As a fervent champion of LGBTQIA+ rights, South African singer-songwriter and activist Amy Lilley poured her hard-earned experiences into her debut album Petrichor. She took her time crafting a delicate and nostalgic alternative pop sound—which made her an Apple Music Up Next artist in 2022—influenced by the narrative-rooted songs of Bruce Springsteen and Patsy Cline. “The reason I love making music is the connection that’s made through it, and this is the best representation of my capabilities to do that,” Lilley tells Apple Music. “This album is the way that I share myself with the world in the best way that I can.” Named after the pleasant smell that accompanies the first rain after a long period of warm weather, Petrichor is steeped in nostalgia and contemplation, and finds Lilley on the other side of her own metaphorical rain. “Life is transient,” she adds. “It’s not going to be this way forever, so whatever moment you’re in now, it’s elusive and the next thing is always coming.” Read on as Lilley talks us through the album’s nine tracks, which she hopes will be received with open arms and ears by those who need to hear her self-affirming messages the most. “Miles” “This track was the first one [producer and writer] Greg [Abrahams] and I made together. We didn’t know we were going to make an album together at all. I was just in for a random studio session, not knowing what I was going to do next. Then he did that guitar riff, and I was like, ‘That sounds like Twin Peaks,’ which I loved when I was growing up. He just kept playing it over and over again and then I came up with the first line, that ‘Hold on, don’t go.’ Then we left it for two weeks and we couldn’t think of anything else. So when I came into the studio the next time, he was like, ‘Amy, we have to do the song. We can’t leave it.’ So he got me on the mic and what you hear is the first take I did. That was just me riffing.” “One more night” “Even if you’re with someone and you know it’s bad, you always just want one more night. And you tell yourself after that you can let it go, but you can never let it go. ‘Oh, I just want one more night with you, even though I know it’s going to kill me.’ This song is about that for me.” “Video Games” “Growing up, I was so shy and I couldn’t talk to anyone. So with this track I thought, ‘What if I just wrote back to myself, but in a fun way?’ Being queer back when I was 13 was really scary, so I just wanted to kind of write to my former self and say, ‘Hey, even though you were that nerd, it worked out well for you, and I wish I could tell you that.’ It was very much a song for me to write a happy song about a sad memory.” “These walls” (feat. Manana) “[Lilley’s label] Platoon set Manana and I up together at a Milestone Session. I’d never met Manana before, and he just got on the piano and started playing the four chords that are in the song. I always pick favorite words that I think would be good at the time to write a song about, and I really like the phrase ‘dead weight,’ like you’re dating someone who’s just a dead weight. We wanted to make it like a 2000s R&B song so it’s quite narrative at the same time. We brought in these Spanish 2000s guitars that Craig David always used, and we just had a lot of fun.” “Heavy” (feat. MOONGA K.) “The piano that’s in the recording is my piano at home, and I just recorded it on my cell phone. I was playing those chords and my flatmate at the time was in the kitchen, and he’s a gay man who was crying over this guy, saying, ‘Amy, I just don’t get men.’ We started writing that song together about how even though, as a queer women who doesn’t have a relationship with men in a romantic way, they’re still much very part of my existence as a woman, unfortunately. And then my housemate as a man, being queer and having a romantic relationship with men, there’s a toxicity in that too.” “Thelma and Louise” “Even though Thelma and Louise were an iconic couple, they did kill each other in the end, so I kind of wanted to play on that and make it a breakup song, but almost a hateful song as well. I also wanted to make it the poppiest track on the album. I think it’s got a really, really catchy chorus. I wanted people to hear it and think that they can get out of a bad situation. That it’s not just them, there’s someone out there who’s also dealing with someone who is really, really not good for them.” “Bowie” “The construction of this song is in threes, so it’s almost a waltz. I really wanted people to dance to it. I think I was picturing someone dancing on their wedding day to this song. That’s what I would love, if someone could identify it with the love of their life, or if it was a special song for someone to say, ‘I love you.’ That would be the best thing for me.” “Rhinestone River” “I love the song ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’ by Glen Campbell, and I was listening to it quite a lot. I love that idea of a Rhinestone River being this beautiful space where good energy is flowing, and it’s OK to be queer. It was just something I made up as a metaphor for being free and getting out of a place where it was quite hard to be queer. I wanted to write it in such a narrative way for someone who’s on a road trip, or getting out of a small town. I wanted to start off quite slow, and then when you get to the bridge, you’re actually getting out of there, and the chorus just drives the whole way through.” “Leave me out” (feat. Jabulile Majola) “This feels like the perfect endnote for me. It’s all these big choirs and there’s no drums. It’s completely voice-driven—it’s me and Jabulile—and it’s just got this almost Life of Pablo, Kanye West feel to it, with a big church element. The song is saying, you’ve always kind of been alone and then, when you find someone, you get so scared you’ll be alone again that you ask them, ‘Please just don’t leave me out of anything.’ It’s kind of heartbreaking yet hopeful at the same time.”

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