PILLARS is an electronic pop singer who uses honesty and vulnerability to create the heart of her music. Since 2014, she has been making her own music and has now released her second EP Circa after 3 years of silence. We sat down with PILLARS to talk about the new EP, her music and much more!
OSR: Was there a specific event that made you choose music as a career?
PILLARS: I wouldn’t say that there was a specific event. Ever since I can remember I’ve sung. I used to carry my CD walkman around the house, harmonising to my favourite music. I also used to write down lyrics and make up melodies for them when I was much younger, I think I still have a few somewhere.
When I started high school, I asked my Ma whether I could take up an instrument. I initially chose the drums. It all kind of went from there, learning how to play various other instruments and collecting more and more tools to help me write and eventually produce my own music.
OSR: Why the long hiatus and what propelled you back into music?
PILLARS: Nothing was going right. I had lost my manager of 3 years, who had been there since the start of PILLARS and was one of my closest friends because she decided to move to Berlin when Brexit happened. She’s originally German and I didn’t blame her at all. I was tied to a contract with a big publisher, a relationship that, for me, wasn’t particularly fruitful. On top of this, I had just come to the end of my battle with Anorexia. It just felt right to stop for a while and reassess why I was making music, was I making it for myself anymore? Music had all of a sudden stopped being fun.
Last year, I got a day job in a big music studio and created more of a routine around my life. I let go of the expectation that I was always going to have someone holding my hand. I was relying on myself fully for the first time in my music career. I slowly started making music again, but this time for me. I incorporated more of my acoustic background with the electronic sound of PILLARS and it just felt right. Now, here I am, doing it all independently for the first time in 5 years and feeling pretty pleased with myself for it.
OSR: What is unique or at least uncommon about your music?
PILLARS: I can’t pin the genre of my music down, so I’ve labelled it ‘heartbreak bedroom pop’. I’m always writing really sad songs. Who isn’t, but it’s become chronic for me! Music is where I let all the negativity out and turn it into something positive. I am now making music from my bedroom, from the drum samples to the vocal recordings to piecing it all together ‘in the box’, it’s all me. At the core of it, my music is pop, a softer, more gentle and emotion pop, but essentially pop. So the label seemed fitting and uniquely me!
OSR: Is there a specific meaning or theme behind Circa?
PILLARS: Circa; a reflection of past mistakes, regrets and behaviours. Echoing a time I felt so strongly about something the words just fell out of me. Catharticism. Narcissism. Whatever you call it, it’s mine. I’m unashamedly apologetic to my lovers, for I love boldly and without haste. Now, always, circa…
I wrote this about Circa before I even knew it would be an EP. It was simply a concept to build my music around at first. These three songs are about different occasions that I’ve felt so intensely about something that it’s made me act out of character, sometimes in a way I don’t like and sometimes in a way that someone else might not agree with. It is also about owning those experiences because they’ve made me who I am.
OSR: What is your favourite song from Circa and why?
PILLARS: This is like asking a mother who their favourite child is! I refuse to answer! It would just be unfair on the other songs.
OSR: What challenges did you face while creating the EP?
PILLARS: The release was pulled together during lockdown, this was the main challenge of this release. I was lucky enough to collaborate with some amazingly creative people who were so good at what they do that it didn’t make the fact that I couldn’t collaborate with them in person a problem.
For example, Marieke Macklon, who did my press shots, did them over FaceTime. They turned out even better than if I was in a studio with hair and makeup and a whole team of photographers. Creatives are really good at adapting and I’m a true believer that limitations can spark creativity. Lockdown has simply been another limitation.
OSR: What does your music say about you?
PILLARS: I intend for it to say that I’m emotionally resilient, but I fear it just comes out as sad and vulnerable. When I’m done writing a song, I feel powerful. Like I’ve conquered whatever motivated me to write the song in the first place, but I listen back and the music doesn’t portray that power. It portrays the hurt I’ve felt. I’m actually a pretty positive person, believe it or not.
OSR: Would you like to collaborate with other artists?
PILLARS: Always. Artists, producers, singers, digital artists, photographers, writers, designers. You name it, I’m happy to collaborate with art I’m passionate about.
OSR: Once life has returned to normal, will you be gigging or touring?
PILLARS: Hopefully! It’s sad because I was gearing up to start gigging again and I’d been pulling together a live set around the EP before lockdown. Who knows when we’ll be allowed back into music venues? I’m not only a musician, but also a gig-goer, I love seeing live shows. It breaks my heart how much of an effect the pandemic has had on lots of industries, but particularly the arts. I’ve been following the #LetTheMusicPlay campaign closely here in the UK and the music industry had really come together to push the government to give us the support we deserve.
OSR: What are your musical plans for the next year or so?
PILLARS: I might be putting out some more music at the rate I’m writing. I’ve been working on a track particularly close to my heart and I’m keen to have people hear it by the end of 2020!
I’m also doing lots of talks over the summer, mostly online with the lockdown still in place, on music and mental health. This is something I’m very passionate about. Follow my socials for more information on that because I really believe the organisations I’m working with have the potential to surface some really important issues. The effect that a career in music can have on ones mental health is quite substantial, but the struggles faced during lockdown could further the damage. I believe in the power of speaking honestly about these struggles, so watch this space!