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Green Banana recently had the pleasure to undertake a quick interview with the wonderful, Dutch avant-garde songwriter and performer, LIJO.  Please read on! 

Please tell us about yourself?
Hi, this is LIJO and I am an artist, songwriter, composer, singer and pianist. 

How would you describe your music?
This is always a hard one! Recently I refrain from trying to give a name to the direction I’m heading into, because it changes all the time. For my recent released work, I tried art-pop, synth pop and avant pop, but I’m also working on acoustic songs, cinematic songs, instrumental songs. It’s definitely the alternative corner of pop, but within that I’m going to stick to just ‘songs’.

Why are you called LIJO?
Why am I called LIJO? I chose this moniker because it means ‘it was raining’ which is melancholic, which I love, but rain also makes things fertile. For me it is the perfect combination of sad and hopeful, one of the few consistent things I put in my work, I’d say.

Please could you give us an insight into the creative process behind your releases?
I have my own tiny studio called Goudvis (‘Goldfish’) where I write all my songs and record the first versions. From there on, I often work together with other musicians and producers to finish the songs. My friends from Off The Grid Studios, the studio complex where Goudvis is situated, are the ones I work with the most right now, for the music as well as for the videos. They’re a great multi talented bunch of people that I’m glad to work with.

Your videos and promotional images are always very striking, do you enjoy this element just as much as the music?
I do like to think about my visuals, but I have to say that nothing beats making the music. I think I am a creator/maker first and foremost, and though I have phases in which I really like to do the pictures and the videos and stuff and phases in which I don’t, I hardly have phases in which I don’t somehow create.


Which release has had the best reaction so far?
I think my song ‘Spell’ had the highest number of personally sent reactions, which to me is the best reaction even though it’s not visible in numbers on platforms. It’s an odd fragmented song, but a heartfelt and naked one. Maybe that balance between weird and familiar is what stuck with people.

Times are hard in the music industry, are you able to make a living from your music?
Most people who work in the music business have several projects going on, and teach music as well. I am no exception. I have multiple musical projects, such as Ilen Mer and AMIMEA and I write with fellow artists too. So far I’ve been lucky to dedicate all my time to music related work. 


Do you play live shows, if so, what are they like?
I do play live shows. Mostly I play electronically with my cello player Mirthe de Jonge, and we play around with beats and loops and synths. But we also play acoustic, more intimate shows. I like having the option to keep my live shows in motion.


What are your future plans? Do you have a masterplan?
I do have a masterplan, but as with everything in life, it tends to change every now and again. For now I’m focusing on releasing my debut album in 2023. 

Please tell us your 5 favourite albums?
Such a hard question again, because this too is always fluctuating. But let’s call it a snapshot. 

At this moment I’m listening to Ben Howard a lot, especially when I’m traveling. I love his second and third album (I Forget Where We Were and Noonday Dream) and have been listening to Collections From The Whiteout a lot this summer. It had some mixed reviews because it’s not an easy one, but it has been growing on me and I can really appreciate it.

The new Sharon van Etten record, We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong, comes to mind too, as well as Metric’s Synthetica. I have very fond memories of times I listened to Bon Iver’s record Bon Iver and I love St Vincent’s Masseduction. Too many to list and I probably forget a lot, too.  

I’m going to add I Love You, It’s A Fever Dream by Tallest Man On Earth because that was the one I had on repeat when I was touring by myself in England in 2017. It was my first tour abroad in my small car and I felt so scared and so free at the same time. I cried so loudly to the title track on the highway in France, behind the wheel, at sunset. It was such a powerful moment of realising that I’d done something that I had thought I couldn’t do. And this record always brings back that feeling. 

Which song would you like to nominate for the Green Banana Jukebox and why?
Mistakes by Sharon van Etten, because it’s a feel good song that helps me put my wrong choices into perspective.

Finally, anything you would like to say to anyone reading this?
Well thanks for reading all this and checking out my work, new music is coming soon so I appreciate it! Furthermore, I’m just going to repeat what I try telling myself recently, which is; don’t take things too seriously, tell the people you love ‘m that you love ‘m, take good care of yourself, be kind to the world, and many things that feel huge and scary right now aren’t that important in the long run or the big scheme. 

Green Banana would like to thank LIJO for answering these questions.

Find LIJO on Instagram, Facebook and Bandcamp.

We also highly recommend her YouTube channel.

Interview by Skreen