Get To Know – Lila Tristram

We Say…

Photos by Paulina Korobkiewicz

Based out of East London, Lila Tristram is a musician, fiction writer, artist and teacher. Lila first appeared back in 2020, with the release of the sister EPs, Our Friends Part I & II, co-released via wiaiwya (UK) and Inpartmaint Inc (Japan). The records were followed by 2022’s Black and White Memories Ignited by the Scent of Springtime Explode in Colour, a collaboration with The Last Dinosaur’s Jamie Cameron. 2023 has seen a series of single releases, now brought together by wiaiwya into Lila’s six-track EP, Home, as you may have guessed from the title, a series of home recordings Lila self-produced during the pandemic.

The album opens with the fittingly titled starting place, January. The track opens with an electronic murmur, an almost aimless soundwave in search of a destination that it never finds, it’s quickly joined by a subtle swell of organic textures, first bird song, then an almost absent-minded plucking of banjo, and finally the propulsive contemplation of the acoustic guitar. It’s a beautiful introduction to a record that never feels hurried or dramatic, a collection of thoughtfulness from a time when the world was an insecure blur. From there the record slides into the wonderful Caravan, reminiscent of Naima Bock’s song of the same name, as fluttering acoustics are joined by elegant, subtle woodwind, Lila’s lyrics seem to be searching for a form of guidance, be it human or spiritual, “you saw the king in his caravan, I saw the man live again”. The EP’s centre-piece, Shelter, is probably also its sweetest sentiment, it’s a song of desired caring, of wanting to be there for a friend whenever they need you the most, as atop an Iron & Wine like acoustic-shuffle, Lila sings, “the wind it howls ’round your house and I want to come and shout, and the waves are crashing ’round your mouth and I want to come and calm them down”. Circles II comes and goes in a blur of twitching organs and hazy atmospherics before the record reaches its close on the title track, Home. Home is a song of comfort, of old habits conflicting with a natural desire to always move forward, “he will take me out, he’ll make me feel good, but you are in every part, and you are coming home”. It serves as a neat bookend to the record as a whole, which doesn’t deal in grand moments, but quiet thoughts, this is a record of puzzle pieces being placed together to reveal the full picture, or at least to be working towards it. Perhaps Home doesn’t have the answers Lila Tristram needs, but it has the ones she has been kind enough to share, always moving forward, always heading home and in its own quiet way, really rather wonderful.

They Say…

FTR: For those who don’t know who is Lila Tristram?

Having stared into space for about 5 minutes now getting existential, I’ve decided that this is a great question, and probably one I’m not best placed to answer. 

Let’s see.. I am a musician, fiction writer, artist and teacher based in East London. I grew up in London and then Devon, and returned to London as soon as I could when I was 18. I studied classical music at Goldsmiths University, which was an interesting choice as I never had any intention of being a classical musician. There I began songwriting, performing and recording my own music, and I wrote my first record, Our Friends. It was a nod to my anemoia for the folk revival era, and the start of my journey as a singer-songwriter. 

In the subsequent years I’ve been continuing to challenge myself creatively, working with other artists, experimenting and developing my sound. I’ve been writing and recording a lot, both at home and in the studio. I feel as though I am just on the cusp of blooming, preparing to release the music which I have been working on for what feels like a really long time.

FTR: What can you remember about your first show?

Haha, ah. My room in student halls wasn’t big enough to fit a keyboard (piano was my first instrument and love). I had the urge to write a song, and my solution was to buy a guitar. So, having never played a guitar before, I went to Wunjos on Denmark Street, bought one and wrote a song. Then I was ready to hit the stage (!) 

I seem to have a pattern of getting myself far, far out of my depth, and this was a perfect example. I went to a local pub which put on folk nights, and managed to persuade the manager there to give me a support slot at their next gig. I quickly learned a couple of folk songs to bolster up my one-song-set, and set out to make my mark in the London live music community. 

I arrived and set up. *I’m nailing it* I thought to myself *they all think I’m legit*.

My first song was in an alternate tuning which I had made up myself. However, knowing nothing remotely about guitars or how they work, what I failed to realise was that there was a reason that most alt tunings don’t stray too far from EADGBE. As I cranked up the B string several tones above what it was used to, of course it snapped. Fortunately, I had a spare set of strings. Unfortunately, I had no idea how to fit them.

Happily, a fellow musician rose to my rescue and offered that I play his guitar, which happened to be the largest instrument I have ever seen. I could hardly fit my hands around its ginormous fretboard. Fortunately it seemed happy to be forced into my uncomfortable tuning. Convinced that the whole thing was a right off, I became very relaxed and managed to get into the zone. Me and my frighteningly large companion.

Following the gig, I distinctly remember a gentleman coming up to me and saying, “You have such a unique way of playing the guitar! I’ve never seen anything like it. Truly incredible.

FTR: Why do you make music? Why not another art form?

Music has an ability to move the heart so quickly. It’s unlike any other medium in that way. It can bring you to the point of tears within seconds. Music’s ability to tell stories (with and without words) never fails to astonish me. The older I get, the more I learn, the more appreciative of it I become.

FTR: What can people expect from the Lila Tristram live show?

I often feel that I have to warn people, if there’s any “vibe” going on right now, I’m probably about to destroy it. I believe that the way to make a great performance is by really sinking into the song, almost like a meditation. Being inside the music. I try to explain to people that if you’re in the song, then your audience will be too, you can kind of hold their hands and take them on a journey in that way. However, I think all this means that my performances tend to be fairly intense.

FTR: What’s next for Lila Tristram?

I am on the cusp of releasing an EP entitled Home. It’s one I wrote, recorded, performed and engineered myself at home during the pandemic.

I have also been working hard on another project in the studio.. you’ll have to keep an ear out for that one. 

They Listen To…

Photos by Paulina Korobkiewicz

Adrianne Lenker – ingydar

Joni Mitchell – Hejira

Ailsa Tully – Your Mess

Hailaker, Lowswimmer, Jemima Coulter – Labradors

Cross Record – Y/o Dragon

Home is out now via WIAIWYA. For more information on Lila Tristram visit

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