At turns self-depreciative, introspective, funny, poignant, cringy, and mellow, Lilly Dickinson’s inaugural improv comedy album is a meditative kind of stream-of-consciousness. With original musical accompaniment provided by Lilly, the album prods at creative ingenuity: Its purported goal, its limitations, and the whole cosmic joke of it.
Earlier, Lilly was kind enough to answer five questions for us about how she got to where she is and where she’s going:
1. What was the long road to the album like? Where did you start- music, comedy, prose, poetry?
I started writing music when I was 8 years old. I have always used writing music as well as filmmaking as my tools for expressing myself. All of my work, even when I was very young making my first demo EP entitled ‘Ivy Vines’, has always been built around darker themes of mental health and personal struggles. These darker themes continue into my more recent film and music projects like my short ‘The Lexicographer’ and my most recent music project ‘Softie’ discussing issues like gender dysphoria, loneliness, mood disorders, and self worth. ‘The Less I Know’ really started to form as a way to poke fun at this dark streak of thinking that has passed through all of my work for the past 18 years. I wanted to shake things up and lean towards different more positive emotions and themes of humor and silliness.
2. You mentioned that both “Heavy Crit” and “Inspired Improv” were what kicked this whole project off. What was it about those two tracks that gave you inspiration?
“Heavy Crit” and “Inspired Improv” both were recorded in 2015. These tracks were the first time I had taken my love for improvising music and improvising streams of consciousness and tried to preserve them in a recording. “Heavy Crit” actually has the only non-improvised music track on the album. The track is from a song I had written and recorded before played in reverse. The track was called ‘Escaping Time Before Time Escapes’ by my band ‘The Scatter Plot’ recorded in 2014. ‘Heavy Crit’ is really the beginning of me poking fun at myself at how seriously I take my own art sometimes. ‘Escaping Time Before Time Escapes’ is one of the songs I recorded at the time that I was proud of so ‘Heavy Crit’ was the best way to take away the seriousness of the song by approaching it from a place of unnecessarily specific self critique and heavy-handed musical jargon that constantly haunted me and the music I recorded. ‘Inspired improv’ on the other hand was really the first time I recorded an improvised stream of consciousness that was based on an improvised musical track. These two songs really set the tone in my head for the rest of the experimenting that I wanted to do.
3. Who was your initial audience? How has it grown?
I really never had an audience in mind for this album. It is actually quite self serving, I wanted make it for myself. It is some unchartered territory for me to explore all of this so freely. I just would love to have people listen to it and feel the relaxed spur of the moment nature of it and let them enjoy a captured moment rather than a captured, controlled, and rehearsed performance. Beyond this the audience hasn’t grown at all, although I hope to change that moving forward.
4. What was the much alluded-to idea in question in the track, “Broken Elevator Pitch?”
There really isn’t an idea. Again, I just wanted to poke fun at how seriously I take my art sometimes. ‘Broken Elevator Pitch’ makes fun of the grandeur that I get swept away in when I get excited about a new art project idea I have. It also makes fun of my complete inability to do justice to my ideas when I am trying to explain them to others. It is very difficult for me to try to explain an idea that is swimming around in my head without sounding completely bonkers and drowned in my own knotted imagination. Hence the ‘Broken Elevator Pitch’.
5. What’s next? Will you be focusing more on one element of your act in particular, or will the next album have a similar breakdown to the last?
This new project is really confusing to me. Usually I am able to release a CD or a movie and it is easy to know what the next steps are, play shows, have screenings, etc. But in this case it is near to impossible for me to perform any of these tracks at a show. So really I am just working on gaining the courage to get on stage and improvise new material live on the spot. I have been performing practically my whole life, but I have never shown up to a show with zero prepared material. So I am looking to do that as well as to continue to record new improvised work. The most important thing to me is that the music stays fun and silly, and I am excited to see where the improvising takes me.