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Being ‘Hardcore Happy’: In conversation with ‘The Blossom’

Lily Lizotte discusses their newest EP.

“The things that move us the most have duality,” says Lily Lizotte. “Lately I’ve been treating joy and pain as the same thing.”

97 Blossom, the EP by 23-year-old American-Australian artist Lily Lizotte affirms just that. Released in early April, the EP marries elements of indie pop, hip-hop and 90s grunge in a smoky, steel-edged daydream. These days Lizotte goes by ‘The Blossom’, an artist identity they describe as an “genderless and expansive space.” Their prior singles have amassed praise from triple-j, Milk, and i-D, amongst others.

The Blossom’s six new tracks are lucid fragments of introspection, windows into the artist which splinter the closer you look.

“As a POC non-binary person… I definitely struggle with projection of my insecurities or [the] anger that I have,” they say.

“I guess [the EP] is really an amalgamation of all these different facets of my past.”

‘Shapeshifter’, the third track on 97 Blossom, begins: “I can be anything, no matter who’s around, the fire burning at my feet ain’t burning me out. I can be they, I can be so gay, I can be anywhere any kind of way.” Lizotte’s sweet, spunky tone rides above muted electric guitar and drums, reminiscent of early 2000s Avril Lavigne or Hailey Williams.

“That track is definitely about me,” Lizotte says. “It’s definitely talking about my gender, my sexuality, about… how I feel like I’m always evolving. And sometimes that can be really painful and really uncomfortable.”

In contrast, ‘Hardcore Happy’ explores coming to terms with yearning, desire, and “the anxiety of just wanting to be happy.” The song opens with a warm, electro-acoustic soundscape and heavy vocal reverb. “All I want, yeah, I want hardcore (hardcore happy),” sings Lizotte. Lizotte also doesn’t shy away from writing about where it hurts: the song ‘Black Eye’ alludes to violence, abuse and insecurity.

Just after Lizotte moved to Los Angeles a year and a half ago, COVID-19 hit. Lizotte was stuck in a new city just as borders closed, and they had to decide whether to return home or stay. “Obviously it was a hard decision to make, because I missed my family. But it was the best decision I made,” they say. During 2020, Lizotte wrote songs with various LA musicians while in lockdown, eventually developing a friendship with the group Brockhampton over 2020.

In fact, members Kevin Abstract, Matt Champion, Romil and Jabari all participated in the creation of 97 Blossom.

“We got connected through a common friend,” Lizotte explains. “Romil pulled up the beat and we just like started riding on it. Then they said, ‘we don’t want to pressure you into anything, but we really want to be a part of this.’ And I couldn’t say no, because I just felt like that was such a natural connection between us.”

Beyond the feat of working with Brockhampton, each track on 97 Blossom already has well over 100,000 plays on Spotify. For an artist who’s oeuvre last year consisted of just a few singles, Lizotte has the sonic vision of someone far more experienced — but perhaps that’s not surprising. After all, the music industry is nothing new for them.

Their father, Mark Lizotte, is well-known American-Australian singer-songwriter Johnny Diesel. He actually recorded all the guitar parts in Lizotte’s EP in Australia and sent them over to LA during the pandemic, they tell me. “[Dad’s] work life and his career and his music was symbiotic with our family life.”

“I think from three to four, I remember just listening to my dad record and write from his home studio… So I really grew up with it as like, okay, that’s what you do. You make music. And then you go on tour, you record in the studio. I was fortunate enough to see that as a career and a life choice really early on.”

In fact, when I call them to chat, it is 11:00pm in LA, and they have just returned from a full day in the studio.

“Growing up, I used to always play in my dad’s band and do BVS [backing vocals]… like my cousin would be like: ‘All right, it’s your turn, now get up.’”

Apart from their family, Lizotte’s sonic and aesthetic influences are diverse. When I ask who they’re most inspired by, they mention rap/trap artists like Baby Keem, Young Thug, and Playboy Carti, as well as Indie-pop, rock, and older bands like the Smashing Pumpkins, the Pixies, and the Smiths.

“I listen to everything, but I do listen to certain stuff when I’m working on my project, because I’m trying to pull those influences and references out and then re-imagine them and recontextualize [them].”

One glimpse at their Instagram feed also reveals a collage of different aesthetics, the dominant one right now being high-saturation, a red-and-blue palette, graffiti letters, fairy-floss streaks, and formal-wear paired with street style. This is similarly potent in the Shapeshifter MV.

“[My style] is a mish-mash of everything, where it’s kind of like this harmonious chaos. I have a lot of influence from different subcultures, like skate culture and street culture. I’m really inspired by Japanese street fashion mags or Fruits Magazine… I love a lot of vintage streetwear stuff [too]… brands like Vivienne Westwood and Jean Paul Gaultier.”

So what is next for Lily Lizotte, aka The Blossom?

Lizotte explains they have a couple of singles coming out “here and there”, followed by a new project collaborating with their artist-friends including Brockhampton. They’re also keen to tour if it’s possible, but right now they’re happy to not have the pressure of preparing for shows. Pushing the envelope for Asian-American pop artists is also important to them, as a half-Thai individual. “I can maybe name three or four Asian music artists in the Western industry that I like, that I guess are revered on a commercial wider scale.”

“I feel really lucky generationally that I have a community of younger artists [like myself]… that we get to just be ourselves.”

The Blossom’s new EP 97 Blossom is available on Spotify, Apple Music and iTunes now.

This article was updated 4/5/2021 at 7:15pm.