“Who am I as an artist? Who fucking knows? TBD!”
With those ten words, Lili K was able to give a snapshot into her career as a creative. A multihyphenate in an ever-changing landscape, Lili K is an artist who dreams of baking croissants and teaching music. Born Lillianna Kryzanek, Lili K (a name chosen due to a childhood nickname and people’s inability to say her last name) has always done music; from her time in grade school, where a teacher and gospel director advised her to direct her energy into her singing, through her academic career at Roosevelt Middle School for the Arts, Milwaukee High School for the Arts and Columbia College in Chicago.
It was in Chicago where Lili would attend jam sessions looking for partners, at the height of the ‘Blog Era’ in the Chicago music scene. Her genre-bending style heavily influenced by jazz, soul, Steely Dan, Motown, Hall & Oates, gospel, and neo-soul would lead Lili K to find her tribe of talented creatives that would soon make waves beyond the bounds of Chicago. Inspired by her two favorite vocalists, Ella Fitzgerald & Rachelle Ferrell, Lili believes that she wouldn’t be happy doing anything else but music, stating “I had a 9-to-5 as a copywriter and social media manager, but it made me miserable, so I decided to make life as a creative work for me”.
When asked about her first song, Lili recalls being 10 years old and making a song about missing her father called “Dun Dun Dun” (like the mystery sound effect). It would be just over a decade later that her big break with come with the release of her first album Ruby, which Lili self-produced. It led to her performing on the festival circuit and being the first Tidal Rising artist, allowing her to grow on a personal and professional level.
An ever-evolving creative who “loves to create with her friends and make shit”, Lili K doesn’t always find herself in a recording booth; sometimes she finds herself behind a lens. Low Strung is a comedic web series based in Chicago. Described as very black and very queer, the series is written by Victoria Lee & Shervin Bain, in which they play exaggerated, vexing versions of themselves. Lili was the Assistant Director for season 1 before sliding into the Director’s chair for season 2, an experience that reminded her she’d rather be behind the camera, than in front of it; “I’ve always written my own treatments and been hands-on with directing my music videos so it’s amazing being able to run a set. I just try to have fun and not fit into any particular box”.
When it comes to food, Lili’s tastes are as diverse as her artistry. Her favorite pizza topping is black olives, and she has a special relationship with cheesecake; so much so that she has Ms. cheesecake tattooed on her, a reference to the dessert and Paris is Burning, a 1990 film chronicling the ball culture of New York City. Her affinity for the pastry developed a few years ago when Lili decided to take up midnight baking to combat depression, a practice that led to a love of cheesecakes and pecan pie. She believes the process of baking to be a great way to be present and prove one can finish something.
“It’s good to feel accomplished and like you can complete something, and I believe cooking for people is a love language; It’s how I show my love. I recently made an Oreo cheesecake with a chocolate and caramel ganache” – Lili K
Speed round with Lili K
Che: What’s the last good meal you ate, and where was it from?
Lili K: I made myself Shakshuka the other day, pandemic style, from my kitchen, and it was healthy and fire.
Che: Who is someone that inspires you right now
Lili K: My mom! She keeps me going. I talk to her ten times a day. Also, she has a vintage page people should follow @trikobronjio
Che: Swizz Beatz and Timbaland hit you to do the next Verzuz, who do you want to see?
Lili K: Who did chicken noodle soup?
Che: DJ Webstar and Young B
Lili K: Them against me. Oh, wait? Not against me? Then I’d want to see India Arie v. Musiq Soulchild or Tank v. Rudy Currence, but they can only do their runs
Che: If you could have someone produce an entire project for you who would it be?
Lili K: Salaam Remi cause he’s fire. He produced for Amy Winehouse and The Fugees; I’d gain a lot from that
Che: As a musician and director, what’s one music video set you wish you were on?
Lili K: Thug Luv - Bobby Brown and Ja Rule
Che: Any exciting events or projects?
Lili K: The Collective I’m in is called Flowers for the Living, and it’s lead by Harold Green. We have a 10-piece band, and we’ve been doing live shows and cover songs, so we’re releasing our debut studio album in 2021 called Bouquet of Beautiful. Our 2nd single, ‘When’, came out and features Peter Jericho, Harold, and me. It’s an amazing body of work, it's sequenced so well, and there’s so much love in the collective and well just fan out over each other. The video for 'When' is also out now (Watch it here)