Léonie Sonning Talent Prize 2020
Lifted by the wind
Air has been playing a role in Lil Lacy’s professional life for a long time. Both the air that surrounds us and that we breathe, and the air at higher altitudes. Her latest work for accordion, Løftet af vinden (Lifted by the wind), came into being after her first paragliding experience. Here she was literally lifted by the wind while the wind at the same time promised to keep her up and out of danger.
It was a serious case of dengue fever while studying in India that opened Lil’s eyes to air in earnest, and particularly the importance of the breath. The viral disease was so bad that it completely knocked the young aspiring singer’s body out and made her unable to sing for a long time. It took her two years to get her body and breathing back under control. At that time Lil had already started working on alternative ways of expressing herself through music.
Lil started experimenting with a cello and effect pedals and took classes with the cello player Soma Allpass. This led to the duo Soma & Lil in which – through concerts, film, performances and now two albums – they have been exploring their common passion for doing things differently and creating untraditional soundscapes with the cello.
Learnt to walk before she could crawl
When she was younger, Lil never meant to become a musician – even though she came from a musical home with musicians constantly coming and going. Her father was the American jazz pianist and composer Butch Lacy, and her mother is the singer Birgitte Friboe.
Lil remembers how she used to build hideouts underneath the grand piano when her father was practising. And how herself and her mother would try to drown out the noisy hoover. Maybe exactly because there was so much music around her, she looked for different ways – her own space – to express herself as a teenager. She therefore immersed herself in photography.
“I’ve always wanted to do things my own way. When I was learning to walk, for instance, I never crawled first. Instead I just sat there observing and registering – and THEN I walked,” Lil tells us about her fundamental approach to learning new things.
“I think my temper requires me to have my very own space. When I was living at home, I was therefore convinced that no way was I going to do anything to do with music. It was difficult to hear your own voice when there were so many strong and amazing voices around you,” Lil says, explaining why she at that stage did not think that she would become a musician.
An enormous range
Only when Lil moved away from home did she get the space to search for her own musical niche. On a whim she applied to a four-year talent course, the MGK, and quite quickly progressed to the Rhythmic Music Conservatory where she obtained a bachelor in rhythmic singing and later a master in rhythmic composition at the Royal Academy of Music, Aarhus/Aalborg. Straight after that she went on as a soloist in classical composition, which bears witness to Lil’s enormous creative range.
“I’m generally very curious and feel most at ease when I can work and use myself in different ways. The more I can learn from the different areas and really focus on the projects I’m doing, the happier I am,” she says with a huge grin, extremely satisfied with the roads that her creative life has brought her down.
Roads that have brought collaborations with many different creative people: directors, stage artists, dancers, photographers and musicians from all genres, most recently the accordion player Bjarke Mogensen, who, using his instrument, makes her favourite theme tangible, “because an accordion is such a physical wind instrument that sucks the air in like a lung and blows it back out again,” as Lil describes it, demonstrating how it works with big arm movements and airways.
Lil Lacy in brief
Born in 1985. Grew up in Copenhagen and Aarhus.
Bachelor in rhythmic singing, music and movement at the Rhythmic Music Conservatory in 2010. Further training in Voice Embodiment for singers under Anne Rosing 2011-2013
Master in composition at the Royal Academy of Music, Aarhus/Aalborg 2018
Soloist degree in composition at the Royal Academy of Music, Aarhus/Aalborg 2020
Member of the Frk. Jacobsen, Valby Vokalgruppe and Soma & Lil ensembles
Has participated in many different works within stage art, film and audiovisual performance.
The scholarship from the Léonie Sonning Music Foundation
Lil will spend the money from the Léonie Sonning Music Foundation on study trips to San Diego, New York and Berlin.