Lily Frost

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Lily Frost

Singer-songwriter Lily Frost occupies a very special place on the Canadian music landscape. With eight albums to her credit, she blends elements of rock, jazz, tango, film noir, French chanson and swing. She has been all over the world; she’s sung in Africa, busked in New Orleans, and lived in Cairo singing nightly in a restaurant.

Lily fled the nest at age 18 to study jazz in Montreal. One serendipitous day, while flipping through sheet music at a record store, John Davis of Montreal's garage punk band, The Gruesomes, approached her asking if she would audition for his other band, The Sheiks. Lily joined them on stage the very next night. The Sheiks covered songs from the 1920’s, doing Bessie Smith, Cab Calloway and Big Mama Thornton, while also giving Lily a trial-by-fire education of the blues. From that first performance, Lily was drawn to the stage and has never looked back.

Meanwhile, back at university, Lily found herself restless. She was anxious to make records and hit the road. She taught herself guitar and wrote songs while performing weekends with The Sheiks. Consequently, during exam week, she found herself traveling in a rickety van to The New Orleans Jazz Fest with a bunch of French garage rockers. Instead of going back for her third year, she accepted an offer to sing in Cairo for six months. From Egypt, Lily made a beeline to Vancouver where stayed for 10 years. Montreal's legendary rockabilly star, Ray Condo, had also moved out west. Upon hearing Lily sing Aretha Franklin’s “Hold On”, he asked her to be the featured vocalist in his group, The Swinging Dukes. Lily sang with The Swinging Dukes for a few months until Ray told her, “You gotta get your own thing going, kid”.

Lily and a couple of her broke friends started busking to make some much-needed change. They played upbeat swing and rockabilly. They quickly received invites to play at art galleries and private parties and, eventually, were packing clubs and touring up and down the west coast to Los Angeles and back. They recruited a local guitarist and called themselves The Colorifics. Soon, they were spearheading the “cocktail nation” movement alongside The Squirrel Nut Zippers, Combustible Edison and The Pink Martinis.

Five years and three albums later, Lily quit The Colorifics. Always an avid writer, Lily wanted to perform her own material. Hence, her first album, Cosmicomic Country (1999), then Lunamarium (2000) which was released on Nettwerk Records and featured the single ‘Who Am I’. Midway through work on her second Nettwerk album, Situation, politics and budget cuts drove her to independence. Lily was ready to challenge Toronto, and headed back east. Within two years, she met her soul mate and future husband, José Miguel Contreras (founder of the band By Divine Right). Together, they completed Situation (2004), co-wrote and produced Cine- Magique (2006), Flights of Fancy (2007), Lily Swings (2008) and Viridian Torch.