Los-Angeles singer-songwriter Lily Kershaw’s new EP is “Work Tapes.” (Courtesy Diana Mantis)

Los-Angeles singer-songwriter Lily Kershaw’s new EP is “Work Tapes.” (Courtesy Diana Mantis)

Balladeer Lily Kershaw writes music in her dreams

Flame-haired balladeer Lily Kershaw’s music career kicked into high gear in 2012, when her gentle acoustic jangler “As it Seems” was in the season finale of the CBS series “Criminal Minds.” The next season featured her piano song “Ashes Like Snow,” and soon after came the release of her 2013 debut album “Midnight in the Garden.”

But the Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter had an epiphany a few years before, at age 18: “When I remember very specifically thinking that if someone told me that I could never write another song, ever again, I would actually panic. So I realized then that music was the path I should follow,” says Kershaw, 27, who appears in The City this weekend with her new EP “Work Tapes.”

Kershaw, who wrote plays in high school, imagined a Broadway-centered life of screenwriting and possibly acting. She has several IMDB assistant-production credits from those days having worked on acquaintances’ film projects.

“I just liked making art with friends,” she says. “And if anyone had a vision, I was always down to help execute that vision.”

Obsessed with Paul Simon, she also secretly began composing music at 13. But she shrugged songwriting off as a pipe dream, until intuition took over.

“My whole thing is about what feels right to my mental or emotional state, and I don’t feel good when I don’t write songs,” says Kershaw, who followed her album with a series of EPs and singles, including a breathy new version of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.”

The new collection has three tracks she penned within 24 hours, which she laughingly calls “a tribe.”

Kershaw is so beholden to her muse, she dreams symphonically. It’s an improvement over recurring World War II nightmares she used to endure, in which she fled bombing in a vaguely European village.

Although she doesn’t keep a dream diary for lyrics — sometimes she’ll wake up and capture song snippets in her iPhone’s voice memos — she says, “Some nights, a full-blown orchestra will be playing in my dreams, and it will get so loud it wakes me up.”

Kershaw believes that she chose a perfect time to enter show business. “Today, you can follow a creative impulse to a quick turnaround, making it easier for artists to create concept EPs and albums,” she says. “So my attitude is always, ‘Hey, this could be fun! Let’s see where this goes!’”

IF YOU GO
Joshua Radin, Lily Kershaw
Where: Chapel, 777 Valencia St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Nov. 25
Tickets: $40 to $45
Contact: (415) 551-5157, www.ticketfly.com

As It SeemsAshes Like SnowLily KershawMidnight in the GardenMy WayPop MusicWork Tapes

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

The sidewalk on Egbert Avenue in the Bayview recently was cluttered with car parts, tires and other junk. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)</ins>
New surveillance effort aims to crack down on illegal dumping

’We want to make sure we catch people who are trashing our streets’

The recall election for California Gov. Gavin Newsom is scheduled for Sept. 14. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
SF could play a big role in overcoming Democrat apathy, driving voter turnout for Newsom

San Francisco voters are not used to swaying elections. Just think of… Continue reading

Health care workers treat a Covid-19 patient who needs to be intubated before being put on a ventilator at Providence St. Mary Medical Center during a surge of cases in Apple Valley, Dec. 17, 2020. Confronted with surging infections, California became the first state in the country to mandate coronavirus vaccines or testing for state employees and health-care workers. (Ariana Drehsler/The New York Times)
In California, a mix of support and resistance to new vaccine rules

By Shawn Hubler, Livia Albeck-Ripka and Soumya Karlamangla New York Times SACRAMENTO… Continue reading

Dave Hodges, pastor at Zide Door, the Church of Entheogenic Plants that include marijuana and psilocybin mushrooms, holds some psychedelic mushrooms inside the Oakland church on Friday, July 22, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Psychedelic spirituality: Inside a growing Bay Area religious movement

‘They are guiding us into something ineffable’

Most Read