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  • Sasha Anand

American Idol and AP tests: Lillian Hacketts rise to fame

At just seventeen years old, Lillian Hackett is an emerging singer-songwriter from Lovettsville, VA. We interviewed her to learn more about her rise to fame on American Idol, her musical process and junior year.


On her songwriting process:

Sasha Anand: Okay, so you just released a song called Tennessee. I listened to it and it was really good! I'm not that big of a country music fan but even I liked it. I was just wondering for you, what did the process of writing and producing the song Tennessee look like?

Lillian Hackett: So I wrote it, I want to say a couple years ago, and it's one of those songs that kind of took me a while to write. I came up with the first verse and the chorus really fast, but it always happens where I can't figure out the last verse, so I'm stuck on it for a few months, but after I finished that, I kind of just had that song in my back pocket for a while, and then I went on American Idol and that was my Audition song so I was thought I need to get this up on Spotify Apple music so if my audition is aired, you know people can go and look my name up on Spotify and hopefully it will get me more streams so that's kind of why I wanted to record it. I also just wanted to have some place where people could look at my music when they asked me to. But my buddy, he's in Low Water Bridge Band. He's a drummer. He's also a producer. So I went through him and it only took, I wanna say a day where we laid out all the tracks. And then, you know, he just mixed it and mastered it. But it was a really easy, quick process.

S: That's super cool. Honestly, like I've always thought about like what producing music would look like, right? And it just, it seems so foreign, but the fact that you could have, you just do it like that is awesome. I could never do any of that recording stuff.

L: There's so many, oh my gosh, it's so complicated.

S: No, I bet. I guess, building off of that what does your overall songwriting process look like? Do you formulate an idea and then just go with the flow or do you have it all laid out?

L: I kind of just come up with an idea. I come up with a lot of ideas every single day as I'm doing something, I'm like, oh, that would be a cool song. But when I finally come up with a good song idea that could produce a lot of ideas for the verses and the chorus, that's when I start, you know, I'm a really slow songwriter. It's really bad. It takes me like a month or two months. But most of my songs are just like about my personal experiences but they're also about you know other people's point of views and I draw a lot of inspiration from you know other people nature just things happening around me but there's no there's no real set process I kind of just write what I'm feeling.

S: That's so it's like it's kind of like poetry.

L: It is it really is like poetry. I love poetry.

S: I don't know, I just find it so interesting, you know, like you have the courage to put your songs out there, right? And it's like, you do you ever get worried that you know, someone might not like it or stuff like that?

L: It's definitely hard. Because when you write songs, it's so it like kind of tells who you are. And you know, there's always this people that are gonna judge that and it's hard because you are basically sharing who you are and those people are judging it. To be honest, I dont really care that much, hopefully someone likes it but there are there always is gonna be people that don't like it!

S: Yeah at that point, it's just how do you move on right?

L: Yeah exactly

S: How long have you been singing how long have you been I guess doing music?

L: I've been singing since I was born but yeah but I didn't pick up a guitar until I was 10. My dad has always played guitar growing up. So I was like, hey dad, can I borrow your guitar? Can you teach me a few chords? And then it just, you know, went from there.


On American Idol and her takeaways:

S: Now obviously the question of the hour! How has it been going from posting covers on Instagram to taking a stage at American Idol?

L: Oh my gosh I signed up for American Idol on a whim not expecting anything out of it But it was just a crazy surreal experience that opened me up, to you know so much more and that stage on American Idol is probably the biggest thing I've been on and it's just crazy to think about. It's crazy to think that I was on American Idol one day and then I flew home and then I was in my pre-calc math class and that.

S: That's crazy. I mean like, I just, I can't even imagine that like, just going like from something like that when you're on TV, you're going back to class. Was it hard dealing with that? Or did people not know until it came out?

L: People, yeah, no one knew until it came out. I mean, people knew I auditioned, but no one knew I was in Hollywood, because I went in Hollywood back in December. And it was, it was definitely very hard to keep secret. And the first couple weeks that I came back from Hollywood, I was like, in this weird little bubble I was like oh it feels so weird coming back from American Idol and no one knows.

S: Yeah, you can't tell anybody right? Yeah. I mean I bet, you know you see people on TV and then they're just like standing right in front of you. So like you said you signed up for American Idol on a whim right but have you always wanted to post music on Spotify where you always focus on just becoming a bigger artist?

L: Yes I've always wanted to be an artist that was another reason why I wanted to put Tennessee up is because whenever people ask me like "where can I listen to your music?" I didn't really have a place and so I wanted you know just a place where people could look me up. But yeah that's all I've been doing. I'm not really like I'm not trying to you know, I don't know how to word this, but basically my mindset right now is just like play music, do as much as you can because you're having fun with it, but if it ever gets to you know a point where I'm not having fun I think that's like where I'm gonna call it quits but yeah all those covers and all those original songs that I've been posting on Instagram you know it's fun!

S: I get it you do it because you have a passion and you have a talent.

L: I mean, like, if I get bigger, you know, that'd be cool. But that's not really like, reason why I'm doing it.

S: You said that, you know, your experience has been surreal, which is a great way to describe it. I mean, it's American Idol. But like, I was just wondering, do you have any, like key takeaways from the experience, anything that you would maybe change or some advice if someone were to do this themselves would you have any advice for them?

L: My biggest takeaway is definitely all the people that I met. I met so many amazingly talented people. Some of them are still in it. They're like at the top 14. I'm like, let's go!

But some advice, my advice for people is just to go into it. Just head first, do it. You never know what could happen. And just be yourself. I know that's so basic to say, but you really have to because if they're going to judge you, they're judging you. And you don't want to pretend to be somebody else because you want to make it because you're you. If that makes sense.

L: That way, if you just go into it, who you are, like you're not going to have any regrets in the future. Like, oh, I should have done this. Which is like probably one of my biggest takeaways to like, I don't have any regrets coming out of it because I went into the mindset that I was just going to have fun with it and I wasn't going to take anything too seriously.


On what inspires her and junior year:

S: Who are some of your biggest inspirations and influences? Like, who really inspired you to get going with this process?

L: I mean, locally, all my biggest inspirations come from, you know, all the musicians around Northern Virginia, Winchester area. It's a really big, cool music community. They've been so supportive since I was young with my music and letting me open up for them and letting me play during their set breaks when I was younger. So they've just shown me what a positive music community looks like. But, and my dad, my dad is a big inspiration for me too. But on a larger scale, I have to say, you know, songwriters like Bob Dylan, and I love the music of Sierra Farrell and Gillian Welch, but I find a lot of musical inspiration everywhere.

S: Yeah, I mean, yeah, there are a lot of, there are a lot of musicians in your area. I live in Arizona, there's like nothing going on here, I swear. But you know, different places, different vibes. Do you have any more plans on releasing any more music on streaming platforms anytime soon? Anything you're working on?

L: I don't have any set plans yet, but I'm working on a few other originals. I'm hoping to get a cover of Blood Moon on Spotify because I know people have been wanting it. I've just been really busy recently, but I'm gonna get it up there one of these days.

S: It's been a year!

L: Oh my gosh. I know.

S: So you are a junior in high school then?

L: Yeah.

S: Same. How's that been going for you?

L: Oh my gosh, it's been really, really, really busy.I still keep it up with the grades, but it's about to be AP season.

S: Wait, what APs are you taking?

L: AP Lang, but that's the only AP. I'm mainly in DE classes.

S: Yeah, I was just about to say, you're taking AP Chem or AP Bio? If so, good luck! But yeah, it's nice to know you still have the junior year problems. You know what I'm saying?

L: Nobody likes junior year. Especially with all this music stuff going on every single weekend, I'm just playing out gigs. And it's hard to be like on the grind with the homework when I'm playing gigs, but somehow I make it happen. Somehow I'm keeping up. One more quarter, let's go!

S: I know, right? Fourth quarter is crazy. But you ever feel like going into senior year, are you excited for what's to come or are you like ugh school?

L: I have a lot of really cool festivals in September but that's also you know like when I'm supposed to be applying for college so it's gonna be really busy that first half of senior year but I feel like it's okay.

S: At least you're having fun you know that's all that matters at the end of the day.


Final thoughts and advice:

S: What is your favorite thing about music? What inspires you to keep doing it?

L: My favorite thing about music... I've grown up around music since I was little, like going to concerts and festivals, barn dances on our road. We have a barn dance probably like a few miles on the road. And it's just, it's such a lively music scene and all the musicians know each other. And it's so positive. I feel like sometimes when people think of the music other. And it's so positive. I feel like sometimes when people think of the music industry it kind of has a negative connotation to it. But I've just grown up in such a positive environment and that's probably one of my favorite things. The people of music are definitely the favorite part for me

S: Do you plan on pursuing music in college?

L: I feel like if I go to college the music is definitely going to slow down. I definitely want to stay involved with the music interview whether that be performing, singing, or being in the business side of things. I still haven't figured it out, but I'm working on it.

S: Do you have any advice for juniors?

L: Stay on top of things, and don't procrastinate. Balance your social life and school and try to have fun!

S: Finally, any advice for young musicians?

L: Just keep posting those covers, and keep playing music. Every time you do something a new door opens, and you know if that's something you like to do keep doing it. If someone says it's cringy just keep posting those covers!



If you are interested in learning more about Lillian and listening to her music:

Watch Lillians American Idol Audition:

Lillians Instagram: @lillianhackettmusic


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