We Are Lilies | creating a space for meaningful connections through music and conversation - Bubblegum Club

We Are Lilies | creating a space for meaningful connections through music and conversation

“Lilies is an online radio station and record label that explores ways to reflect and tell the lived experiences, voices and sounds of marginalised folk in South Africa through music and conversation.

A space for meaningful solidarities, friendships, and other connections to form.”

Likhona Lilies, 2021.

Describing themselves as an online radio station, and record label, aimed at connecting communities through music and conversation, Lilies have become a popular local digital avenue for music-centred content.

Founded a few years ago by Likhona also known to many as seventhgaze Lilies has blossomed into a diverse youth-focused music platform that houses a plethora of talented resident DJ’s and conversationalists. Their content is carefully and considerably curated, fully devoted to building some form of community amongst the youth of today.

Lilies’ content mainly lives on their website, which is an interactive platform, allowing for a multitude of features such as accessing DJ live streams, chat rooms, schedules, demo submissions, and much more.

What really fascinates me about Lilies, is how they have managed to grow, develop and morph into somewhat of a holistic creative company  incorporating other creative mediums, such as merchandise, as a portion of their total value offering. From conceptualising an online music platform which hosts a wide variety of exciting upcoming shows, such as The Upendi Cruise, Bad Girls Club, and Anarchy and Anxiety, they specialise in honing in, and elaborating on the niche through music and conversation   in order to invite others into the conversation.

I virtually caught up with the man at the helm of Lilies, Likhona, to find out more about the online radio station’s history, their content curation strategies, current plans in the works, and so much more.

Photography by daniela klee

Would you mind introducing (Lilies) to us and including a short description of the type of work which your organisation does?

We Are Lilies: Lilies is an online radio station and record label that explores ways to reflect on and share stories centered on the lived experiences, voices and sounds of marginalised folk in South Africa through music and conversation. A space for meaningful solidarities, friendships and other connections to form.

How big is the Lilies team and where is your organisation actually based?

We Are Lilies: Well, it’s just me, Likhona, who runs and oversees all that happens with Lilies. 

However, I would say that without all the friends and family who contribute regular and once-off radio shows; design art for album covers, posters and merchandise; write original music for the label and everything else we end up doing we’d be nowhere.

So, the actual family is just over twenty people strong (and growing) as we speak. There’ve been many more who have helped us out over the years too! 

Our organisation exists almost entirely online, which means a lot of our contributors are based all over the country and abroad. So, there isn’t an actual base. But, I am based in Johannesburg, so I guess any physical activity revolves around here. 

Photograph by Likhona Camane

As an emerging local online radio station — what has been your biggest achievement thus far?

We Are Lilies: That’s quite tricky to answer, to be honest. Sometimes there are little things that feel like massive wins, and then there are big things that have happened that feel just as great. So, I don’t know if I can single any of those out.

One thing I could highlight, as a radio station and record label, is the fact that we have been finding and forming such genuine and strong connections with our peers. And we have all really started to grow alongside each other, help out where we can, and do it all without ever feeling like it’s a competition. 

I don’t even know if that’s a big achievement but having a reliable, supportive and warm community of people to be able to do your work in, without any external pressures has been such a freeing and beautiful thing to see and be a part of. 

Through these more collective, unified projects that we have been doing with the likes of Radio AlHara (a 24-hour radio broadcast we co-curated with a range of collectives like us in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle these connections have really been made clear.

Photograph by Likhona Camane

I also see that you host various DJ residencies/online shows how important is the process of collaboration to you?

We Are Lilies: Our radio programme hosts various DJs, artists, writers and other people in the community and our label has a wide catalogue of sounds and styles. Everyone involved with us is encouraged to find ways of collaborating with each other, or other people with similar or interesting ideas to help achieve the approach they may want to try out with their radio show or release on the label. It’s an extremely valuable part of the process in anything we do. 

Having started this project alone, I’ve learnt just how much we need each other to fully do what we want to do. And having an extra pair of ears or a person to talk to about something, can go a long way in developing whatever it is you want to do. 

I’ve realised that we’re all just trying to find spaces where we can feel free to explore ideas we wouldn’t ‘normally’ try out, and to do that by bouncing those ideas off of the people around you free of judgement.

That’s the kind of space we’re trying to build here. Beyond that, collaborating with other people and collectives has gone a long way in making sure these sorts of connections and collaborations can start forming. 

What are your future hopes or ambitions, for the local online music landscape, such as online radio?

We Are Lilies: I just hope there is more experimentation, more collaboration and more conversation.

Radio is the best space for all of these things to happen, and the more we invest and support independent, artist-centred radio the more we can do that. 

And finally – what are your plans for the remainder of 2021?

We Are Lilies: Cooling down for a bit, our fourth birthday celebration at the end of the year and making more plans for the year ahead.Nothing too wild just yet!

Photography by daniela klee

Photograph by Likhona Camane

Photography by daniela klee

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