Girl’s got jazz

By Contributing Writer

by Tyler McDermott

Contributing Writer

Lili Kryzanek, better known as Lili K, is far from your average blonde bombshell. Using people, places and relationships as her inspiration, this Columbia junior in the Arts, Entertainment & Media Arts Department penned her first song at 10 years old. Since then, she has developed an extensive catalogue of music, including her unreleased LP, “Hello, Goodbye,” and her EP with Peter Cottontale, “A Prelude to Hello,” released last summer.

Armed with both a jazz personality and a soul mentality, this 20-year-old songbird has managed to create a buzz for herself throughout the Midwest, allowing her to open for artists such as The Cool Kids and Dwele, as well as play at venues including Metro, 3730 N. Clark St., and soon, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee Ave. Determined to live what she loves, Lili K plans to continue performing with her band, The Secret Garden, release her new EP, “Metal Petals,” and keep sharing her music with others.

The Chronicle sat down with Lili K to talk about her influences, her band, the loyalty of her fans and her plans for the future.

The Chronicle: You moved around a lot in your life but primarily grew up in Milwaukee, Wis. How did your environment inspire your music?

Lili K: I moved back to Milwaukee with my mother in sixth grade, and I pretty much stayed there until I graduated high school. I went to school at Milwaukee High School of the Arts. It was in the inner city of Milwaukee, so you see the struggle [and] the stuff people go through. You see how the arts and kids are so neglected. It’s tough to see, but, at the same time, it’s inspiration for material to write about and things to grasp at.

The Chronicle: How did your EP, “A Prelude to Hello,” come about?

LK: I met Peter Cottontale, the composer and songwriting partner I work with, in March of 2010. We began writing after one of my best friends passed away. I knew Peter was a piano player, so I asked if he could help me write a song. He did; then we decided to write an entire album called “Hello, Goodbye.” It’s finished, but we just never released it. I didn’t want to give it away for free. We decided if we wanted to sell this, we’d have to give some stuff away for free. “Hello, Goodbye” is a relationship album from beginning to end, and “A Prelude to Hello” is the preview to the album. It’s the end of one relationship and meeting someone new. “Hello, Goodbye” is the story of that new relationship.

The Chronicle: Tell us about your band, The Secret Garden.

LK: The Secret Garden is named after a Minnie Riperton EP entitled “The Secret Garden.” We were going off of my name since it’s a flower itself. The Secret Garden is comprised of Peter Cottontale, who is the composer, producer and plays keys in the band, and Eris “BoxxxBoy” Campbell, who is my bass player and who I’ve known since high school. His energy is beautiful. Russel Grady is my drummer. He and Peter went to school together. He’s the father in the group. Britney “B-Free” Freeman is my other singer. She does background for me, and she plays the flute. She’s freaking amazing! I went to high school with her as well. I looked up to her in high school, and now I have the opportunity to work with her.

The Chronicle: Where do you see yourself in five years?

LK: Touring the world. That’s what I would love to do. I want to expand my fan base. I don’t want to be a crazy celebrity. I just want to be able to have a substantial fan base that will allow me to tour worldwide, even if it’s at jazz festivals. I want to see the world. I want to share my music with people. I don’t care about being rich and famous; I just want to make a comfortable living.

Lili K and The Secret Garden are performing at Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee Ave., on March 23. Tickets are $15 and are available for purchase on Lili K’s website. She will also be featured this spring on Columbia College Chicago AEMMP Records’ “Class President” EP. For more information on Lili K, visit