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Introducing: Lilly Ahlberg

Friday 02 March 2018

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Words Alice Bell

From moving around the world to her journey as a Youtube star, to a recording artist. Italian born singer songwriter Lilly Ahlberg has been on an incredible musical journey so far and with the recent release of her brand new single “Bad Boys” there’s no stopping her yet. We had a chat with Lilly earlier this week to talk all things from the first song she ever learnt to play too the inspiration behind her latest single.

How did your journey into music start?

It all started when I was about thirteen, fourteen, my brother played the guitar and he taught me “Tracey Chapman, Fast Car’ on the guitar. I wasn’t too interested until I learnt that song and I was like “Oh that’s a song that I can maybe play!” and then as soon as I’d learnt that I recorded it and put it on YouTube and people seemed to like it! So I just continued to upload all the songs I loved to play and sing, it all just flowed from there really.

How did you find the transition from posting your songs on YouTube to being the musician you are now?

Well, it all happened quite slowly behind the scenes. It’s not been a massive shock actually, I’ve always been writing my own stuff behind the scenes and working at the studio whilst I’ve been putting covers out on YouTube. It’s just slowly become a bit less interesting and entertaining for me to put covers out. Just because the original music has interested me more and taken up for of my time and creative side.

Do you feel a difference between playing your own songs to covers?

Yeah, I do! Because my own music is a bit more electronic and I’ve played a gig now with my own tracks and it’s very different from singing covers, which is nice to be able to do something a bit different. For my own music, it is much more about the vibe of the song and how the song feels, I don’t like to get too into all the details of the song just more about how it feels.

So, what is your writing process like?

Well I started writing by myself and just a guitar, quite folky stuff, very acoustic. Then I slowly started working with other people in the studio, so it’s often me a producer and a top liner and we just sort of jam out some chords and start coming up with melodies and talk about ideas and life struggles and yeah that’s how it starts.


You’ve got your song bad boys and its definitely resonated with a lot people, what was the inspiration behind it?

What brought the idea to mind was that a friend of mine was seeing a guy and he was being a bit stand offish and a bit douchey, as these bad boys can be! But we ended up going to a party with him and all his friends and it all just turned into a big mess. And it just made me think like “Why would you wanna be with him? He’s a douche!” Then I realised, oh wait I actually kinda like guys like that too.

The tune really reminds me of Tove Lo, who are you influenced by?

Okay cool! I really like her stuff! I like all the modern pop girls out there at the moment that I think are doing really cool things like MØ, Julia Michaels and Astrid S. I tend to be inspired by a separate track and not so much just an artist. So often that’s how a session will start, with me being inspired by a track that I’d heard recently.

So, you’ve also worked with UØ on a track called don’t talk about it what was it like working with them?

It was really good! I’ve worked with them before, I’m really good friends with them so we’ve done a few tracks together. Then they showed me this track they’d been working on with a girl called Clara May, who also is an artist releasing stuff but before she was just kind of writing for other people. So they showed it to me and were like “We wanna release this and wanted to know if you’d feature on it?” and I was like yeah cool! So that’s how that happened.

You’ve moved around quite a lot and loved in lots of different places tell us about that and how it’s influenced your musical style?

I was born in Italy but recently I’ve lived in Australia, that’s sort of where the music really started for me and when my YouTube channel started to grow like crazy because I did a cover of Rip Tide by Vance Joy. I was really inspired by the acoustic, folky, indie sound they have over there and really like a lot of Australian song writers. Moving around created a really strong relationship with music for me as it’s been the one constant thing in my life between moving around. I’ve always had my music, my YouTube channel and that whole little community. So it’s definitely made my relationship with music stronger in that way.


What’s been your favourite place you’ve ever lived and why?

Oh that’s hard! There all so different. I live in Norway until I was about twelve, I loved living there! Then there’s my hometown Helsingborg, that’s where I’ve lived the most and sort of where me and my family always come back too, so I’ll always have a special connection to Sweden. I think I’m gonna have to say Australia though, just because I went to a really good school and it really made me grow up quite a lot… And the weather obviously!

Speaking of better weather, festival season is around the corner can we expect to be seeing you at any?

I’m not sure yet, I hope so! I know that there’s been some talks, but there’s a lot of festivals I’d love to play but maybe not yet because I really want to build up my following a bit more before I do any of the big festivals that I love to eventually be able to play. I haven’t been to any of the English festivals yet though, I’ve been to a couple in Sweden though.

So what would your dream line-up be if you were going to a festival?

I saw Bon Iver, who’s my absolute favourite band. Which is quite funny because it’s very different to my own music, but i saw them recently at The Hammersmith Apollo and they were amazing so i’d definitely put them on my dream line up.

Any really good gigs that you’ve played recently?

I haven’t got any more lined up just yet, there’s some things going on that have been locked in.

I played a gig up in Dalston at Birthdays, just to show some of my songs and play ‘Bad boys” which was really fun. It made me realise why I do what I do and why I keep working at it, because sometimes you can get a bit lost in this industry with all the writing and all the business side of it! So it was nice to just get a taste of why I’m doing this again.

So what can we be expecting to look forward to from Lilly Ahlberg next?

We are currently working on single number two which I’m really excited about. Trying to get that in place so that should hopefully be out in April, but you never know with these things but hopefully around that time. Then i can go on to release a couple more singles and then from there I’m hoping I would’ve built up enough of a following that I can then start looking at working on an album.