Day Jobs - Will From Lilac
This Dreamy SF Grunge Duo Is Dying To Cook You Dinner.
Kirsten Knick and Will Ivy
Every week I learn so much about bands and their jobs. Whilst chatting with Will Ivy from San Francisco-based band Lilac, I found out that you can get a job just by standing around looking "artsy" at Trader Joe’s, but advertising yourself as a “nice person” on Craigslist will get you nowhere. I also learned that all those quirky people working at the cosmetic store LUSH have been force-fed their quirkiness by being instructed to emulate certain movie characters. Who knew, right? While Will and his bandmate Kirsten hole up in Different Fur Studios to prepare a new album (a follow-up to Christine, which was released only two weeks ago), they’re finding creative ways to make ends meet, some which have shown absolutely no success.
You can snag a copy of Christine right here. Before we get to the interview, press that little play button to stream the entire record:
NOISEY: Hey Will! How are you?
Will: I’m good!
Tell me – what do you do for a living?
Well I haven’t been doing anything that crazy to make money. I’ve been working at Trader Joe’s. However, this delirious old couple came in one day and started talking to me. For whatever reason, we ended up talking about how I need more money. They were like “Oh that’s great! Are you an artist?” I was like “I guess?” They asked me if I could make a color palette and I was like “No…?” but they were like “Of course you can! You’re perfect. You’re the perfect guy for the job.”
For what job?
Well, so I took down their number and drove out to their house and acted as their color consultant. The husband used to work for the railroad and talked about that non-stop. They asked me how much I charged so I just said $500 and he told me he inherited a million dollars because he has all this union money. It literally took me one trip to Home Depot and I just kind of walked through their house and pointed at things and told them to paint it a certain color. The husband was like, “Wow! I’m so impressed. You’re so good at this.”
[Laughs] What was it about you at Trader Joe’s that made them think that you would be a great color consultant?
Yeah, literally nothing. I was just standing there. It was so weird. I guess I looked "artsy." I was like “I can’t do the job” but they urged me to do it.
Well apparently you’re great at it! You got lucky with that.
Yeah, sometimes I think, ‘Did I trick them? How did I get them to pay me that much money to do something so simple?’
So you basically just point at walls and tell them which color to paint them, right?
Right. It was kind of difficult because they lived in an old linoleum house but they wanted me to transform it into this palace. There was not much I could do.
I love that he was like “I have a million dollars” but hired this random amateur from Trader Joe’s.
Here’s the cool part: when I went there the first time, this guy was sitting on the porch and he had this super long beard and he was skinny and out-of-it looking. The husband introduced him as Hank, the guy who does all the labor around the house. I said hi and he was like, “yeah, how’s it going,” in a groggy voice. He didn’t say anything else. The second time, Hank wasn’t there so I asked where he was. The husband told me, “yeah, Hank’s got some problems. He’s a Vietnam vet so he’s still shell-shocked. He’s homeless and drinks in the park and it’s hard to get him to follow through on doing work on the house because he gets fucked up and falls over.”
[Laughs] And he supposedly does all the labor in the house?
Yeah, Hank can build a house from the ground up. He just… doesn’t.
They really know how to hire ‘em, don’t they? Anyway, I heard you guys have resorted to doing gigs on Craigslist also.
Yeah, to little success we posted a series of things like “Nice people who want to help you decorate your house” or “Nice people who want to help you with your pet-sitting.” My personal favorite is I had this idea that I could be a mini-caterer. We posted “Let us come over and cook you dinner!”
Ha! Did anyone reply?
Yeah I don’t really trust people who refer to themselves as “nice people” on Craigslist.
Yeah, totally. I thought it would be cool for people to have strangers come into their kitchen and hang out but I guess not. If they knew me, it would be different. They would totally pay me.
[Laughs] I know, right? So, tell me about your new album Christine!
We recorded it a long time ago but we were fortunate enough to record at Different Fur Studios. The owner and manager Patrick Brown has taken a liking towards us so we could take a long amount of time to record and make it sound good. I’m really happy with the way it turned out.
You guys are already back in the studio working on your next record, right?
Yes! This new one will be poppier. Previously our sound was more grunge but we just moved to Los Angeles from San Francisco and the weather is so nice that it’s hard to be angsty.
But the weather is nice in San Francisco too!
Yeah, but it feels claustrophobic. I’m actually back here today and the day I arrived there was a street carnival and I couldn’t even get to the other side of the street.
So you go there and produce angsty music.
Since your music writing seems to be affected by whatever region you’re in, where would you like to be next?
Since I’m so new to LA, I’d like to enjoy that for a while but I’m enamored by New Orleans. I’d love to travel and record in every city, though.
And start making world music.
Ha, yeah. Exactly!
So will you be continuing your career as a color consultant?
I don’t think so, but I should get some after pictures of the couple’s house and hope one of their friends call me. I’ll quit my day job. My brain’s not built for a straight job.
Lastly, what is the worst job you’ve had?
I used to work at that bath products store, LUSH. It was terrible. I hated smearing cream on gross people’s hair. Also, when they hire you, they show you High Fidelity as an example of how you should treat customers.
Seriously? They sit you down and make you watch the movie?
Yeah. They want you to be quirky and weird, like Jack Black’s character. They’re like, “We want you to have fun! Engage people with your quirks! Force them to buy things they don’t want!”
[Laughs] That sounds absolutely terrible.
It really was. And everyday I would leave smelling like a coagulation of every product in the store.
Well then I wish you much success on the band! I’m really looking forward to the next record.
Thank you! It’ll be ready soon.