Labels offer two critical things for musicians: connections and support. Trying to make it big, or to simply survive from the fruits of one’s musical labor, by oneself is difficult to say the least. There’s no one there to introduce you, to preface your story, to showcase your music to the correct audiences, there’s no one there to lay the groundwork or spread the notes. So apart from being the musician and lyricist, one has to be the marketing strategist, the booker, the media organizer, the tour architect, travel advisor, production coordinator, and so many unfathomable roles. Without a helping hand or safety net, Raquel Lily has taken on more than the guitar.
Breaking into the music industry on twitch in 2017, Lily became one of the first streamers on the platform to diverge from its original gaming purpose. One could say her early days were a test run for these pandemic ones. Before touring stage-to-stage, Lily performed day-to-day. “Years later,” Lily said, ” I was able to develop an audience completely online, worldwide, and essentially “toured” without ever having to leave my house. I stream at least 3x a week on Twitch, where I do live music performances of originals (as well as covers), interact with my audience on a personal level, and produce my music on Protools. Music is now my entire life and I do not intend on changing that!”
Although there aren’t many options these days for radical career shifts, Lily had previously pursued scientific endeavors before diving into the musical realm headfirst. With multiple scientific degrees from UC Davis and some years spent in the field, Lily found herself drawing nearer to music. Twitch was only the beginning then.
Now it seems that twitch is the way forward. Prior to Covid-19, Lily had scheduled her year out. “The plan for 2020 was to release an entire album; a song a month was what I outlined for my releases. I was gearing myself up to have to produce and struggle on the road when this godsend of a “EVERYONE STAY AT HOME,” message just swept the globe. Obviously, it’s devastating that we have lost lives over the pandemic, but for me, it became like a sort of creative renaissance,” said Lily.
However, just like the rest of us, “The pandemic also meant, however, that I lost some money and jobs,” said Lily. “Luckily, I was able to supplement and keep streaming from home. Streaming is my main source of income and it remains that way to this day. My audience, because everyone was locked down together, supported me even harder and I was since able to fund an entire music video and several other creative endeavors in the future with the help of my online fam, on top of being able to pay all of my bills. So far, I’ve been able to keep my word and have successfully released 4 songs and a music video, with my biggest music video, “Mary,” yet to come for Pride Month. I’ve still got a lot in the pipe and 2020, despite not being able to go out much, has been incredibly fruitful.”
For those of you unfamiliar with Lily’s music, “Mary,” is an anthem for love. “It was a sexually liberating song for me; I’ve been out for years, and I live a very alternative lifestyle in general, but it’s never really been something I’ve been super vocal about. I think through live streaming, I’ve become more open with what I share with my audience and have gotten more comfortable presenting a less refined image of who I want people to see me as. Instead, I’m just being me. So with Mary, it is actually a double entendre for my love for weed and women. Championing for the LGBTQIA+ has been something I’ve been incredibly proud of because I do feel that it represents myself, some of my friends, and a big part of my own community,” said Lily.
Another stratosphere of Lily’s community are immigrants. Through her music, she leads the way through societal perceptions. Even with “Ghost,” which was just released yesterday, Lily showcases her musical identity and her capability. There is something sultry about her voice and there is soul to her work that juxtaposes one’s musical prejudice by looking at her. “I don’t think there’s enough Asian-American artists in soul/R&B and changing that/beating stereotypes is definitely part of what drives me,” said Lily.
Even when in person isn’t an option, Lily is waging her own war. Us, her fans, are her trusty soldiers. Sending note after note to the frontline, coercing more and more to join her loving army, for each and every battle song, Lily says, “I’m just so grateful to be where I am and to have people (like you) find me randomly and enjoy music in whatever ways they want to. There’s so much we’ve accomplished tougher and the only thing I can say is that it’s just the fucking beginning.”