Though it’s the first in-person interview either of us have done in close to a year, Lily Lizotte, aka The Blossom, doesn’t seem the least bit fazed. Sporting a cautionary mask right up until the photoshoot, and keeping a safe distance for the shots, Lizotte is a bundle of energy who leaps from location to location with a practiced ease, striking silly poses that are somehow perfectly translatable on film. Growing up splitting time between Sydney and New York, and raised by artistic parents who worked in fashion and music, Lily presents a shapeshifter who is comfortable in any environment. Despite the distance, their relationship with their parents remains strong — Lily’s father, Mark Lizotte, is a frequent collaborator.
Decked out in their own designs, a markered-up babydoll dress emblazoned with BLOSSOM over wide-legged, fraying jeans, the young songwriter is just as eclectic, sweet, and unpredictable as their new EP, 97 Blossom, out today. It’s unsurprising that Lizotte, who identifies as non-binary and favors they/them pronouns, was pursuing fashion while living in New York City before pivoting to focus more specifically on music, and style is obviously still a huge part of who they are. Sporting gold teeth, tiny hoops, and their wavy black hair long and loose, they describe their style as a sort of manifestation of gender fluidity.
“I love mixing things that are stereotypically masculine or ultra-feminine together,” they explained during our conservation. “Being nonbinary, I don’t really feel comfortable in just girls clothes or just guy clothes. I like to mix everything together and have it be really fluid. I’ll wear jeans underneath dresses — or I’ll wear Jordans and Yankees caps with big dresses. I feel most comfortable and most like myself when I’m not dressing to gender.”
Staying in one genre is of no interest to them either, and influences on The Blossom range from grunge to hip-hop to shoegaze and back again across the EP’s six disparate songs. After putting out the Bleeding Buttercup EP on SoundCloud last year, along with a few other loose tracks, the 97 EP is Lizotte’s first official release, and one of the first projects to come out of Kevin Abstract and Romil Hemnani of Brockhampton’s creative collective, Video Store. After moving to LA just a few months before the pandemic and imposed quarantine in March of 2020, a friend introduced Lily to Kevin and Romil, confident their collaborations would be valuable.
“Immediately, we loved a lot of the same stuff,” Lily remembered. “We have similar influences and I think we also have the same process as far as creating. As far as the label, we just operate like a big creative family. It’s like a little machine where we can just make everything we want. You want to make it? Make it. I’m pretty fearless like that, and they’re pretty fearless, too. So it’s just fun — we’re just friends having fun. When we were making the EP, it was like, are we enjoying making this? Yeah, then let’s put it out. It’s really that natural, which is really nice.”
The Blossom’s sound builds off the skittering beats and looped instrumentals that define modern hip-hop, cribbing big and twangy guitar licks from the ‘90s, and wielding their raspy, elastic voice in a hundred different ways. The EP’s opening track, and arguably its standout, “Confetti,” is both a reflection on a current situation’s irritation and an unrelenting hope for improvement. “I think the essence and the message of the whole EP is in that one song,” Lizotte said. “I carry a lot of symbolism in that song with me. It’s about one of the most painful and grueling points in my life, but it feels like a time capsule that I’m digging up and singing about. What I was going through then, I’m still going through now, so it’s all continuous.”
And even though hip-hop and indie rock are both major influence on The Blossom’s sound, the unrelenting force that comes through is pure ’90s. From the massive guitar tones to the melancholy and longing in the lyrics, Lizotte explains that their birth year 1997 also doubles a lucky number, hence the ’97 in the title, but their fascination with the decade runs deeper than a personal connection. One of their first singles, “Hardcore Happy,” hits on the connection the hardest, but even if the melody is nostalgic, the lyrics are introspective and unsettled in a way that feels very current.
“I also love how the ’90s recontextualized a lot of sounds,” they said. “It was also an era that deconstructed a lot of what was popularized and really broke it down to to the visceral parts. That’s kind of what I’m doing on this project. There are definitely guitar tones and melodies that I’m influenced by, but I’m more influenced by the whole intention and energy of the ’90s instead of trying to rip that sound directly.”
Of course, back in the ’90s it was rare to hear a queer artist addressing their gender fluidity in incredibly direct way that Lily does, but their focus is also on preserving ambiguity. And if there’s any artistic space where that’s possible, songwriting is it. “You’ll never hear me refer to any gender in my music,” Lizotte said. “I don’t like to sing from a girl’s point of view or a guy’s point of view. I really feel so free when I’m creating music and when I’m immersed in music, I feel really free from gender. It’s the place where I feel most safe. I create without gender in mind, so that’s really cool. It’s so freeing.”
97 Blossom EP is out 4/6 via Video Store. Get it here.