April 1, 2022 Interview – Lilith Czar
Involved in music professionally for over two decades now, the artist known as Lilith Czar has sustained a non-linear and wild ride. Originally known as Juliet Simms, she has fronted the band Automatic Loveletter, appeared on Season 2 of NBC’s The Voice, embarked on a solo career, and most recently, evolved into Lilith Czar.
A culmination of years of experience, growth, and self-discovery, Lilith Czar’s emerged with the debut album Created From Filth and Dust in 2021 to rave reviews. Justifiably, the album is best described as pure Rock-n-Roll grit, sincerely unapologetic lyrical, and a bold turning point in this talented artist’s career. Comfortable in her own skin, Lilith Czar recently took the time to chat about her evolution in music, the work put into her latest album, touring, and a whole lot more.
Cryptic Rock – You have been involved in music for quite some time. Having worked as an independent artist, you have felt the real struggle an artist has. How would you describe your career in music thus far?
Lilith Czar – A chaotic shit show. (Laughs) Honestly, a roller coaster – lots of highs and lots of lows. I feel like leading up to Lilith Czar was a self-discovery. I started off so young in the music industry, I had no idea who I was. Along the way I had to find who I was while I was telling people who I was. It was kind of like this bizarre circumstance to be in where I was living an adult life, even though I was still a teenager, singing songs about experiences in my life, but still going through so many experiences to become the person I wanted to become. I would say that it was kind of like a butterfly in its chrysalis state; always developing, always evolving. Finally I got to a point a couple of years ago where I thought, “Alright, I know what I want to say now.” (Laughs)
Cryptic Rock – Well with any artist, no matter their age, they are always changing. Look at David Bowie, he was constantly evolving. He never stayed the same, he was always changing.
Lilith Czar – For sure. He said that artists are always evolving and always creating. Him saying that has really resonated in me. I don’t know what it is with my personality, but I will have a sound or look a certain way for 1-2 years, and then I want to try something else. That is how I have always been in my career. I think it’s very true that when you look at artists and musicians, they are constantly evolving and creating… that’s what makes them artists.
Cryptic Rock – Absolutely. Some people are mean-spirited or judgmental. They might take any artist’s changes as insincerity. That is not the case though, it is just evolution and growth as an artist, right?
Lilith Czar – For sure. It is such a blanketed statement. Are we supposed to never evolve or learn? From the day your born you’re changing. It’s not black and white. There are so many details that go into being a persona and being a human. People are always changing. Some people chose to put that into their art.
Let’s say you experience your first real heartbreak at 15 years old, and now you want to use that experience in a form that will inspire people or that they can relate to – that’s changing. If you get a tattoo – that’s changing. If you decide to quit smoking – that’s changing. That idea, “She’s changed”…you don’t fucking know me. Yea, I’m always changing and I want to always be changing. Being the same thing is boring, I don’t want to get bored.
Cryptic Rock – Agreed completely. In 2021 you released Created From Filth and Dust, your debut album as Lilith Czar. This is lyrically, musically, and vocally very powerful. It is comes across very honest. In many ways it feels like it goes for frustrations of a lot of people in the modern world. Tell us about the inspiration behind this record.
Lilith Czar – Well, thank you very much, I really appreciate that. Like you said, the lyrics are extremely honest. I feel like they are some of the most honest lyrics I’ve ever written, which goes back to my ‘authenticity,’ even though I’ve ‘changed’. (Laughs)
This record was my boiling point that I reached that just spilled over. I felt like I had a lid on things I wanted to say and subjects I wanted to talk about. It comes from a lot of years spent in the industry shut up and suppressed. It came from being told, “No, you need to be this, look like this, or do this.” It all boiled to this point where I just couldn’t fucking take it anymore. A lot of these songs have that undertone in them.
The record is certainly a message of self-discovery, sticking up for what you believe is right, sticking up for yourself, believing in yourself, accepting things that you really couldn’t accept before, but now using it as your power. It is also about the heartbreak you’ve given yourself, the record does have a couple of love songs, but it’s all very much surrounding message about power and owning yourself.
Cryptic Rock – You can feel that power, you can hear it from the onset of the record. There are so many stand out tracks, but what really grabs you is your delivery. Not to sound mean-spirited, but many modern vocal recordings feel very hollow. With this album you can feel it in your soul.
Lilith Czar – Thank you. I take that as a big compliment. I’ve had music in the past that, like you said, I’ve listened to and felt, “where’s the Rock?” I’m not going to name any names, but certain producers have made my voice very sleek and cleaned up. I’ve always had a problem with that. It is something I’ve always said to my label, my manager, and my husband. I needed to find a producer that lets me sing the way that I sing. A producer that would allow the tone, cracking, and rawness to shine, not strip it. I have experienced so many times in the past, primarily with Pop producers, which would tell me, “can you do that, but without any of the grit.” They would basically describe making it boring. (Laughs)
Scott Stevens is probably the first producer I’ve ever made a record with that said, we are going to explore the crap out of the way you sing. There are two songs on the record that were one take and done, but most songs on the album, “King” for instance, must have been sung five takes of the verse, etc. I mean a whole day of singing the vocals and him saying, “This ain’t it, do it again.” He really tried to push me and get that thing that I have with my voice out. I tell him all the time thank you for letting me be me.
Cryptic Rock – It sounds as if everything came together for you. The grit is what makes ‘it’ with music. Could you imagine if they tried to clean up someone like Janis Joplin’s voice?
Lilith Czar – Holy shit no! We would have no Janis! There would be no Janis and there would certainly be a lot less women singing with rasp.
Cryptic Rock – For sure. Well, it all came together well and this record needs to be heard. We spoke about “King,” but let’s talk about “Anarchy” now. What does “Anarchy” mean to you?
Lilith Czar – It evolved into something I didn’t know it was going to. When I originally started writing the “Anarchy” lyrics it was about how my husband and I had a thing about us that we can call bullshit on anything. If we see something that doesn’t make sense, or someone says something that was bullshit, we would just know it was not right. Ever since we first started dating it was kind of like us against the world.
I then continued to dive into the lyrics and I realized, “Oh, this is about the people who listen to my music, my fanbase, and people who have followed me through my life.” The song was going in one direction and then hit a hard right that made me realize this is a love song to my fans, but not just my fans, but people who are outside the norm, those who are different, those who have opinions. It is about people who have been told they should be different or change. It is basically a fuck you to anybody making you feel less than and making you feel you need to believe something you don’t believe. People have free will and they should be allowed to be exactly who they want to be with anybody having a problem with that. That’s what “Anarchy” turned into.
Cryptic Rock – It certainly feels that way and makes anyone feeling that way not feel alone. There is certainly a lot of bullshit in the world, so many people can relate. You are currently on the road with Motionless in White, Black Veil Brides, and Ice Nine Kills. You then will be out with Three Days Grace after that, and Halestorm as well as The Pretty Reckless after that. Lots going on! First, how excited are you about the current run?
Lilith Czar – Yes, the Trinity Tour and I am so fucking stoked to be on this tour. Almost half the shows are sold out. I feel like these are my people. I’m very excited to get in front of these fans. It’s going to be great to be able to play again every night. This is a long tour, it goes right into my tour with Three Days Graces, a bunch of radio fests, then the summer run with Halestorm, The Pretty Reckless, The Warning… so it’s going to be really long and awesome. I really love the venues we are playing to – decent size theaters. I can’t wait to get back out on the road and tour with three bands that I love.
Cryptic Rock – It’s a great lineup. It has been a very Sci-Fi like past two years. Is it odd to get back in some sort of touring routine like this?
Lilith Czar – It is. The first tour I went back out after 2020 was with Halestorm and Evanscence. That was like going from being in pajamas all day long to have to do something. It was such a leap from what we’ve all been doing for the past two years. It was almost jarring. When you are home you have all your comforts. When I had to pack for this last tour I had to really think, what do I need? Once you get back on the road a week or two in you get the swing of needs. You always get out there though and say I forgot everything I need. (Laughs)
Cryptic Rock – (Laughs) That is always the case. Hopefully we can see more regular touring like this.
Lilith Czar – I fucking hope so. Our last tour we were on got postponed because of COVID. For someone who is up and coming, that shit is expensive! If you are not touring arenas, it’s hard to tour right now. It’s my favorite thing to do though, so I am going to make it happen.
Cryptic Rock – Good for you! So, since you seem very well-versed in music, what are some of your musical influences?
Lilith Czar – So many. It all started when I was a really little girl. I can’t remember not ever having music played in our house. I grew up in San Diego, CA. My dad and his brothers were surfers and we lived on the beach. From the moment I was born we were living to Fleetwood Mac, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Simon and Garfunkel, James Brown, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, and Janis Joplin. That was in my veins since I was an infant. Then as you get older you start to discover music and bands for yourself. I discovered David Bowie when I was 11 and that blew my mind. I discovered Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Jimmy Eat World, Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, etc. I feel anything I listen to is influential. That is why you listen to things over and over because it’s inspiring, makes you feel good, and influences you in some way. It’s hard for me to say there are 3 artists, because I love so much music.
Cryptic Rock – It is a tough question to answer, especially when you love music. We spoke to you a few years back and you mentioned you liked Horror films. Refresh us, what are some of your current favorites?
Lilith Czar – I love The Conjuring and Insidious series. There are some really great new Horror movies. I just watched The Platform (2019) a year ago and I have been obsessed with that, it’s horrifying, but awesome!
One of my favorite Horror movies is one of the lowest rated on Rotten Tomatoes, As Above, So Below (2014). I think it’s awesome, I’ve seen it 20 times, it’s so real and creepy. I think it just did not get a fair shot. Another more modern Horror film that freaked me out when I saw it was Sinister (2012). The second and third Sinister were not so good, just don’t do it. What’s up with that? That Conjuring series is great at that, they are all scary. Insidious was awesome, the second one was okay, the third one….I probably hated it and deleted it from my memory. (Laughs) I just love Horror movies.
Cryptic Rock – Good selections. It is easy to get lost in a streaming platform before you actually find something you want to watch these days.
Lilith Czar – Absolutely. We preview things and a half hour goes by, it is such a time suck.
Cryptic Rock – That is why it is great to have a DVD collection – you pick something from your collection and just watch it.
Lilith Czar – Yes, those were the days. That was our Friday night. Before streaming and Blockbuster still existed, that was our thing.
Cryptic Rock – A lot of people had that routine. Which raises another question. Physical format is essentially dead with music and film. As an artist, how do you feel about that?
Lilith Czar – It’s a catch 22; there are so many things about that are great and so many things about it that suck. Your music on a streaming service makes it so people can discovery you. Prior to that it was much more difficult to get into people’s heads, now something can go viral or get passed along, and people can access your music a lot easier. However, in the same respect, it financially makes things more difficult for artists. I think you get a fraction of a penny for every so many streams. That’s the game of it. You give up something, but you gain something else. I was a huge CD collector growing up. It was a ritual, every weekend I would take what I earned babysitting or whatever and I would go buy CDs. It was fun, you would look at the artwork, it was fun to have something, you would hold it. It was just as important as having pants to wear.
What if all of sudden it was – no more pants for you? It was nice to have the thing and to know that on this tiny paper thing shiny silver thing there was this whole world. You were going to put it in and you were going to listen to it from the start to the end, which is so important to a record’s story. You get closer to the artist or closer to what the music is about listening to it in the way the artist wanted it to go. It would be like skipping half way through a song and saying I’m going to listen to it starting at 2 minutes and 58 seconds. That is what I equate it to.