Inside Rilo Kiley's Dirty Mind

Things always look different under a blacklight. You might find something that you didn't know was there and that isn't particularly pretty.

-Jenny Lewis


Rilo Kiley
In the three years since their big label debut, More Adventurous, Lewis released a critically heralded solo album with The Watson Twins, Rabbit Fur Coat, that found her snuggling up with buddies like Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst and dipping into gospel and folk. Where Lewis' voice mostly stands alone in Rilo Kiley, what's revealed in these collaborations is one of the finest harmony singers of our time.

"Both my mother and sister are singers, so I grew up singing harmony with them," Lewis says. "Musically, after the song is written, I tend to hear the harmonies first. So, in working with the twins [The Watson Twins], I was able to fulfill those moments both live and in the studio. I was also able to complete the story without having to sing the responses myself. I tend to overwrite sometimes and have a difficult time letting stuff go, so the twins would pick up the phrases that were a little clumsy for me to sing. I really enjoy singing with other people. It is something that you can take with you without having to set up an amp or microphone. It is a really pure form of music. On Under The Blacklight, we were lucky to work with the Waters [Maxine, Julia and Oren Waters], who have been singing on amazing sessions for years. They sang on Thriller."

Jenny Lewis
Lewis' creative foil in Rilo Kiley, Blake Sennett, also explored other pastures with his paisley Brit-inflected side project, The Elected.

"Time apart tends to refresh the relationships both musically and personally," observes Lewis. "I've always been a fan of vocal harmonies, which I was able to explore with The Watson Twins on Rabbit Fur Coat. I then brought elements of my record to some of the new Rilo Kiley songs. The Elected has also had an effect on the sound of the band. Within our other bands we are able to explore ideas more thoroughly than in Rilo Kiley, where we tend to touch on a lot of musical styles and ideas. 'I Never' from More Adventurous was the song that spawned my solo record. It's sort of an r&b song with group backing vocals. They're kind of buried in the mix but they're in there."

Rilo Kiley gets a fair amount of press coverage these days, with cover stories, large features and a significant presence in the U.K. music rags. The recent cover of the "Hot 100" issue of Blender announced "Sexytime With Rilo Kiley." Inside, they declare Lewis has become "a sex symbol to a legion of lust-deprived indie-rock fanboys." So, what's the price of fame?

"Although our shows have grown in size over the years, it's not as if we have stalkers or get stopped in the streets. It feels pretty similar. The intention or process hasn't really changed as a result. Although, as Blake and myself become more independent from each other musically, the output tends to be more diverse."

Under The Blacklight may winnow away at Lewis' blasé attitude towards stardom as the record is being positioned for widespread mainstream consumption that will build on their previous cult status. Already the press is reporting on Lewis' romantic entanglements (current beau? Emerging singer-songwriter Johnathan Rice) and the scrutiny is only going to escalate as Rilo Kiley is planted squarely in the spotlight. Like many L.A. bands before them, the record industry machinery often supplants whatever intentions one goes in with. But that's the kind of thing that's sometimes revealed beneath blacklights.

JamBase | City of Angels
Go See Live Music!

[Published on: 8/23/07]

Take full advantage of all JamBase has to offer by signing up for an account!

You'll receive

show alerts

when your favorite artists announce shows, be eligible to enter contests for

free tickets

, gain the ability to

share your personalized live music calendar

and much more. Join JamBase!




moejoerisin Thu 8/23/2007 08:32PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


such a good band. such a hot singer. though that's not what makes them good, it's undeniably true.

zzdowz Thu 8/23/2007 08:54PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Rilo Kiley is evolving. Living in Omaha I hear a bunch of bitching (especailly my saddle creek sister) about how much they sold out for leaving Saddle Creek. Regardless I like the step they have taken and wish them the best of luck.

cuttyfives Thu 8/23/2007 10:08PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

jenny lewis....shhwing!!

HoodooVoodoo Thu 8/23/2007 11:15PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Good old Katie Monnahan...

MaseBase starstarstarstarstar Fri 8/24/2007 01:41AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Yes, this band is great and I love the album!

delaneyira star Fri 8/24/2007 07:44AM
Show -8 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
delaneyira star Fri 8/24/2007 07:47AM
Show -8 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
All Loving Liberal White Guy Fri 8/24/2007 08:05AM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

All Loving Liberal White Guy

I was watching that movie "The Wizard" not too long ago with Fred Savage and his little brother who is a quiet video game prodigy and Jenny Lewis was like 12 in that and played that runaway drifter girl. Man, that film is good. And Chritian Slater is in it too. Remember in the end when they had to play Super Mario 3 and that one kid Lucas was a whiz with that Nintendo power glove.

Delaneyira, grab your violin and cry me a river. Rilo Kiley rules. If you don't like them, so be it. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but you still reinforce the stereotype of the typical narrow minded jam-fan. To imply that Rilo Kiley doesn't practice a lot is ludacris.

keithrichardsforpres starstarstarstar Fri 8/24/2007 08:10AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


delaneyira - there is more to music than practicing scales

ganjjjj star Fri 8/24/2007 08:16AM
Show -6 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
keithrichardsforpres starstarstar Fri 8/24/2007 08:28AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


ganjjjj - do you think that Bob Dylan used to run scales all day and night? How bout David Byrne? Technique is not music. It's one piece of the puzzle, and it's what those who don't posses the innate musical talents often use to try to cover up their lack of soul. There is definitely a place for technique as exhibited by artists like Coltrane, or Zappa, or Garcia, but it's not a means to an end. As for what JamBase does and doesn't need to cover, if you don't care to read about something than don't, but there might be lots on this site who've overlooked this great band previously and might find enjoyment from their music.


RothburyWithCheese starstarstarstarstar Fri 8/24/2007 08:36AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Musically they are not the best band ever, but there lyrics are solid and jenny lewis is a goddess. Cant wait to see her, i mean them, at stubbs in october.

keithrichardsforpres Fri 8/24/2007 08:52AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


ganjjjj/Garlic Pepsi - I will agree with you that the hype factor these days is off the charts for many of these indie bands, and I often hate them even before I listen just due to the annoying amount of hype surrounding them. A lot of Rilo Kiley's music blows me away though (some of it bores me). Check out "Pictures of Success" off Take Offs and Landings, it's a fucking great and interesting pop song (pop in the way of the Beatles or Talking Heads, not the annoying pop). Thanks JamBase for trying to cut through the hype and bring forth the bands that actually deserve it.

ganjjjj star Fri 8/24/2007 09:04AM
Show -6 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
ganjjjj star Fri 8/24/2007 09:05AM
Show -6 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
theivywall starstarstarstarstar Fri 8/24/2007 09:35AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

theivywall that you? Jambase???

EVILFUNK star Fri 8/24/2007 12:02PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!



treetops78 starstarstarstarstar Fri 8/24/2007 12:24PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


delaneyira, I would say that Jenny Lewis CAN sing! After seeing them front and center at Bonnaroo a few years ago, I can personally attest to that.

PEPSI, I thought she was much better in Troop Beverly Hills. Did I just admit to seeing that movie??

Oh, Jenny!

toejamfball Fri 8/24/2007 02:44PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I dig the Rilo.. Heading up to Asheville in a month tho check out Trampled by Turtles and Rilo kiley on the same night at 2 separate venues. Both these bands jam on the respective musical spectrum's. Keep on rocking.

roberto767 starstarstarstarstar Fri 8/24/2007 02:54PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Anyone remember that TV show called Brooklyn Bridge? Jenny Lewis was in that show too. She played this slutty girl that the boy used to bone in his spare time.

cocheese Mon 8/27/2007 06:22AM
-2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


i think jambase just pulled this from SPIN magazine. i got a subscription to SPIN for free with my ticket to the 'Roo, and i'm starting to notice a trend here. is jambase owned by SPIN??? i hope not, cause that magazine sucks. oh and that song and video sucks too.

chappy starstar Mon 8/27/2007 12:44PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


so im biting on the hype and listening to the album right now.. on first listen, alot of this shit is cheesy pop...overly produced..nothing raw about it..the songs/lyrics are pretty empty...every song has a diff. feel, but the female vocals always sound like a sub-par sra my bag..and I usually vibe with Jambase for the most part... wtf? i hope this is not a new precedent for JB..

kirkbrew Mon 8/27/2007 03:27PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Really like Rilo and Jenny, but Moneymaker is probably the worst song I have ever heard. Fake Bowie Fame-esque riff and tedious lyrics. Really disappointing.

All Loving Liberal White Guy Tue 8/28/2007 12:23AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

All Loving Liberal White Guy


Jambase is not Spin Magazine aka "we'll give this band a very good review if you're label buys a full page ad."

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Wed 8/29/2007 05:33AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

I am very amused reading all these comments!! what great entertainment!!

On my own personal note, working in radio, I am often FORCED to listen to particular artists I may not care about. example, jason isbell. His album is much better than I expected and I really do not mind listening to some of the tracks. I would not go see him, or buy the album, but there are some decent tracks on it and I feel no shame to play it.

This album from Rilo Kiley is tooooo POP for me. I play it sure, but I think its campy, with no real guts. I respect others to like POP if they want and I certainly realize, that Rilo Kiley is much better than many other pop artists out there.. I have heard worse. =)

kirkbrew Wed 8/29/2007 01:48PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Garlic Pepsi - Good point, but has JamBase ever panned an album?

I just sat through Moneymaker again since the version posted here is shorter than what is on the RK site. Painful!!! As good as these guys are, I just can’t imagine why they would put out something so musically and lyrically pathetic.

I really liked More Adventurous and just can't but help to think that this latest effort will be anything but. I’ll give it a listen, but doubt I will ever listen to Moneymaker again.

kirkbrew Mon 9/17/2007 02:09PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


WOW - One of the worst albums I have EVER listened to. I could only give it about 3/4 of a listen. Serious dissapointment.

jonathanleeder starstarstarstarstar Thu 9/27/2007 09:07AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

These guys are def a unique special band. I saw them the other night in Philly and they didn't dissapoint. The new album is awesome. I guess at the Trocadero, they also have smaller bands play AFTER the headliners which was interesting. The crew I was with still wanted to party after Rilo Kiley's set so we went to the bar and smaller stage upstairs and saw a kickass band called EXIT CLOV. Has anybody seen them before? They were nasty. Anyway, we def got our money's worth after seeing two very cool bands play full sets. More venues should do the same thing.