Friday, August 5, 2016

Chicago musician Lara Filip releases debut album, will perform at SPACE in Evanston


Lara Filip never expected to follow in the footsteps of her parents and become a musician. 

But she did. And she will celebrate the release of her debut album, "Stop Time," with a show Aug. 8 at SPACE, 1245 Chicago Ave., Evanston.

The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and tickets cost $12 to $22, available by going to 

I had the chance to talk to Lara about the new album.

Q - Great talking to you. Congratulations on the release of your debut album. In sitting down to make the album, what were your goals and do you think you accomplished them?

Thanks! You know, in all honesty, the album being made was kind of a surprise. I was writing and playing out a little, but had no budget to work on an album the way I would have liked.

An angel investor stepped in and basically said, “I want you to make the album that you want to make. Let me help you.”

In some ways, my initial goal was just trying to stay accountable to that faith. I also wanted to keep the process fluid and open and I definitely accomplished that.

That’s why it took such a long time to finish. We didn’t shy away from re-recording things, adding and cutting songs and playing around in post-production.

Q - Is there a story behind the album's name?

Yeah. We actually changed the album name right around the end of the project. First off, the title track ended up being so beautiful and pretty much everyone on the project’s favorite tune.

But it also explains how I think about music and what it means. So many of the stories behind the songs have changed.

The relationships ended or evolved, but the song captured that moment. Literally stopped time. Took a musical picture of it.

And even though I may have moved on from that moment, someone else may hear the song and it’s exactly where they are, and now that song has stopped time and captured that moment for them.

Q - Liam Davis, who is well known in the Chicago area, produced the album. I know that he has done a lot of work with Grammy nominated children's musician Justin Roberts. How did you connect with Liam and what do you think he brought to the project?

I’m lucky enough that Liam is my best friend’s husband. So, I’ve gotten to watch his career and see him work for years.

He helped me develop my first batch of songs and we talked early on about him producing for me, but I couldn’t afford him. So, I was just kind of muddling along, saving pennies. 

Then, the investor came along. Liam was literally the first call I made. I can’t tell you how important Liam has been to my development as a writer, and how beautiful the work is he’s done on the album.

We have very different tastes, but both ridiculously high standards. That combination has been fascinating.

We push each other and trust each other and really dig when one or the other of us can change the others perspective. I’ve said many times that I consider making this album with him, getting my Master’s degree in songwriting.

Q - You started writing songs in 2009 even though you had vowed you would never go into the music business like your parents. What changed your mind? Has the music business lived up to your expectations? 

All the crap in my head simply busted its way out. Seriously. I started writing because it was just happening.

There was no denying, or stopping it. I’ve always written poetry and some work in the theater as a writer. I’d written a kid’s musical. 

But songwriting was this sacred area that my parents owned. I wasn’t going to touch it.

They are both so wildly talented. I had a lot of feelings surrounding my upbringing and their careers. But I didn’t change my mind really. Like I said, it just happened.  

I would wake up singing things. I’d walk home from the train and by the time I got home, have a full song written in my head. I don’t know how you say no to that. 

It pissed me off actually. Now, it’s my therapy and how I feel and share. And it’s actually changed some of my thoughts about my parents. 

If anything has changed, it’s that. I appreciate the legacy now and the things they’ve been though and what they’ve given to me.

Q - You were diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago. How is your health these days and how did the diagnosis impact your songwriting and music?

Yeah, that was a “fun” year. I’m happy to report I’m doing great healthwise. Thanks for asking.

It was a shock. I was young for it. No family history. No prior medical issues. It was rough.

You know, at the time you put on a brave face, but in hindsight, I can say it really sucked. But it also cracked me open.

It made me braver and more willing to put myself out there. I spent a lot of time lying on my couch in a chemo haze just ruminating about the past and the future and who and what was really important to me.

I think that quiet, painful time gave me the space and urgency I needed to write the way I do now.

Q - What do you think of the Chicago music scene and how do you think you fit into it?

I love Chicago. I do think it’s a bummer that it’s hard to make a real living as an artist here. I mean, I have five jobs. No exaggeration.

But that’s also kind of the beauty of it. The “hustle” in Chicago feels more about trying to have a really good life balance. Everyone I know has families, or cool other jobs and hobbies.

There’s a real spirit of collaboration. I feel like as long as you don’t suck and you’re a good human, the music scene here will embrace you. You can find your people. You can easily find a niche for yourself.

That’s been my experience with it. The people I know are joyful and cool and open and so ridiculously talented. How I fit into it? Hmm. To be determined.

I’d like to be as loved and respected by my peers as my parents were by theirs. Go figure.

Q - What are your short-term and long-term goals?

Short term, I’d love to open for bigger acts and play some good shows. I think my bigger focus is really as a song writer though.

If I can get some placements on film/TV or publishing going on, that would be great. I’m realistic. I’m not trying to go out and be a pop star and tour and be, like, “super famous”.

However, I’m also kind of a mainstream chick. If I could get a song on "Grey’s Anatomy," I’d die happy. I know. Sell out, right?

I’d also love to go do a small venue tour in Ireland. I lived there for a year and my keyboard player (who I went to performing arts high school with), has family there still.

Short and long term aren't much different. I want to continue to be brave enough to put myself out there and do the music for myself and whoever is getting something out of it.