100 Percent: Eva Klampfer aka LYLIT

photo of LYLIT (c) Helena Wimmer
LYLIT (c) Helena Wimmer

In this  seriesmica – music austria and Austrian Music Export have collected the experiences and perspectives of women in the music business. No matter the categories, quotas or breakdowns, the goal is 100% of us working together in the struggle for feminism. LYLIT (Eva Klampfer) combines a powerful and expressive voice with a talent for individual songwriting. After a stint navigating the New York City music business she has returned to Europe, where she holds down a busy schedule of recording and performing.

What people / institutions / funding programs helped you along the way in the music business?

LYLIT: I studied voice and piano at the Bruckner University [in Linz] when I was very young; my fellow students were my most important early musical companions. We were a real musicians’ collective, we supported one another and played in one another’s bands. That was enriching and generally a good start in the music business for all of us.

The subvention programs in Austria have to be mentioned, of course – especially the SKE and the Musikfonds (Austrian Music Fund). I received a one-year stipend from the SKE a few years ago; it was an honor and a huge financial bolster. The support from these and other institutions for albums/EPs/music videos is helpful and necessary for the artists in this country.

Video: LYLIT – What If

“Since I was internationally active as a musician at a very young age, I had no problem holding my own on stage – but navigating the American music business was rough.”

How and where did you get your experience in the music business? What were your biggest challenges, and how did you overcome them?

LYLIT: My first real experiences in the Austrian music industry were when I won the Yamaha Band Contest with my first band when I was 17. That was exciting – suddenly we were playing at festivals, we bought new equipment and recorded an album with the prize money, etc. We did everything ourselves, together as a band. I have good memories of that, and a lot of funny ones. Later, the former CEO of Motown Records [Kedar Massenburg] put me under contract in NYC. That was a whole other league, of course; it was an exciting time, but also extremely challenging. I didn’t know anyone who had ever worked with such a successful executive producer, so I had to organize everything and find out everything on my own. A dear friend introduced me to Outkast’s American lawyer, and he helped me negotiate the details and clauses of my contract in NYC. But without my parents’ financial assistance, I never would have been able to pay the lawyer’s fees and the contract would never have happened.

Video: LYLIT – Call me Bad (live and official video)

Since I was internationally active as a musician at a very young age, I had no problem holding my own on stage – but navigating the American music business was rough. Dealing with this successful producer, the studio recordings in NYC, a music market that works completely differently, suddenly getting pushed as an artist from iTunes USA…that was all new to me. An incredible gift, and at the same time a huge challenge. I’m still thankful for the support I got during that time from my friends, my family, and my longtime musical partner, Andreas Lettner.

Did you have role models around you to look up to? What role models do women in the music business have right now? What can you pass on to others?

LYLIT: Unfortunately, I didn’t have any relevant role models around me at the beginning, so I paid more attention to international musicians who inspired me. However, my voice teacher at the university, Elfi Aichinger, had a big influence on me. Her creative freedom and her power really moved me and broadened my horizons.

“I feel like the older I get, the closer I come to my true creative self.”

What role does age play for you?

LYLIT: I feel like the older I get, the closer I come to my true creative self. It’s true that I sometimes wish for the energy and ease I used to have, but every age has advantages and disadvantages – in any case, you can’t change it, and I’m happy for every woman who makes music regardless of her age. We need lots more female musicians over 50, 60, and 70.

What would you like to see in terms of a more diverse music scene?

LYLIT: I wish the content of people’s art was more important than their external appearance.

Translated from the German original by Philip Yaeger.