You might not know the name Lilla Vargen, but rest assured, the Northern Irish singer-songwriter with a soulful and evocative voice is one to add to your playlist. Projecting vulnerability and tenacity in her powerfully lovelorn songs, Lilla’s just released her EP We Were Thunder and is ready to be one of the UK’s most important new voices! We sit down with the devastatingly beautiful artist.
Hi Lilla, thanks so much for chatting with Forte! Congrats on the release of your new EP We Were Thunder. Can you talk us through the creative process of this one?
Thank you so much! The process was a lot of writing and soul searching and I managed to do that by taking time to reflect on some of my toughest emotional experiences in the past few years. It was hard to put pen to paper sometimes but when I did it was such a release for me.
Your EP seems to be grounded in connection, emotion, and meaning, and listening to it, you can feel your emotion. Are these songs quite self-reflective pieces, or were you inspired by others/things around you, or both?
I am inspired by friends and even people I don’t know but a lot of it is deeply personal and about my own experiences. I think it’s good to look outside yourself when writing too, but for the EP it was mainly about real-life emotions and loss.
We are particularly fond of ‘Solitary’. What’s the story behind this one?
‘Solitary’ is perhaps the most honest I’ve been with myself. It’s about me realising that it can be better to be alone than to not be getting what you deserve.
The EP follows the four-track Hold On EP. What are the main differences between the two for you personally?
I think We Were Thunder is a step up for me in terms of the songwriting. Hold On was my very first experience of putting myself out there emotionally, lyrically and vocally, and to be honest I wasn’t sure what I wanted my sound to be. But I feel like my new EP feels more like me. More confident and more sure of itself.
You have quite an ethereal and angelic voice – what was your journey into music like? Have you always been musically inclined?
I have always had a deep connection with music. From a very young age, I would stay inside and play piano for hours or I’d listen to my parent’s old CDs. I was very curious about it and loved to try writing my own songs from a very young age. I learned to play piano and guitar by ear and once I felt more confident I then started writing full songs. My whole family are music lovers and are all great singers!
Do you enjoy sharing your music live on the stage, or is it creating the music where you thrive?
I love both. But I think the music comes to life live on stage. And I love writing and recording but performing to an audience is like nothing else.
Who are your musical influences?
Dusty Springfield and Carole King are huge inspirations to me – strong women that really broke the mould and shaped music. So many of Carole’s songs are important to me personally.
Now that the EP is out, what’s next for you? Any plans to come to Australia??
There’s another EP coming in early 2020, which contains some of my favourite songs I’ve written to date, and which make up a majority of my live set. I can’t wait to start recording my album next year as well; it feels like everything I’ve done so far has been building towards that. I’ll be out on the road throughout the year as well, doing more of my own shows, and festivals across the summer. And I’d love to come to Australia – that’s definitely on the cards after how much you guys have been streaming my songs!
Release: We Were Thunder, out now via Liberator/Future Kind.