Berlin with Christian Kühn who’s the brain behind Bled White, and in Utrecht with Sascha Meijer. That way of working was very new to me and therefore I learned a lot.

 

As a band-oriented person (my first two albums were with my other project, Ilen Mer, and we use to record every instrument live) producing electronically was a whole other world. Especially the last two tracks are very electronically oriented, meaning I wrote the demo tracks and Sascha brightened up the sound picture, added the cool drums, etc.

 

Now, I’m working on my album with a dear friend of mine in my hometown in the Netherlands. It’s a different approach again; we use electronic stuff, but also, we insert many real-life instruments again. I have a love for acoustic pianos and playing around while recording. I believe the album is a bit more organic.

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Tell us how boring or exciting the music career can be. 

Absolutely not boring. First, it’s the love of my life. Second, it’s hard work and to me… I ‘work’ from the moment I get up to the moment I go to bed, but that includes writing songs, fiddling on a guitar or figuring out my live set. Those things don’t really feel like work – the emailing, promoting and discussing does. To me it’s really exciting, especially now that things are starting to roll a little bit; I founded a small label with my friends of Pocket Knife Army called Mind:The:Gap, we’re doing some touring through Europe together, I’m releasing stuff. So much is happening, no day is the same, and though there are days that I wish I could just close the office door at 5…

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State your artist’s name and elaborate on it. 

LIJO means ‘it was raining’. That to me represents a fruitful period, and though it might have been a bit of a grey one, it’s what allows me to grow and flourish.

 

The origin of the name is less romantic. It’s Lithuanian, and as far as I know, I have no connection to Lithuania. I was just looking for a name that sounded right to me, and when I found this one and understood the meaning, it resonated with me enough to adopt it. It did cause a girl of Lithuanian origin to get curious and come see one of my shows in England. We became friends, all because of something that popped up in Google Translate. I love that kind of stuff.

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State the title of the song and the meaning. 

I wrote the verses and pre-chorus of the song first and they are about my confident times. Like, ‘I might seem odd to you, but I feel very comfortable in my skin right now and I think you could learn something from that.’ Letting go of expectations and judgments (the ones you project on yourself as well!).

 

The chorus is about the distance people keep to other people or things they don’t know and thus fear or deem weird. Sometimes I believe most judgments that are made, are born from jealousy; people judge harsh on something they envy.

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State the title of the album and the reason for choosing the title. 

The two-part is called ‘My Every Part.’ It’s the follow-up to another two-part called ‘My Inner Parts’. Together they form an EP called ‘Parts.’ Lots of parts, right?!

 

This also comes from the idea of showing who you are and being what you show. The core of you versus your projection. All the different sides people have and accepting them.

 

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