Born in the Philippines, raised in New York and currently residing in Atlanta, Georgia, Raquel Lily is an independent singer, songwriter, producer, guitarist and online personality. She streams music performance and a variety of content, including live vlogging (IRL Streaming), Just Chatting, Social Eating, gaming and cooking on Twitch. Graduating from UC Davis with a degree in Neurobiology, Physiology and Behaviour, Raquel left the medical field and dove head first into her creative pursuit in music and began online streaming in 2017.
On her new song Heartstrings she says, "It's a song I wrote about a mushroom trip I went on, and the introspection that occurred on how much love and appreciation I have for someone; it was all so damn gushy and cute that I found it to be kind of disgusting and embarrassing. It was also on the heels of exploring concepts of polyamory in a long time relationship, realizing this love wasn't just something that could go away with some other side fling."
Her upcoming debut, full-length concept album, I'm Leaving, features eight songs, narrating a coming of age story about someone going through their 20's. Raquel confides, "Everyone's been broken from something. You smoke some weed, you fall in love, they turn out to be a fuckboy, you're with someone shitty, you break up, you ghost them, you still love them, you resign, you meet someone new and there's hope again."
Raquel confesses how her songwriting is a cathartic, emotional purge. With the simple objective to guide listeners through an impassioned ride, her songs are driven by genuine experiences from an introspective and honest place. Inspired by the likes of Whitney Houston and old school R&B, Raquel wanted to capture a similar essence of synth-heavy, soul soaked music. Her love for old soul groups and classics, including Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, also shines brightly throughout her music.
Question: How would you describe your music?
Raquel Lily: Indie-soul; indie-R&B
Question: Can you tell us about Heartstrings?
Raquel Lily: It's a song I wrote about a mushroom trip I went on, and the introspection that occured on how much love and appreciation I have for someone; it was all so damn gushy and cute that I found it to be kind of disgusting and embarrassing. It was also on the heels of exploring concepts of polyamory in a long time relationship, realizing this love wasn't just something that could go away with some other side fling.
Question: Is there a particular message you hope listeners take from your music?
Raquel Lily: If I can inspire at least one person to be creative, whether it's learning how to sing or to pick up a paintbrush, or even build something, I feel like I've done my job. If I can make someone think about their lives, feel connected or less alone in any way, I also feel as equally accomplished. I think my purpose in creating music is for people to relate and feel like there is a voice that represents some of their deepest emotions.
Question: Do you prefer performing live or recording?
Raquel Lily: I think there is a special place in my heart for both. You can't really compare the two because they are different crafts one must master separately. Right now, because of the pandemic, I sure miss performing live. I do, however, get doses of that energy when I live stream. It's definitely not the same, but I don't think I'd be able to perform in front of hundreds or thousands at a time like I have been without the internet.
Question: When was your first performance?
Raquel Lily: I must have been 4 years old or so; my parents always sort of pushed me to be a stage kid, whether it was modelling or singing karaoke. I hated it then but I think it's sort of what I was born to do.
Question: What motivates you most when writing music?
Raquel Lily: I get randomly inspired by life moments. I draw my creative energy from things that actually happen to me and it's pretty impossible to feign otherwise.
Question: Which music/artists are you currently listening to?
Raquel Lily: Thundercat, Clairo, Lake Street Dive, Stevie Wonder
Question: If you could collaborate with another artist, who would it be?
Raquel Lily: Bruno Mars, hands down. He's such an inspiration. Between his Filipino roots, his musical prowess and his top-notch production, he is someone I would love to learn from.
Question: Did you have any pre-conceived ideas about the music industry?
Raquel Lily: I just sort of knew it ran like any other business; it has its model, just like any corporate industry, it's workers, its product and what they're trying to push out to make the most profit. I think this paradigm is hugely shifting now, with the presence of so many independent avenues like live streaming, self-production and self-releases.
Question: What moment in your musical career stands out the most?
Raquel Lily: Right when the pandemic happened, I realized how huge live streaming was going to be. There was a festival called StreamAid that was hosted on Twitch that involved top acts like John Legend, Ellie Goulding, Charlie Puth, etc. Being a Twitch Music pioneer, I was asked to play a song of mine to represent Twitch music; I got to perform between Garth Brooks and Barry Gibb in front of 100,000 people. It was an all day virtual festival where we all raised about 1.7 million dollars for Covid relief. That was a huge point in my career when I realized that live streaming, something that wasn't taken so seriously in the industry just months before, was probably the future of music.
Question: What's a typical day like?
Raquel Lily: Wake up, work out or go for a bike ride, get ready for stream, stream for about 3 hours, eat some brunch, work on some music, emails, or whatever I need to catch up on, cook dinner, work a bit more, watch some Netflix, go to sleep at a reasonable hour.
Question: How would you describe your personal style?
Raquel Lily: Grandma-chic hahaha...nah, I don't know. I'm a bit vintage in style. I like wearing dresses, pretty eyeshadow and having purple hair.
Question: What's next, for you?
Raquel Lily: Planning on making some music videos and releasing more songs until I can release my full album at some point. Hopefully, I can get back on the road and start touring again but in the meantime, I'm still grinding away on the internet. I'm really fortunate in that I can continue to pursue my music on a digital landscape but I am definitely not stopping there.
Question: Can you share your socials? (links please)
Raquel Lily: Twitch
Interview by Gwen van Montfort