Music from the soul: Cape Town singer Amy Lilley pours her life experiences into her songs

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Amy Lilley
Amy Lilley
Photo: Xavier Vahed
  • Cape Town singer Amy Lilley opened up about penning music that speaks to the soul.
  • The muso has received massive attention for her track, Formidable, and is now gearing up to release her debut EP.
  • But Amy is more than just a singer, she also chats about what it has been like trying to keep her business afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.


Amy Lilley juggles many titles -- chef, activist and business owner. But if you've kept your ears glued to your local radio station, you'll know of one more that has allowed her to reach the hearts of thousands -- singer. 

The Cape Town musician's track, Formidable, has been a fan-favourite on local music charts. In an interview with Channel24, Amy says it's the honesty behind the song that has allowed so many people to gravitate towards it. 

"I wasn't trying to sugarcoat how I was feeling or try and write a song to appeal to many people. I was just writing about my own experiences with self-doubt and being your own worst enemy," she says, adding that everyone can relate to the song in their own way. 

"These high and lows are formidable/But I can take it/I crash and burn like a wrecking ball/But I can change it," the lyrics to the song read. It's an open expression of some of the dark days many people have experienced during lockdown, and a reminder that we will overcome.

Amy says it was important for her to just be real "especially during this time when things are so difficult and so uncertain. To just be honest about feeling a bit sad or overwhelmed and to know that you'll get over it. We're going to get through whatever's happening to us right now."

Like all of us, the singer has felt the full effects of the pandemic, including the highs and lows it brings with it. Amy runs the Raptor Room in Cape Town -- a live music venue which is all about creating a safe space and promoting inclusivity. She admits the lockdown has been "a bit scary" as a business owner, but with help from those close to her, she has been managing.

"Fortunately we've had so many people reach out to us and support us. My landlord has been amazing [and] the queer community has been incredible. So, we've had to definitely think creatively, but we have been holding on. I think live music venues are so important, so we're going to be around for the foreseeable future."

Amy describes the Raptor Room as "a queer-friendly space" and a "safe space for women". 

"Cause Cape Town can be a bit cliquey, you know? Like everyone gets in their little groups. So we wanted to make a space that was outside of that. It's for everyone; it's inclusive."

While working hard to keep business her going, Amy has also spent this time working on her debut EP. She refers to the body of work as a "melting pot of all the kinds of music I like".

The singer draws on her own experiences, as well as the experiences of those around, her to create music that speaks to the soul. 

In No Show, her follow-up to Formidable, Amy sings about being stood up by her partner at an airport. "We were supposed to go to Spain together, and she just never showed. She kind of kicked my heart in the ass," she explains.

Although it stems from heartache, she calls the track one of her favourites. 

Amy Lilley's EP launches on Friday 28 August. 

Listen to No Show below:


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