Lily Lizotte is happy. The musician, who writes and performs as The Blossom, is sitting on their friend’s porch in San Francisco with a cup of tea, watching the world go by on a well-deserved day off. But as they admit, it’s been a long road to figuring out how to enjoy this kind of peaceful scene.
“Having chronic anxiety—and being anxious all the time—my personality leads towards the more excited, adrenaline side,” they say, the sounds of the city evident across our phone connection. “So if I do fall into really bad bouts of anxiety, I’ll go through a manic stage before dropping low. I kind of have tried to be aware of how anxiety can be a tool to lean into the more exciting side of life.”
Their debut EP, “97 Blossom” (out now on Brockhampton’s Video Store label) harnesses that energy. A frenetic mash note to the brash, sk8er boi pop of the 1990s, “97 Blossom” skitters between bubble gum beats, rap, grunge, and even the kind of guitar folk that wouldn’t sound out of place at a Lilith Fair reboot.
Lizotte notes that after years of co-writing and topline work, they’re a natural collaborator. However, it was linking up with Rick Rubin’s Shangri-La studios, which actively works to connect artists, including Brockhampton’s Matt Champion, that allowed their vision to fully bloom. (Lizotte notes that the close-knit community was regularly tested to mitigate COVID risk.)
It also gave them the comfort needed to flesh out barbed tracks, including album highlight “Shapeshifter,” where against an anthemic beat they sing, “I can be so gay / I can be anywhere any kind of way / I hate the normal life / Give me the other side / I want to fantasize / I don’t need the alkaline.” It’s just one moment in a line of revealing lyrics, but as Lizotte clarifies, they’ve always been open to discussing the hard stuff. And after living through the uncertainty of the last 15 months, they’re ready to ramp up the emotional intimacy.
“I think that this year, the light kind of switched on, and I kind of want to do more of it,” they say. “Once you reach out a little bit further, lyrics can be a little bit more hyper-descriptive or divulge a little bit more. You find more! You can wrap things that you're feeling in poetic disguise. At the moment, I'm really interested in using like dark humor in my lyrical content. So, I'm getting deeper and deeper, and also I'm just getting better as a writer.”
But comfort takes some digging to get there. Today, Lizotte is proud to be part of the LGBTQIA+ community. However, growing up gender queer, it took time for language to evolve enough to describe what they knew intrinsically. That often resulted in a limited social circle.
“I felt really weighted down and constrained,” Lizotte says. “I definitely carried a lot of turmoil about gender. I think it wasn't until conversations started happening with kids and with friends and stuff and the more I read, the more I was like, it’s like this. [Before], what I felt at home was never reflected in society.”
The idea of home keeps coming up in our conversation. After living in Los Angeles and New York, and making regular trips back home to Australia (“We’re upside-down!” they crack), a fixed concept of home is hard to come by. Instead, they prefer to discuss the people who make each place special, like family. (Their father is even a contributing musician on the release, which Lizotte chalks up to a shared music love language.) Their family’s support has been crucial as Lizotte progresses in the industry—something that’s not lost on them.
“The majority of trans and LGBTQ+ kids and people, they don't have that,” they say. “So it’s really a function of how the LGBTQ+ community operates outside of home. And at home, [support] is really really crucial.”
As we conclude a month that has become known for rainbow washing (promoting the LGBTQIA+ community without supporting them in the long run), extending that circle of comfort is Lizotte’s greatest hope. Yes, they can’t wait to play shows and share “97 Blossom” with fans. But increased visibility isn’t enough—to have a seat at the table, the LGBTQIA+ community needs to be protected.
“I feel like we can't have visibility of the LGBTQIA+ community without having protection for the community as well. And I think it is important to be aware of the internet, and the echo chambers, and corporations that are being opportunistic [to capitalize] on a community's identity…protection needs to come with that conversation. People need to be told that they're not alone and that they have support—not only be told, but need to be shown and provided for.”