by Nur Lajunen-Tal

Lilly Carron: Introspective Wilderness

by Nur Lajunen-Tal

Lilly Carron: Introspective Wilderness

Establishing herself with a 2020 debut EP ‘Messy Mind,’ Lilly Carron ’s artistic voice is dreamy, atmospheric, and intimately introspective. Her first single of 2024, the boldly existential Wild For Change, sees that voice growing in confidence and depth, the result being at once plaintive and triumphant as Nur Lajunen-Tal finds. Made with support from NZ On Air Music.

Growing up in Muriwai Beach to the west of Auckland, Lilly Carron has been involved in music since an early age.

“I started singing when I was quite young,” she says. “I did choir all through primary school and high school. My grandparents and my mum have beautiful singing voices. It was always prevalent when we’d go to my grandparents’ house for dinners and stuff. There’d always be a song that would be sung at some point in the night!” she laughs. “So I feel like family really solidified that love for music, just hearing it everywhere.”

Carron began taking music seriously from the end of 2017, when she wrote the song that would become her debut single.

“I went to a music festival that summer, and came home from that and wrote Evaporate The Rain, which is one of the first songs that came out,” she remembers. “My voice sounds so different in it ‘cos I’d recorded it after a two-day festival. I had no voice left! So it’s quite funny listening back to that recording. But after I wrote that, I kind of realised that it was something that I was capable of doing. I’d always dreamed about it, and made short attempts at writing poems and songs and stuff, but that was when I figured out that’s something that I could do, and be proud of.”

Fast-forward four years to the midst of lockdown. Carron, like many others, is undergoing a process of self discovery, which in her case results in a song.

“I wrote Wild For Change in 2021, and it was just me and a guitar, quite a bit slower and a little bit sadder. Similar to my other track Apricot Sun, it’s kind of an escapist theme of wanting to make drastic changes to better yourself or better the life that you’re living. I feel like it’s such a common experience, especially in your early 20s. You all of a sudden have the ability to make decisions for yourself, and decide what it is that you wanna get out of your day and your future, and that comes with almost like an existential crisis at the same time!” she laughs. “It definitely is a common experience of like, ‘What am I gonna do, because I’m not where I wanna be right now, and how can I get there?’”

Eventually, she arrived at what would become the song’s refrain, a plainly stated assertion of free will and responsibility: ‘I’m wild for change, and I am the only one in the way.’ Carron confesses writing this lyric was a revelation for her.

“I think it’s quite easy to pass off blame if there’s anything in your life that’s frustrating, whatever it may be, but I needed to write that in order to realise that there were things that I could do differently in my life to make things easier for myself, or just to get to a happier place or whatever it was at that time. That was when I realised that there are things that I can control to make myself happier and to live the life that I wanna live.”

If this line is a thesis statement, the rest of the lyrics paint a picture of what this looks like. ‘Leave my belongings there on the footpath,’ she sings in what becomes a series of vivid images.

“What I meant by that line is more of a metaphor for habits, or anything in your life that you wanna let go of. The visual of it, I loved as well, because it’s also about taking a journey, and taking a new step. But when I wrote that line, the baggage on the footpath was more of my bad habits or anything that was creating resistance in my life. In terms of when I was writing it, it was fun to play with creating a visual song. Playing with writing something that you could see. That was the goal when I was writing this song, to play with that idea, because I hadn’t really done that before too much.”

As the third single ahead of Carron’s second body of work, Wild For Change is further confirmation of a shift towards a more organic sound after the more slickly produced ‘Messy Mind.’ This creative change was already evident in previous singles Apricot Sun and Ease. Carron enlisted the help of producers Henry and Pierre Beasley (Balu Brigada) for the project- and, in the case of Wild For Change, to polish off the songwriting.

“My demo was a bit more scattered and not so well-structured, and they’ve got really good minds for that, and helped me find a good flow with the story. We sort of flipped it into something a bit more dramatic and a bit more confident. It just flipped it from being quite a sad demo to being a bit hopeful, like, ‘I can make these changes for myself.’ When I was writing it, it came from the emotions of yearning for something different. Yearning is the buzz word right now! But I also wanted it to feel a bit hopeful also, so I hope I did it right and that those two emotions can be heard. It’s quite an uncomfortable feeling to feel lost, and to still be discovering yourself. I wanted you to be able to feel that, but then, for it not to be so scary and heavy.”

Carron says that her main artistic reference was Johnny Cash, not surprising perhaps given the sprawling Western landscape of the finished product.

“I love the groove of his tracks, and the way that he writes. Johnny was the one reference that I took in, and then once we were in the studio and sort of fleshing it all out, we kept on making this joke that it should be part of a Quentin Tarantino movie! And then after that point, we all just leant into this sort of cinematic Western feel, and that’s sort of where it all went.”

Layered vocals abound in the big outro, Carron’s favourite musical moment of the track.

“It just feels so huge as its leading out, and there’s so many different layers of vocals that just create so much space and bigness to it, that I think that’s my favourite part. It opens up to all this space, and that’s kind of how it feels like when you realise that the whole world is ahead of you, or you have your whole life ahead of you. I think that’s why that part calls to me so much, it’s like this big release of energy. The outro was just fun, and Henry and Pierre got on the microphone, and were singing the ‘ahhs’ at the end, so it just really felt like we were all on the track!”

The song is accompanied by a lyric video shot at Muriwai and Tāwharanui.

“I recently had acquired a Super 8 camera. I got it off TradeMe for like 90 bucks, was super stoked, and just took it to the beach and got to play around with it, and the result was the video as you see it. All of those places, you know, just so beautiful and stunning, so you really don’t have to do much to it. Just to exist there is amazing. It was fun to play around with that form of media, and create the video. Those are two places that I really love, and enjoy spending time in, so it seemed fitting that I would film there, and I think it came out really cool, just beautiful scenery and good times.”

Once all the footage was filmed, with help from Nicole Brannen and her label team Carron edited it herself into a lyric video.

“I think it’s kind of fun to just watch it and follow along with the lyrics. The video looks beautiful, and I feel like the lyrics just helped carry the concept a little bit more, and it was fun. It was all in my own handwriting as well, which was fun to do,” she laughs. “When I watch music videos, I’m like turning the captions on, so I feel like it just made sense to do it.”