Cosmic electro pop duo LILIES on M∆RS – the exciting project by multi-instrumentalist musicians and producers Lisa Masia and Marina Cristofalo – open up about about their collaborations with Franco Battiato and Christian Fennesz, their hypnotic live shows and the music scene in Sardinia…

The fascinating video to accompany psychedelic dance gem ‘Dancing Star’, was directed by Francesco Poli, who developed a system inspired by the Rutt–Etra–Izer machine, which utilizes the same synthesizer used to record the song. This transforms the duo’s movements and silhouettes into waves, creating a unique musical and visual synthesis…

‘Dancing Star and ‘Stealing’ are taken from their impressive album ‘∆GO’, out now via Lady Sometimes Records/Cargo.

First up, why did you call your project LILIES on M∆RS?

Since the beginning of the project, when listening to the first sounds from our recordings, we felt our music had some sort of cosmic feel. What we were creating served as a way to evade reality and project ourselves into a different space. The name resonates with what we were and still are doing.

Can you describe LILIES on M∆RS’ ethos in 5 words?

Cosmic, dreamy, visionary, psychoactive, mind-altering.

What can you learn from artists like Franco Battiato and Christian Fennesz?

It was an honour and privilege for us to have collaborated with artists such as Battiato and Fennesz. We owe most of what we are to Battiato. We used to play guitar in his band for two years before Lilies on Mars and had the chance to view how he worked from the inside. LILIES on M∆RS battiatoHe’s been the mentor of the project, and once he said ‘I think you girls should start something new together’. He saw it even before us, at first we weren’t thinking about it but when we came back home from the first leg of the tour we started writing new music together. We were full of inspiration and breathing new energy, it certainly had to come out somehow and the channel was Lilies on Mars. Collaborations are vital for us, they are always challenging and make you ponder and understand new elements of creativity, it can only develop into something positive.

Can you talk about your new album ‘∆GO’?

We started writing the songs for ∆GO after coming back from an extensive tour in Europe and the USA last year supporting Fanfarlo, where we were promoting our previous record ‘Dot To Dot’. A few tracks were conceived during the tour and we felt the need to lock ourselves in the studio and start working on them very spontaneously. We were really inspired by all the experiences during the tour, waking up in new cities every day and spending time with very talented musicians, we learnt a lot.

In terms of production and songwriting, ∆GO is the continuation of Dot To Dot. We used very similar equipment (though we added new synths and used less guitar), while the discovery of new sounds again provided the sparks for new songs. Composing is a journey for us, we don’t write songs acoustically, we let the sound indicate an unexplored route and we go with the flow. There are 9 tracks on the record and they all have very different atmospheres, some are uplifting with a pop twist like Dancing Star, It Might Be and Stealing and others more trippy and experimental like Rachel Walks By The Sea, Midnight Fall and I’ve Got You.

What were your influences whilst writing it?

We’ve been listening to a lot of early electronic music from the 50s and 60s, especially Delia Derbyshire and Daphne Oram from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. These two women are a huge inspiration for us and while we use very different recording equipment nowadays we still feel very close to them, because the concept remains the same, starting with a sound and manipulating it to create new ones.

What are your dreams and goals?

Above all, we really like the process of making music, our goal is to carry on and do what we love, keep writing, recording, performing and developing as song writers and producers. We want to keep contributing.

What’s the music scene like in Italy?

There’s a lot of interesting music going on in Italy at the moment and we are very happy that finally some indie artists are getting recognition worldwide. More Italian record labels should invest energies on getting their artists known abroad, it’s very important. Most people have no clue of what’s going on in Italy or have the wrong idea. At the moment we are digging a band called Dumbo Gets Mad, great if you are in to psych funk. There’s some really good music in Sardinia too, like our friends Diverting Duo, if you like dream pop/dark wave.

Who are your musical and non-musical influences?

As mentioned above, Delia Derbyshire and Daphne Oram are both a huge influence along with psychedelic bands like Broadcast, Stereolab and Pram. A non-musical influence is Alejandro Jodorowsky. We had the chance of meeting him in person and to talk to him during the filming of Battiato’s movie ‘Niente è Come Sembra’. That was an incredible experience, he’s such a legend but a very humble person, we are in to everything he’s done, from his movies to his books and theories.

Are you planning any live shows and what will they be like?

We’ve already started touring for this record and will be on the road for the rest of the year and the new year too. We are coming back to play in the UK in February where will play a show in London at Rough Trade East and there are more dates to be announced!

What’s coming next for you?

We are releasing ∆GO on vinyl on February 26th with a few extra tracks including a PHD cover of ‘I Won’t Let You Down’.

By Fabrizio Belluschi ©