Lili K

On Chicago, Chance The Rapper, and Costa Rican Weddings


Who: Lili K, Indie Vocalist, Feminist, Free Spirit


Why She’s Foxy: Daughter of Milwaukee-born Motown parents turned stand out solo artist and backup singer to Chance The Rapper, she’s taking the American jazz world by storm one soulful harmony at a time.


On Growing Up: "I’m from Milwaukee but Chicago's always been like a second home to me. I lived there for a few years when I was a little kid, then I moved back in 2009 for Columbia College where I got a scholarship for Music Business — more contract and legal stuff. My parents were actually in a Motown cover band. In elementary school there was a choir teacher who would come once a week to teach, so I started going to church with him. It was always music, music, music. I went to Roosevelt Creative Arts Middle School and Milwaukee High School of The Arts. My teachers really encouraged me to get serious about it. My music style is a mix of jazz, soul, rock and funk.”


Before Music: “As an indie musician, most of us have day jobs. Music has been officially full time for me for about a year now. But when I did my first album, I was working at a marketing and ad agency doing copywriting. When I was done at five PM,  I would go to the studio or go to a radio interview. I was running off of like two to three hours of sleep a night for a year and it was really unhealthy.  After the album was finished, we got a decent amount of press and shows started being booked.  I actually got fired from my day job because I wasn't there enough.  It forced me to focus harder on my music and I started teaching full on vocal production and voice coaching. It’s really fun working with up and coming artists who are really hungry. Before my first album, I did more collaborative work with people like Vic Mensa and Chance The Rapper but I was kind of known as “The Hook Girl” of Chicago, but I always wanted live instruments and a full band.  I’ve played huge headlining festivals like Lollapalooza as a background singer but It was an even better feeling to have an opening slot at Northcoast, just me and my band. There’s five of us—I have a guitar player, a drummer, bass player, and a keyboard player.”

On Chance The Rapper: “Chance and I met through this mixtape that Columbia College in Chicago was doing. We were both supposed to be on it and even though he ended up not doing it,  he just hit me up one night to do vocals on the song “Hey Ma” from his tenday mixtape.  Then I started touring with him so I did a lot of his earlier tour dates. I also did a few songs on his second mixtape, Acid Rap.


On Writing an Album: “It's more of an introspection period. I become a hermit and get centered. There’s definitely a moment where it shifts. I have to get present and do interviews and talk about it.  That’s where I am right now— my new album Planet of Flowers is coming out this year.  It’s much more mature than Ruby.  We’ve grown up a lot!”


On Her Fiance: “We met in Chicago’s music scene — he's also a musician but we’re totally different so we get to balance eachother out. Its nice to be with someone who's in the industry because they understand it. If someone doesn't understand, there can be a lot of jealousy and insecurity.  I'm around men constantly so there can be issues, but he’s the most laid back, trusting, cool guy. He’s definitely helped calm me and keep me centered.”


Dream Day: “Either go to the studio or play a show. I’d have a beautiful brunch and play with some puppies at some point. I’d end the day on the couch or in a nice hotel with my fiance watching The Office.”


Fave Love Song: “I really like ‘I’m Kissing You’ by Des’ree.  There’s this one chord change in it that makes me tear up. A lot of the jazz standards are great too.  ‘My Funny Valentine’ is a weird one but it’s one of my favorite songs to sing.”


Fave Love Movie: “‘The Notebook’ makes me cry every time.”


Fantasy Wedding:  “Solange and Idris Elba. It would be in Costa Rica and we’d all go zip lining. I’d bring my fiance as my date and wear a right vibrant orange and yellow ensemble. We’d spend the after party eating cake on the beach.”


Pics by Mikey Neff