Lilla Vargen is someone you should be keeping tabs on.
The artist has just booked herself a spot touring around Europe with the one and only Dermot Kennedy, and is set to support him in Dublin’s 3Arena on December 22 and 23.
Lilla couldn’t have been launched into a better fan base than Kennedy’s. In my experience, the crowds at his gigs are invested in soulful music with great lyrics, which is what she provides.
Chatting over the phone while she’s on route to Sweden, Lilla’s bursting with excitement as she tells me about how the audiences around Europe have been responding to her so far, as well as the gig she’s playing in Whelan‘s tonight.
“I still can’t believe it’s happening, it’s only really sinking in now. It’s been mad, the crowd seem to absolutely love it,” Lilla says in her sweet Northern accent.
The Antrim native has been making waves in the Irish music scene since 2017, but people really started to notice her in 2018 when her song Hold On was released.
The singer-songwriter’s EP, We Were Thunder, is set for release on Friday, November 29. It includes the singles: Why Wait, Solitary and three new songs, On My Mind, The Shore and Trouble.
Lilla’s goal is to highlight the importance of human connection through her music. She uses soaring lyrics against delicate melodies to discuss the troubles in her own life – and you can’t help but put yourself in the framework of her songs.
“The kind of goal I have with my music is, yes, it means something specific to me, but I want people to be able to relate to it. Every song on the EP is about that time in my life. For me, what’s great about it is, you could listen to a song which was written by Joni Mitchell or whatever, but you can still relate to it in your own life.”
Lilla tells me about the heartache of a previous toxic relationship which inspired these songs and how that time was monumental to her life and career.
“It was the chapter that changed my life completely, that was the time when I realised that everything I was focusing on, was wrong. I was allowing someone else to dictate who I could and couldn’t be.”
Solitary, which is one of my favourite of the tracks, speaks about loneliness in our society and how we need to bring light to this area.
“It’s quite an emotional song for me. It’s loneliness I felt so many times, with different people. It’s me just saying, like, no matter what I do, what I say or how hard I try, I still feel alone. It’s good for people to know that people are alone sometimes and feel alone even though they may not be.
“Everyone is so obsessed with being heard and being seen, you know, getting this attention online or whatever, but it’s actually not real and nobody really cares.”
Earlier this year, Lilla made an equally powerful statement when it came to the housing crisis with the video for Why Wait, which was directed by her friend TJ. It’s a moving video showcasing the reality of homelessness in Dublin, and the complexities of the emergency accommodation situation.
“I absolutely love that video so much, I think that it just highlights perfectly you know what’s been going on in Dublin. I know it’s highlighting specifically Dublin, but it goes on everywhere. There have been so many conversations since its release – that was the goal, to try and create something that would start up conversations so that it wouldn’t become such a taboo subject.”
Lilla will be back in the capital to support Dermot Kennedy next month – anyone with tickets to that gig should make sure to get there early to see her set. She has also supported the likes of Lisa Hannigan and James Bay, alongside playing festivals in 2018 like Body and Soul, Forbidden Fruit, The Great Escape, Live at Leeds, Latitude and more in the UK.
That trajectory began when her cover of Downtown by Majical Cloudz, premiered on BBC Radio 1 and Majestic Casual, and quickly gained her fans online. It’s now hit almost 8 million streams.
That song changed her career, and she encourages other aspiring artists to jump at the opportunities they are given.
“If anybody is wanting to do this, but is too scared what I would say is ‘get going’. There are so many little small things in between, inconsequential things that you wouldn’t think matter. Then, when you look back, you’re like: ‘If I hadn’t been at that place at that right time or if I hadn’t met that person things would be extremely different now.’
“You can’t expect the luck to come to you, you have to be looking for it – and I learned that quite early on.
Lilla is playing Whelan’s tonight and there are still tickets available, you can grab them here.