LIJO captures adventurous, literate songwriting in eccentric avant-pop with a sense of adventure and disregard of any rules except her own.
The balance between revealing your true self or living up to an image fascinates LIJO and is one of the themes that keeps coming back in her debut releases. Taking risks, making your own choices, questioning what is accepted and trying to change what’s to be considered normal is everything she stands for. She is constantly exploring her own boundaries in order to cross them. This leads to a journey that can be dark, cynical and sometimes icy, as well as playful and lighthearted.
Being from a small village, LIJO grew up to be a self-taught pianist and songwriter with little knowledge of popmusic, which laid the foundation for her quirky sense of melody and lyrics and her genre-bending writing style. Having been the driving force behind cinematic folkpop band ILEN MER, launching her solo project under the moniker LIJO marked the start of her exploration of electronic elements in her music. Opening her ears to artists like St Vincent and Imogen Heap as well as Depeche Mode and Kate Bush, her music, still hard to put in a box, was soon labeled AVANT POP.
"At the moment, I’m very interested in the sense of self in a modern society. There’s a lot of window-shopping going on and it’s never been easier to create masks for yourself. I’ve been asking myself; what do I show people, and as a consequence, how does that picture affect my view on myself? How does it affect my relationships with others? People are said to be lonelier than ever while at the same time, it should be easier to get in contact with people than it’s ever been. I’m thinking a lot about what true connection means in a world that is so rapidly changing and that feels to me as a decorated bomb ticking faster and faster. It’s so scary and endlessly fascinating at the same time to observe people and myself dealing with that."
After spending a year working on her music in Berlin with singer, writer and producer Bled White, the first two-part ‘My Inner Parts’ was out in spring 2019 and supported by a spring tour in the UK. Debut single 'Sometimes I Want Rain' and the more straight-forward follow-up 'Elasticity' put LIJO on the map as being expressive, non-conformist and hard to pinpoint. "I'm not what I show, oh let's talk this through - you do not know me and I do not know you", she sings, proving she is fully aware of her quirkiness and embracing it.
In summer of 2019 LIJO travelled to Scandinavia as she was invited to play the Gothenburg Culture Festival, followed by a fall tour through Germany and Poland in support of the release of 'Push Me', the first episode of follow up two-part 'My Every Part' which was recorded in hometown Utrecht. The last single 'Stranger Danger' concludes this journey. It is LIJO’s most upbeat track so far, but with a darker undertone: it narrates about taking pride in who you are regardless of expectations or judgement, but was written to address the lack of true connection. LIJO: “I feel everybody is on an island or in a bubble more than ever - it definitely is easier to get in touch with people, but in the meantime it is also easier to watch, compare, judge and assume without really connecting. Though the video is quirky and has a light feel to it, it only represents the sugarcoating of a more serious thing - something that I feel is going on a lot these days.”
Her untameable curiosity and urge to keep renewing herself are reflected in a live performance that’s always in motion. LIJO plays with synths, beats and loops in her electronic set and is intrigued by working with guest musicians, though her songs are just as convincing stripped down to the naked core with only a piano and her characteristic vocals.
The four singles form the 'PARTS' EP that underlines LIJO's creativity and wit. “At first the two two-parts didn’t really have to do with one another, but they connected well thematically, so I decided to glue them together. It’s all about two sides: who you really are inside versus what version of yourself you show to the outside world, and then the correlation between those two. I find that very fascinating.”
After 'PARTS', LIJO now keeps busy recording her solo debut album.