With some bands, you just know they’re going to change the world as we know it, and that’s especially true for Vakili Band. Every song they make has such a fierce, yet pensive, energy that’s bound to stick with you, and if you’re in the New York area, you can catch them playing at Rockwood Music Hall in Manhattan on April 27th, and at Lucy’s in Pleasantville, NY on May 11th!
“[Making a setlist is] a fun part of preparing for any gig,” frontwoman Lily Vakili tells TREMG. “It’s like reading a mood ring – what’s the vibe we want to make for people? What is the story we want to tell on that stage on that night? We’ll experiment – you know, we ask, start fast or slow? Begin with a ballad or a straight-out rocker?”
Vakili Band’s music is incredible enough on its own, but their live sets truly bring their art to the next level. Songs like “Facial Recognition Technology,” a riveting statement on the chaos in our world, take on a new life as the performances embody the lyrics about connection and harmony. Lines like “only reason I tolerate it all is loving you, peace and love and justice are where it’s at” are bound to resonate more than ever when they’re being sung to a live audience of people who bring their own unique experiences with them.
“It’s so gratifying when someone becomes a fan and lets us know about it,” Lily shares. “At our last gig, at Prohibition River Live in Nyack, the biggest thrill for us was two people jumping up, shouting and running out on the dance floor at the beginning of ‘Facial Recognition Technology.’ We were so charged by that.”
In following along with Vakili Band, you’re not just following along with a band – you’re following along with a dream and a refreshing hope for our collective future. When Lily sang “you’re the star this world is waiting for” on 2018’s “Oh Alright,” she was practically describing herself and her vision. Between her job as a biotech lawyer, advocating for people with disabilities to honor her autistic son, and her work with the band, she’s dreaming of a more loving, accepting world and taking the steps to create that reality.
“It’s been an incredible year of growth and learning for the band,” Lily reflects. “I think we, like so many, came through the pandemic with a deep sense of gratitude and with a renewed belief in our connection to each other. And, for the band, it really shows in the music we’re making together.”
Make sure to catch Vakili Band playing at Rockwood Music Hall in Manhattan on April 27th, or at Lucy’s in Pleasantville, NY on May 11th! You can also connect with the group on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and their official website. Keep reading for more from our conversation with frontwoman Lily Vakili!
Congratulations on your upcoming showcase at Rockwood Music Hall! What has it been like preparing for the show?
Hey – thank you! We’re really looking forward to playing that stage – the audience is up close and personal – and we like it that way.
Off the heels of your 2022 Walking Sideways album, you have so many incredible songs to choose from for this show! How do you pick the perfect setlist to perform?
It’s a fun part of preparing for any gig. It’s like reading a mood ring – what’s the vibe we want to make for people? What is the story we want to tell on that stage on that night? We’ll experiment – you know, we ask, start fast or slow? Begin with a ballad or a straight-out rocker?
Speaking of Walking Sideways, what has it been like for you to see how much fans have been loving the project? Is there a certain song you’ve grown to love even more since releasing it?
It’s so gratifying when someone becomes a fan and lets us know about it. At our last gig, at Prohibition River Live in Nyack, the biggest thrill for us was two people jumping up, shouting and running out on the dance floor at the beginning of “Facial Recognition Technology.” We were so charged by that.
I grow more fond of “She Wants What” each time we play it. That and “Father’s Son.” But don’t tell the other songs…
How does the feeling of playing live together for an audience differ from the feeling of playing in the studio while recording together?
It’s night and day. The studio feels much more technical, and it can be challenging to capture the energy and sense of unity that happens when playing live. Connecting with an audience is like nothing else. It’s an ancient practice and ritual. The studio is great for other reasons (posterity), but it’s not playing live.
Which of your songs are you most excited to play live at Rockwood?
I think of a performance like a song cycle – each song is part of the story being told that night, so each one is essential. That said – “Quiet Lover” is always a whole lot of fun to play in NYC – it’s kind of a love letter to the Big Apple.
Lily, in addition to being a killer musician and biotech lawyer, you’re a fierce advocate for people living with disabilities! What has it been like for you to balance so many amazing projects and use your platform for such an important cause?
My advocacy comes from a personal place – my son is autistic. I do what I do because I consider it essential to making it through the day. There are so many exceptional people with disabilities who advocate for themselves and for others – I have learned from them to be persistent, creative and collaborative. I hope that sharing my experience and projects helps others feel less alone in dealing with hard circumstances.
How do you feel you’ve grown as artists and as a band since releasing “Dreamy Dreamer” in 2021?
It’s been an incredible year of growth and learning for the band. I think we, like so many, came through the pandemic with a deep sense of gratitude and with a renewed belief in our connection to each other. And, for the band, it really shows in the music we’re making together.
For anyone who isn’t familiar with your music already, which of your songs would you recommend to them to get a feel for who you are as a group?
I’d select a trio: “Oh Alright”; “Father’s Son”; “Facial Recognition Technology.”
We at TREMG love getting to know new artists who haven’t gotten the success or attention they deserve. Who are some of your favorite underrated artists at the moment?
My friend, Stacia Thiel, is an excellent singer/songwriter – her song “Sunny Days” off her album Straight to the Middle is brilliant. Lucky for us, she’s playing an opening set at our May 11th show at The Garage at Lucy’s in Pleasantville, NY. Come hear the song live. You can thank me later.
What can your fans look forward to in the rest of 2023?
A new album!! We’re in the studio now mixing a batch of new songs that I’m so excited to get out into the world and take on tour. This song cycle is about love in all its wildness, loss, and wonder.
Is there anything else you’d like to mention or say to your fans that the questions didn’t touch on?
Just to say thank you for listening to our music & supporting the band – We can’t wait to share the new album with you. Come see us live; we’ll probably sneak preview a few of the tracks….Let us know what you think!