• Michael Bugeja

INTRODUCING NO LILIES IN AUTUMN


No Lilies In Autumn is the kind of name one might associate with a book, a movie even, but perhaps not so much with a band. In this particular case, more than just a band, it encapsulates a multi-faceted project with more than just music to offer. To begin with, the project does in fact owe its origin to literature, more precisely to a bout of story-writing that somehow inspired its author set his words to music, the result being the conceptual body of work that will be performed over not one, but two November evenings at St James Cavalier. MICHAEL BUGEJA speaks to the creator of No Lilies in Autumn KARL SPITERI about the project’s upcoming debut live performances and the idea behind enhancing this ‘music performance of art rock and post-progressive sounds’.

When and where did the idea for this production come from?

The idea for the production came to me about 18 months ago. I was writing a story about chance encounters between strangers, and as the words fell on the page it occurred to me that this would translate perfectly into music. I had started experimenting with new keyboard sounds and had already written a couple of pieces on piano. As the idea of writing a conceptual piece expanded, more music and lyrics fell into place. I fell in love with the music and wanted to share it, and the full idea then hatched and become No Lilies In Autumn.

Both the band and the performance are called No Lilies In Autumn. Is there a story behind this curious name?

No Lilies In Autumn is a specific reference to an episode in the storyline. I did not start with the name and neither was I looking for a name for the band or the performance; it just came to me as the writing progressed. The storyline is based on personal experience, and Lily is central to the theme, so it was only natural to use it within the performance. Lily is both the name of a person and the name of a flower - and both have positive connotations - yet No Lilies In Autumn combines both positive and negative elements, giving it an intriguing slant - the name just stuck.

The production makes use of music, photos, videos and some narrative pieces to convey its story. What attracted you to this approach and how important to the success of the production is the visual element?

I am a story teller at heart. I use music, words and sounds to communicate feelings, emotions and stories. During the writing process the images that began to surface in my head were a perfect backdrop to the storyline. Since I am interested in other art forms it was the ideal opportunity for me to explore how photography, art, literature and video could be combined with the music. I wanted to create something engaging, something that appeals to different senses. Although the visuals are not critical and the music and lyrics still work on their own, they certainly enhance the experience, and since I chose an intimate setting for the performance, they have become a visual enhancement that audiences will certainly enjoy.

‘A music performance of art rock and post-progressive sounds’ can mean many things… The style of music of No Lilies In Autumn is certainly varied. Although the overarching genre is post-progressive rock, in truth the music incorporates other elements such as art rock, ambient, electronica and strands of classical music. I am not too comfortable with ‘labels’ as these can be very misleading. I am heavily influenced by bands like Porcupine Tree, No-Man, Richard Barbieri, Blackfield, Nsound and Gazpacho; all modern bands that have taken progressive sounds into new and exciting territories. I am not after recreating old music - I want to do something innovative and different. If anyone had to ask me what No Lilies In Autumn sounds like, well I’m pleased to say it just sounds like No Lilies In Autumn, a rather unique combination of different music elements and sounds that combine into something quite interesting.

A word about the band performing on the night..

The choice of musicians was actually fairly easy for me. I have known Jeremy de Maria, Joe Zammit and Daniela Cassar for a number of years. We’re friends and have also played together on various occasions. They are also extremely talented individuals. I wanted to work with people who could easily translate what was in my head; musicians who could turn my ideas into something special. Working well together is an essential part of the process and working with this band has been extremely rewarding. They have captured the spirit of No Lilies In Autumn perfectly and I am very proud of the work we’ve manage to create.

Is this a one-off production or will there be more No Lilies In Autumn activity in the future?

Further to our performance in November, the intention is to maintain No Lilies In Autumn as a working outfit. I strongly believe in this music and would certainly like to continue sharing it with different audiences. I am also toying with the idea of recording a full album. I am however also fully aware that this music is not mainstream and does not attract large audiences, so the opportunities in Malta will be few and far between. I am driven by my passion for music so any opportunity to share this music with others will be the driving force going forward. Whatever comes next, No Lilies In Autumn will certainly continue.

No Lilies In Autumn will be performed on Friday 7 and Saturday 8 November at St James Cavalier in Valletta (8pm both nights). Tickets cost €12 and are available online at www.sjcav.org. For more information, visit No Lilies In Autumn's event page on Facebook.

An edited version of this article was first published on The Sunday Times of Malta (26 October 2014).

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