My Firsts: Lily Wolter of Penelope Isles | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Sunday, May 19th, 2024  

My Firsts: Lily Wolter of Penelope Isles

Crying in the Fridge

Nov 04, 2021 Web Exclusive Photography by Parri Thomas Bookmark and Share

My Firsts is our email interview series where we ask musicians to tell us about their first life experiences, be it early childhood ones (first word, first concert, etc.) or their first tastes of being a musician (first band, first tour, etc.). For this My Firsts we talk to Lily Wolter of Penelope Isles.

The British duo features Lily and her brother Jack Wolter and are based in the seaside town of Brighton. They are releasing a new album, Which Way to Happy, tomorrow via Bella Union. Which Way to Happy is the band’s sophomore album and follows their debut album, Until the Tide Creeps In, released in 2019 also via Bella Union. Jack produced the album, which was mixed by Dave Fridmann. New backing band members Henry Nicholson, Joe Taylor, and Hannah Feenstra all contributed to the recording of Which Way to Happy, as did composer Fiona Brice.

As the pandemic took hold, Jack and Lily decamped to a cottage in Cornwall to begin writing and recording the album.

“We were there for about two or three months,” said Jack in a press release announcing the album. “It was a tiny cottage and we all went a bit bonkers, and we drank far too much, and it spiraled a bit out of control. There were a lot of emotional evenings and realizations, which I think reflects in the songs. Writing and recording new music was a huge part of the recovery process for all of us.”

One song on the album, “Sudoku,” dates back to the Wolter siblings’ old band, Your Gold Teeth, back when they were based on the Isle of Man (an island in the Irish Sea between England and Ireland). It’s a song inspired by their father. “Dad loves a sudoku puzzle whilst he’s sat on the loo,” said Jack in a press release. “So this one is for him! It’s a special song for us and we wanted to bring it back and play it with Penelope Isles.”

Lily also records music under her alter-ego KookieLou and earlier this year sang guest vocals on the Lost Horizons song “Heart of a Hummingbird,” which was one of our Songs of the Week.

Read on as Lily talks about her first best friend, her first kiss and first broken heart, being star-struck, her earliest musical experiences, and a recent first that was less than ideal.

First best friend?

Her name was Rachel and we became best friends day one of reception (pre-kindergarten). She smelled like chlorine and her birthday was June 12th.

First person you kissed?

His name was Callum and we were 10 behind my garden shed. We had found some birds eggs in the woods and pretended to be their mum and dad as we cradled them in an empty tissue box. This naturally sparked a romantic bond between us.

First time your heart was broken?

I shall not mention his name. All I’ll say is we met at the Youth Orchestra (he was first clarinet, I was third saxophone) and after wooing me one summer, I went on holiday and when I came back he had a new girl. I cried in the walk-in fridge at work. Teenagers are cruel.

First TV show you were obsessed with?

Hannah Montana. “Pink isn’t just a color, it’s an attitude!”

First record your parents played for you?

Hard to remember the first as they have spun great albums from the beginning, but I have fond memories of [Steely Dan’s] Can’t Buy a Thrill.

First music festival you went to?

There used to be this festival on the Isle of Man called Mannifest and it was honestly the highlight of everyone’s year. I met my current best friend, Mimi there when we were 14. Just two crazy lil gals rolling around in the mud full of life. Love you, Radical Mimi!

First concert you went to?

Atomic Kitten in some old jungle-gym venue on Douglas promenade on the Isle of Man. I was about six and utterly s t a r s t r u c k.

First musician you had a crush on?

Well it’s funny you ask. Me and my old primary school bezzie Rachel both fought viciously over who would marry Charlie Simpson from Busted. Think it was the incredibly strong brow that drew us both in.

First recording device?

For my 18th birthday my brother got me Logic X, the classic Scarlett all-in-one producer package and some KRKs. I came down the stairs and he had made a weird Happy 18th Birthday EDM track that was blaring throughout the whole house. It’s down to him I make music.

First anything else?

I’m currently on crutches for the first time. I always thought they look kinda cool and fun but oh how silly I was. It’s a pain in the ass (or the knee in my case). Although my arms are getting pretty hench.

Read our interview with Penelope Isles on Until the Tide Creeps In.

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