Lily Fawn is a musician and performer from Victoria, B.C. She plays various instruments, most notably the singing saw, with various bands including Hank & Lily, MeatDraw and Deer Legs, and she has recently released a solo album with Lily’s Lullaby Band entitled Brightest Darkest. Lily does not play the character of Lily Fawn; she is Lily Fawn. The antlers that adorn her head during live performances sit as naturally as spots on a baby deer’s back. Discorder photographer Robert Fougere interviewed Lily via email as she prepares for a European tour, kicking off with a 10 year anniversary party for Hank & Lily’s European record label (www.labelman.be) and a tour of Belgium with Black Heart Procession.
Discorder: Can we tell people your real name?
Lily Fawn: Lily Fawn…
D: Is it normal for female deers to have antlers?
LF: Both male and female reindeer [caribou] have antlers. The female retains her antlers during the winter and males do not. This gives women a higher status in the herd during winter so she can beat up the male if he eats too much of the food. Which is a good thing ‘cause boys always drink all the juice and eat all the cereal! Lady caribou historically lose their antlers after a special event like childbirth. I have rejected this sexist stereotype, but still lose my antlers periodically. It usually happens if I have been crying. A few days later, my antlers fall off. With the help of yoga, magic and proper diet I think I can learn to control my rutting. This way I can take my antlers on and off whenever I please.
D: Would you recommend playing your new album for children? Some of the lyrics are really dark.
LF: Yup—I don’t have any children of my own but I already have some young kiddies and baby fans. A friend of mine says that her kids roll around on the floor and listen to my album all the time. “They love it,” she says. I have also played a few of the songs at a kids’ show for the Fringe Festival [in Montreal] and it went over very well. I guess all the balloons and the guy in the dancing bear costume helped a little.
D: How long have you been playing the singing saw? Would you care to describe your first musical saw experience?
LF: About seven years ago I was walking through the woods one day and I swung my saw at a tree. But instead of cutting the tree it bounced off, making this amazing, haunting, yet beautiful sound. The most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard. I knew right then and there that I had finally found my voice. Than I started playing it when I was the drummer in a band called Blue Pine (now called Frog Eyes).
D: How do you find living on the island influences your music?
LF: The locals call it Fantasy Island. Aptly named, the island is a place where I feel free to compose according to my fantasies. Plus, the regular cowboy/hippy jams are suited to my improvisatory nature. When I am writing songs at home on Fantasy Island, I am in another world. Check out the Hank Pine & Lily Fawn comic book!
D: Magic and fantasy, and now lullabies and dreams seem to play a really big role in your work. What sorts of things do you dream about?
LF: Some dreams I just can’t tell you about, I can’t tell anyone. But one that I can tell you happened just last night. I dreamt that someone ate my stash of chocolate bars and Belgian beer. I woke up very thirsty and a little miffed. Maybe I am excited for my upcoming tour of Europe that starts Nov. 25.
D: Wow that’s exciting. Who are you playing with over there?
LF: Hank Pine and I are planning to perform some new songs, and some songs off our North America album as a two-piece. This tour is fairly short, but we hope to make the next one longer. It is so lovely there. We will be playing in Holland and Belgium, the land of chocolate and beer. The dates and venues are listed on our website main page: www.hankandlily.com.
D: So, I’ve heard Lily Fawn has a thing for babies. What attracts you to the babies? Who or what are you saving them from?
LF: The babies? Well, who wouldn’t want one? I mean, they are just so soft and cute and squishy! Hank Pine says that I shouldn’t talk to people about my baby stealing. In fact, he says that I shouldn’t steal babies anymore, but I know of a better place for the babies and they want to come with me, too. They tell me so, when they are sleeping.
D: Heavy. How did you and Hank meet?
LF: We were both running from the same things, in the same direction, for different reasons. We were headed to New Orleans, and five years later, are still trying to get there. Musically, I love playing with Hank Pine. I am so lucky we found each other when we did.
D: Why does Hank choose to keep his identity secret?
LF: Hank is a renegade assassin, on the run from the Avatars of the Second Sun cult, as well at the cops. Not only that, but any guy who carries his dead girlfriend around in a garbage bag probably has some other good reasons for keeping his identity under wraps.
D: Are there any special bucks that like to hang around your forest cabin, Kissin’ Tell?
LF: No bucks, but I have my eye on a weasel.
D: “Pigeon is a Dirty Bird” is such a great title for a beautiful song. What inspired it?
LF: Pigeons, like many other birds, fall in love and mate for life. In this case, we can’t help these birds. Love is dirty, murderous and forever. That song was written by Dave Wenger of Daddy’s Hands.
D: Do you have a special connection with animals?
LF: Yes. Benjamin Bunny is the only one I can really talk to. I feel like he is the only one who really understands me. However, just yesterday, I caught Mr. Raccoon stealing cookies from my secret cookie hiding spot even though he knew that those were for the tea party.
D: Does your drummer, Benjamin Bunny, play with some other bands?
LF: Yes! Benjamin Bunny gets around. He is so good at thumping on those drums. He is also playing in Frog Eyes and Chet. What a busy bunny.
D: The piano track on “Animals Grow Horns” is amazing, who laid that down?
LF: Yes she is amazing—glad you asked. That is Susan Farmer tinkling those ivories.
D: Do you have any other projects on the go? How are the musical saw workshops going?
LF: The workshops are going great, however, finding serious students is harder than I thought it would be. I am surprised that not everyone is as charmed by the singing saw as I am. I guess it might be another thing to add to a list of oddities under the heading “Lily Fawn.” Plus, on occasion, I do a Siamese twin act with my friend Fibula (acoustic sea shanties about going to Hell and wishing wells, etc.). While attached at the hip, we are called Deer Legs. It is rare to catch a performance, but if you do get the chance I hope you wouldn’t miss it.
D: Where can people buy your new album?
LF: Oh, thanks for asking. You can buy my albums from CD Baby or on my website—
D: Thanks a lot Lily! Have fun in Europe!