The Tide Is Rising: An Interview with Lily Mae Harrington

by - September 07, 2023

Lily Mae Harrington feels most comfortable when she is near the beach.

Growing up in a rural beach town on Cape Cod, she watched tourists come and go while she got to explore the ocean year-round. She also explored music as everyone in her family played an instrument in some capacity. She went the classical voice route in middle and high school, performing in choir before eventually getting a scholarship to Westminster Choir College.

She said she learned the hard way that a major part of music was the creation process. Classical training and performing in musical theater did not give her the opportunity to hone in on any songwriting skills, and after a year in college she left to pursue acting.

“There’s something about specifically classical [music] that it’s all about really aligning the voice and getting a very pure sound,” she said. “There was something about that that I really liked and I think there was a discipline in that too that I really liked and needed. I think there was a comfort in that at a certain point too that this is the note you have to hit. There was something further for me like the exploration of sound past that that I eventually found.”

Despite finding a new path in acting that she was enjoying, she still felt a pull towards music. She began writing, just for her own musical fulfillment, and spent a few years concentrating on the craft before getting a co-writing credit on Sabrina Carpenter’s first album.

That accomplishment seemed to have been the moment she realized she wanted to make music. She realized she wanted to share her personal stories and emotions, and with that came her five-track EP, The Sun is My Lover.

The first song she wrote was “Maui”, inspired by her first solo vacation.

“I had a really spiritual, personal experience there after being by myself,” she said. “I felt very empowered as a woman alone traveling, specifically there. I think there’s always been a fear for me that that’s something I shouldn’t do.”

She not only conquered her fear, but that trip influenced her to really pursue music. Not writing for other people, not just acting; having something that is her own creation.

“Maui” sat on a shelf for a while as she continued to educate herself on songwriting. She went through a lot of self-exploration during that time, saying that the push for needing a brand or marketing tactic to add to an identity really had her thinking about her hometown and sense of peace being near water. It gave her the idea to write with a summertime, beach vacation theme, and while staying alone at her childhood home she found herself creating the lyrics and melody to “Lifeguard”.

She had walked down to the beach that she grew up at and spent some time sitting at the lifeguard stand watching the sunset. While that moment inspired the song, it was also a moment where she reflected on a six-year, on-and-off relationship that had just ended. She had never written a song about it, but felt right about it at that moment. It ended up being “Good at Lovin You” and gives a summer love vibe that helps create a narrative she didn’t realize she was establishing.

That same day she came up with the phrase, “the sun is my lover”. She sang it to herself that entire day, not really taking it seriously. Her initial reaction was that she had no intention of doing anything with it, but quickly noticed the joy in singing it. It brought out a part of her that she wanted to embrace more of, and in the end it became the title of the EP.

By tying in “Maui” and the final song, “Salty”, The Sun is My Lover goes from falling in love to falling out of love to loving who and where you are in life. Even when the song is unhappy or bitter, the bright soundscape still shines through.

“I felt like it really encompassed the summer and sun vibe,” she said. “I’m in all these different places in the world, but at the end of the day, the sun is always going down on me and this journey of independence through all of that.”

By sharing her love of the sand and the sea, Lily Mae Harrington brings a glittering approach to relationships. In each of these five songs, the sun shines a little brighter and the waves crash a little louder.

You May Also Like