The Toronto-born, California-based singer-songwriter Lila Rose has grown up with two great passions in her life: music, and an interest in protecting our planet and the millions of creatures big and small that call it home. But with those loves have come pains as well. She was born with a form of hyperacusis, a sensitivity that makes some natural sounds unbearable, and some music even more intense to listen to. Too, there was the seeming indifference of a great many people to the plight of our environment.
Lila Rose has already found a way to push back against her discomfort with sound to make some beautiful and challenging music. But she has long wanted to use that same fighting spirit to dare us humans to be better stewards of our planet with an album that vents her frustration and expresses her affection. What she wasn’t sure of was whether she could, which is why she sought the services of a clairvoyant, seeking the answer to whether it was time to bring this album to life.
“She said, ‘No, you have another album in you before the animal album,’” remembers Rose. “Well...she was wrong.”
It’s a tidy metaphor for Rose’s drive to make WE.ANIMALS. in the first place: rather than listen to the voice of a human, she decided to listen to the cries of our home planet and the countless number of animal species that are endangered or extinct due to mans’ mistreatment and disregard. And what came out as a result are 11 songs which matche her dismay and distress with music that is loud, brash, and unavoidable.
Recorded at both a small studio in the woods outside Santa Cruz and at world famous Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, WE.ANIMALS. uses the music to reflect its thematic concerns as well. Rose and her producer/bandmate Daniel Garcia moved away from the electronic-based sound that marked her acclaimed 2012 album Heart Machine, using mostly live instrumentation to complement the tone of the lyrics.
“Daniel helped me understand that I had some dark rock in my soul,” Rose says. “He definitely brought that out in me. That dark organic weird heavy sound like Nine Inch Nails, Tool, and Radiohead. We also definitely wanted to hold instruments in our hands as opposed to sitting in front of a computer.”
There are plenty of electronic elements - the thrumming drone of synths and some programmed beats - threaded throughout WE.ANIMALS. but what you’ll hear foremost are those big booming drums, the horns and strings, and Rose’s versatile, impassioned vocals.
Of course, Rose has been getting attention for her pointed lyrics and stirring voice since she started making music back in Toronto in the late ‘00s. But the majority of the raves have come since she relocated to California. It’s there that she was able to record her first EP (Osmos Your Sonica) and Heart Machine, as well as being named Best Bay Area Musician in 2014 by the East Bay Express.
As great as all this attention has been, Rose has bigger aims in mind, especially when WE.ANIMALS. is brought into the world this spring, and she is able to bring them to audiences on her upcoming tour, which kicks off in May.
“I want people to see the interconnectedness of all life,” she says. “I want the music to allow people to feel the expansiveness of their emotions, and to feel passionate and angry and inspired to make change in our lives for the greater scope of things.”