Lily Vakili Band
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Lily Vakili Band

Montclair, New Jersey, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | AFTRA

Montclair, New Jersey, United States | AFTRA
Established on Jan, 2015
Band Rock Alternative




"Lily Vakili’s new single “She Wants What”"

New Jersey based alt punk folk rock songwriter and performer Lily Vakili’s new single “She Wants What” continues blazing an upward trajectory for a multi-cultural artist who transcends genres and labels. “She Wants What” is the lead-off release from Vakili’s upcoming EP release Set of Seven and sets an authoritative tone for that seven track collection thanks to its convincing anthemic hard rock character. Producer and engineer David Amlen captures something close to the qualities of a live Vakili performance in a studio setting – no small feat/ Despite pursuing her musical vision in earnest only for a brief time, Vakili’s songwriting and recordings exude hard-hitting confidence far beyond the purview of typical artists at this stage in their development. She pulls the inherent passion of this song from the marrow of her own life; she has a background as a lawyer, disability rights advocate, a poet, actress, human rights researcher, and dancer. You can hear that bubbling to the surface throughout this performance.
The guitars powering “She Wants What” are cut from a proto-punk blues rock cloth. They snap and flare with such spontaneity it isn’t difficult to imagine that Vakili and her band cut this song live in the studio with the full band playing together in the same room. There are some dynamic shifts layered into the arrangement’s second half, but the order of the day throughout is, more or less, a headlong rush with minimal fuss adorning the recording. The rhythm section provides solid ballast for the performance, as well, without ever falling into predictable and uncreative patterns. “She Wants What” has, in particular, percussion hammering away at listeners while still retaining the necessary musicality to prevent it from ever descending into mindless bash and thud nonsense.
The lyrics share the same straight forward attitude we hear in the musical performance. Lily Vakili understands how to write in a way tailored to the song’s aural needs while still making a personal and succinctly worded personal statement. Lean economy pervades the cut in multiple ways and Vakili underlines this quality in the words with wide-eyed on point phrasing that pulls zero punches and imposes its will over listeners. She sings with total abandon, but it isn’t an artless yowl. She gives every ounce of herself over to the moment but remains cognizant throughout of her need to communicate with the listener rather than overwhelming them with sheer sonic velocity.
There are anthemic elements to this track, but it never plays it safe, follows a cookie cutter approach, or reeks of predictability. Accomplishing all this within such a condensed frame is a powerful illustration of the talent Vakili and her cohorts possess; as an early preview of what awaits listeners on her new EP Set of Seven, it promises that the upcoming release will be one of the most impressive of 2019. Anyone who hasn’t exposed themselves to Lily Vakili’s talents should make it a priority to hear this single and seek out the EP when its release date hits.
by Jodi Marxbury
Share - Vents Magazine

"Female Rocker Super power"

Thank you for being part of our zine. Tell us more about your beginnings in the industry!

Thanks for having me! I’m not new to music, but I’m pretty new to the music industry. I guess making my first album – a solo album in a basement in southern jersey – was my first entry. That was the first time I started thinking seriously about the production side of the business – it took doing a second solo album before I realized – oh, holy hell – this is a MONSTER of an industry. I decided to pull my own band together and make my music the way I wanted to. Of course, working with industry veterans like David Amlen (Sound on Sound Studios), Ray Ketchem (Magic Door Studios) and Jim Mastro (Ian Hunter & the Rant Band), among others, is an incredible education if you’re paying attention.

Where are you located now and where are you originally from?

I was born in La Lima, Honduras. Now, I live in the great state of New Jersey. I can tell you that getting from one to the other wasn’t a straight line, not by a long shot.

Goals for 2019 and beyond?

I live for goals, so in terms of the band – tour everywhere we’re wanted in support of our second band EP – Set of Seven – (dropping early 2020) and, of course, make more music together. My always and forever personal goals are to keep paying attention, show up and speak up for peace, love & justice, and stay true to myself, my family and my friends.

What have been the specific challenges in your career so far? What have been the greatest achievements so far?

As a female rocknroller with a pretty full life already lived under my belt, one challenge has been to convince people to listen my music without bias – once they do, especially once someone sees us perform live, they’re usually totally in. The greatest achievements of my music career so far are (i) making and maintaining the band and (ii) having so many fans tell us to “keep going, don’t stop!”. It’s the best feeling knowing we’re connecting with people in a positive, powerful way.

Please answer the following... "If my fans really knew me,they would know that...

I’m funny as hell -as in the-family-clown funny (a good skill being the 5th of 6 kids…). One of my sisters has been trying to convince me to do stand up for YEARS.

Who are your top inspirations?

My mother and father

Having accomplished so much in your career, are there more dreams you hope to conquer?

I'm always dreaming – so yeah – but I don’t want to conquer my dreams, I want to live them!

Any words of wisdom for your fans out there?

Listen to your heart, find the people who share your dreams and build something beautiful together. Don’t stop just because it’s hard – and keep in mind - as my mother told me: “no one else will do it for you”.

Please list your social media links so our readers can follow you everywhere!

You can always find us on


And check out my new music video - B Squared Magazine

"PREMIERE | Lily Vakili Band Tears It Up On ‘She Wants What’"

Alt-punk-folk-rocker Lily Vakili premieres the lead single, “She Wants What,” from her new EP Set of Seven.
Engineered and produced by David Amlen of Sound on Sound Studios, Set of Seven displays the brilliant talents of The Lily Vakili Band: Ben St. Jacques (lead guitar), who co-wrote “She Wants What,” Cecile Williams (backing vocals), Joel Dorow (harmonica), Jim Tyndal (bass), and Gordon Kuba (drums).
Now based in New Jersey, Vakili was born in Honduras, grew up in an Irish-Iranian family, and lived in a variety of interesting locations: Honduras, Florida, Puerto Rico, Iowa, and Thailand. She explains, “I was born in Honduras during a military coup, and my Iranian-born dad, a boxer, artist and scientist who traveled the world studying diseases in tropical plants, had to walk over bloodied soldiers in the hospital to welcome me to the world. He’s always said that set the stage for everything else in my life.”
Later, Vakili trained as a dancer, and then left home to hook up with a theatre troupe in Minneapolis, followed by working as an actress, summer stage director, choreographer, corn detasseler, night nurse, human rights researcher, and waitress. Somewhere in there she found time to become a lawyer, and a mother of three.

Lily Vakili Band — ‘She Wants What’
Commenting on her peripatetic tour through life, Vakili says, “When you grow up as a citizen of the world, you learn that the universe is open to you. There are definitely drawbacks to moving around so much, but the upside is that you’re able to inhabit and observe different cultures and environments and draw inspiration from them. You learn to live freely, and you sort of realize life is not lived in a single location, but in your mind.”
Eventually, it struck her that she needed to pursue her creative instincts. Her mother, who was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, spoke words of Sibylline impact. According to Vakili, “I told my mom that I had to get back to a creative life, and even said I don’t think I can go on if I don’t,” she says. “My mom looked at me with her steady, clear, blue green eyes, and said, ‘What’s stopping you? No one else will do it for you.’ That was the moment of my liberation.”
Not long after, Vakili released Lake City/Next 3 Exits, followed by Meadowlands, followed by forming her band, allowing for more sonic scope and dimension.
“She Wants What” opens on dirty, snarling guitars flowing into a bluesy alt-rock melody spiked with punk muscle, as Vakili’s fierce, penetrating voice infuses the lyrics with visceral energy and wickedly delicious scowling textures.
“She’s at a tractor pull / Hot dog in her hand — a mouthful / Death metal tats all the way down / Warning you stand back cuz / She wants what / She wants what / She wants what she wants.”
The brawny rhythm rides a dark cavernous bassline and hammer-of-the-gods drums, raw and crunching. Searing, grimacing licks from St. Jacques’ guitar add fulminating accents, as the assertive voices of Williams and Vakili deliver charring vocal harmonies. A moaning rumbling breakdown, with Hephaestus-like drums and blistering guitar licks, leads to anabolic dynamism of vast proportions.
“She Wants What” sizzles with raw throbbing colors, sassy brio, and prodigiously dangerous vocals. This song is laced up and locked in! - Medium


New Jersey’s Lily Vakili Band is poised to hit a higher stride than ever before thanks to the new single “She Wants What”. The first single from her soon to be released new EP Set of Seven throws down a gauntlet of sorts; Vakili, after seven years pursuing her musical ambitions, has lost none of the initial momentum that compelled her to move into the performing world. The new single is rousing reminder of the internal need to express herself driving her to form this band and begin writing songs for release. The new song doesn’t just speak for herself; it speaks for a wide swath of like-minded listeners who, without question, will feel close knit solidarity with this performance and newcomers to her art will feel invigorated by the full throated and unfettered passion she brings to this track.

Vakili has, more or less, traveled the world and has exposed herself to a wide variety of experiences during the course of her life. The breadth of life she has witnessed manifests itself in the palpable confidence you hear in “She Wants What” – this is a self-possessed performer with an unabashed willingness to put herself on the line each time out. Putting herself on the line comes across in her ability to throw herself headlong into this performance and others. Vakili holds nothing back and the absolute commitment she brings to each line and it is matched by the band’s unfettered passion as players. The guitar work, in particular, sizzles.


There is a generous amount of lead guitar built into the performance though there’s never any sort of emphasis on those sorts of instrumental moments you might hear in similar tracks from different performances. The hard-hitting rhythm section attack has a fat presence in the mix without ever overwhelming other elements, but the central force driving this track forward is Vakili’s vocal. She is a kinetic presence in the performance from the first line to the last and rivets listener’s attention.

“She Wants What” has clear subject matter and Vakili’s songwriting doesn’t waste any time making its point. The theme of self=empowerment and asserting your individuality makes itself heard from the outset and Vakili avoids any excessive wordiness getting this over with listeners. It’s an outstanding accomplishment all around, but even more so when listeners take into account the brevity of the song. It has an almost punk rock focus – a little over two minutes reflects the no-nonsense approach Vakili and her band adopt in pushing the musical message. It is impossible to find any self indulgence weighing this track down.

It’s exactly the kind of recording with the potential to bring Lily Vakili to an even wider audience than before. Her musical career hasn’t been long, per se, but she already displays the seasoned attributes of a veteran singer/songwriter while losing none of the inflamed passions common to emerging artists. She sings like she has something to prove and the band plays like it as well. “She Wants What” crackles and bristles with genuine rock and roll spirit.


Garth Thomas - Hollywood Digest


Solo EP: Meadowlands, produced by Jim Mastro (Bongos, the Rant Band), recorded at Mozart Studios.

1st Band EP: Oh Alright, produced by Ray Ketchem of Magic Door Recording (and Elk City).

Band Single: She Wants What, produced by David Amlen of Sound on Sound Studios, mastered by Hans DeKline.



Songwriter and performer, Lily Vakili, has been on a wild ride: “I was born in Honduras during a military coup,” says the New Jersey-based artist, “my dad walked over injured soldiers in the hospital to welcome me to the world. He’s always said that set the stage for everything else in my life.” 

 A couple continents, too many jobs, several careers, and three children later, Lily is making music her way - passionate, personal, driven - and defiantly original. 

 Lily launched her recording career with two solo albums (No Exit, produced by Bruce Hanson of Fellaheen, and Meadowlands, produced by James Mastro of Ian Hunter and the Rant Band and The Bongos). 

 Not long after, she formed her eponymously named band, whose first album - Oh Alright - was released in 2018 and produced by Ray Ketchem of Magic Door Recording (and Elk City). Lily Vakili Band includes lead guitarist Ben St. Jack, back up vocalist, Cecile Williams, harmonica player, Joel Dorow, bassist, Jim Tyndall, and drummer Gordon Kuba. 

 Currently working on a second band album with producer and studio-owner, David Amlen (of Sound on Sound Studios in Montclair, NJ) - the band released the new album's first single - a crackling, hard-rocking anthem titled “She Wants What,” in October 2019 to great reviews. 

 The second single is about to drop - hold onto your hats.


Band Members