About / EPK
Lys Guillorn - guitar, vocals
& Her Band
Julie Beman - keys, vocals
Eric Bloomquist - bass, vocals
Peter Riccio - drums, vocals
On recordings and sometimes live Lys Guillorn also plays 5-string banjo, lap steel, organ, Rhodes, mandola, mandolin, tenor banjo, toy piano, various other things with strings, bells n' whistles.
Lys Guillorn is pronounced Liss Guh-LORN
“So if oddly uplifting, folk, blues country-infused acoustic semi-electric psychedelic dark pop music is your thing, please say hello to Lys Guillorn, you'll get along just fine.” Geraint Jones, Comes With a Smile #14 (UK)
Lys Guillorn is a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist based in Shelton, Connecticut. She is of the same musical school as Laura Veirs, and Kristin Hersh, with a little Emmylou Harris thrown in: dreamy, lyric-driven, melodically interesting, and undefinable. She calls her genre of music "Avant-Twang."
Live sound is solo on electric or acoustic guitar, focusing on lyrics and intricate guitar work, or with full band, adding a little more crunch. Band members: Lys Guillorn (vocals, guitar), Peter Riccio (drums, vocals), Eric Bloomquist (bass, vocals), Julie Beman (keyboards, vocals).
Guillorn has opened for artists including: Laura Cantrell, Amy Rigby, Scout Niblett, The Handsome Family, and Nora O'Connor.
Guillorn’s eponymous debut CD was released in 2003, receiving international radio airplay and notice in indie press. The CD was produced and engineered by Jeff Feuerzeig (best known as director of the films The Devil and Daniel Johnston and Author: The JT LeRoy Story). Feuerzeig enlisted guests Stanley Demeski (Luna, Feelies), Brenda Sauter (Feelies), Dean Wareham (Luna, Galaxie 500), Robert Quine (Voidoids, Lou Reed, Tom Waits) and Glenn Mercer (Feelies, Wake Ooloo).
In the spring of 2006, Guillorn released the Three Songs EP; a trio of intricately arranged, original home-recorded tracks, packaged in a hand-letterpress printed cover.
Guillorn's 2009 oddities collection Wayward Children pulls together her releases on compilations from various small indie labels, including originals, covers of Skip Spence, old English ballads, fragments, and other miscellany.
Winged Victory was Lys Guillorn's first full-length studio record in ten years. It was recorded at Dirt Floor Studio in Chester, Connecticut with her bandmates and some special guests and released in November of 2013 on Guillorn’s own Little Cowgirl Records.
Sunny Side Down was released in January of 2016, a 2-song single recorded with drummer Peter Riccio and bass player Eric Bloomquist at Bridgeport’s Gold Coast Recorders in the fall of 2015 and released in January 2016. This effort is described by Guillorn as “Nancy Sinatra on a grunge bender."
I'm a Boy EP is Lys Guillorn & Her Band's latest. It picks up where Sunny Side Down left off--garage rock with a live feel recorded at Cheshire's Bonehead Studios. This is the first recording documenting the four-piece as a band.
In addition to being a songwriter and performing musician, Guillorn is also a writer, and visual artist.
Short Solo Bio
Lys Guillorn’s recent sound is best described as “Nancy Sinatra on a grunge bender.” The singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Shelton, Connecticut is a stylistic shape-shifter, dipping her blue cowgirl boots in folk and psych-rock. She has two full-length studio records of original material, an oddities collection, and a couple of EPs on her own label Little Cowgirl Records.
“So if oddly uplifting, folk, blues country-infused acoustic semi-electric psychedelic dark pop music is your thing, please say hello to Lys Guillorn, you'll get along just fine.” - Geraint Jones, Comes With a Smile #14 (UK)
Lys Guillorn & Her Band - I'm a Boy 5-song EP (Little Cowgirl, 2017)
Lys Guillorn & Her Band - Sunny Side Down 2-song single (Little Cowgirl, 2016)
Lys Guillorn - Turn the Page - single (Little Cowgirl, 2014)
Lys Guillorn & The Mercy Choir - Trouble EP (Dead Language Records, 2013)
Lys Guillorn - Winged Victory (Little Cowgirl, 2013)
Lys Guillorn - Wayward Children (Little Cowgirl, 2009)
Lys Guillorn - Three Songs EP (Little Cowgirl, 2006)
Lys Guillorn - Lys Guillorn s/t (Little Cowgirl, 2003)
Coming May 4 2017, three contributions to Waywords and Meansigns
“Dialtone” Ball of Wax Audio Quarterly #43 (BOW 2016)
“Turn Your Lights Down Low” (Bob Marley cover) Meet Your Match (Daniprobably 2015)
"Hard Corners" Ball of Wax Audio Quarterly #43 (BOW 2013)
"How Many, How Fast?" Not Before My Time (Golden Microphone, 2010)
"Sixteen Reasons", Happy Sweet Sixteen Carrot Top Records (Oct. 2008)
"St. Augustine", Dream magazine comp issue 8
"(I Can't Help You) I'm Falling Too" Homebreaker, Skeeter Davis tribute (Sanitary Records, Oct., 2006)
"You Love to Fail", It's Meaningless (Magnetic Fields tribute SCTAS zine, September 2005)
"Banks of the Ohio" traditional, Ball of Wax Audio Quarterly #1 (BOW 2005)
Lys Guillorn also plays on
No Line North - Dreams of Trees Pt. 1 (2017) - harmony vocals on "Butterflies"
The Grimm Generation - The Big Fame (2013) - guitar, mandola, bells, banjo, harmony vocals
Hatestick - Appleseed LP (2004) - guitar, vocals
Music in Films
Original music for the documentary And the Swans Still Swim (2014)
"Little Wren" was used in the film The Violent Kind (2010)
"Steel Pier" was used in the film Worst in Show (2012)
"Guillorn's lonesome, stark music doesn't just conjure the Velvet Underground but serves as a rallying point for other Velvets fans to contribute (the late great Robert Quine, Luna, Feelies). She's no Nico clone though-think more of the lovely third VU album." -- The Village Voice
Michael Hamad, Hartford Courant, "Four CT Artists Part Of Global Effort To Set 'Finnegans Wake' To Music, Poetry," April 27, 2017
Graham Wynd, Review of I'm a Boy, March 24, 2017
Frank Critelli, Cygnus Radio, "Stream of consciousness review: I'm a Boy EP by Lys Guillorn & Her Band," Mar. 14, 2017
Brian Slattery, New Haven Independent, "Lys Guillorn Does the Twist," Mar. 23, 2017
Cedar Attenasio, Connecticut Post, "PorchFest brings bars to Black Rock," Aug. 21, 2016
Eric Danton, Listen Dammit, Feb. 11, 2016
"The New Haven-area singer has put out the occasional single or short EP in the intervening years, and released a second LP, Winged Victory, in 2013. Each addition to her discography has felt like a welcome gift — if never quite enough. The same holds true for her latest, the double single Sunny Side Down, released as Lys Guillorn & Her Band. Playing at the head of a trio that features drummer Peter Riccio and bassist Eric Bloomquist, the songs find Guillorn in a more rocked-up mood than her more typical haunting avant-folk. It suits her. On the title track, she sings in sultry tones, letting her assured vocals ring over a rise-and-fall bassline and jangling electric guitars, underpinned by a subtle Hammond organ part.
'Spin Cycle,' the second half of the release, has political overtones as Guillorn sings, “Remind me again/ the difference between/ lying and spin,” and her tone is pitying over a stuttering rhythm that turns splashy on the chorus, and warm, gritty electric guitar. Together, the two songs are just enough to hint at a new creative direction from Guillorn. Or maybe they’re more a demonstration of the breadth of her ability. It’ll be hard to know for sure until she returns with the next batch of songs, and even harder to wait until they arrive."
Ray Hardman of WNPR on "Night of the Living Banjo," "New Haven's 'Night of the Living Banjo" Explores the Limits of the Instrument," Dec. 3, 2015
Mark Zaretsky, New Haven Register, "All banjo, all night long at Cafe Nine in New Haven Saturday," Dec. 3, 2015
Brian Slattery, Northern Remedy on WNHH / New Haven Independent, "Lys Guillorn Keeps It Moving, Close To Home," Oct. 9, 2015
Adam Matlock, New Haven Independent, "Songwriters Do What They Feel," Jun. 11, 2015
Mark Zaretsky, New Haven Register, "Lys Guillorn’s Big Little Sunday Show at Cafe Nine in New Haven," January 17, 2015
Mark Zaretsky, New Haven Register, "All I've Got is a Photograph at Cafe Nine in New Haven Saturday," Dec. 12, 2013
Ear Might: Lys Guillorn Is Determined To Do All by Dan Barry – Hartford Advocate, Hartford, CT
Her music, which she calls “avant-twang” or “clinical blues,” is spare and amazing. It’s sort of a sinister alt-country, conceived of before Americana became the new big thing. Her expertly-produced 2003 debut earned rave reviews from around the globe, and her follow-up E.P., Three Songs, experimented with home recording and hand-crafted album packaging. Her lyrics deal with depression, aching beauty and dream residues, but she approaches them from a literary perspective, with crafty turns of phrase and quirky wit."
Lys Guillorn - Lys Guillorn (CD review) – She Took His Breath Away (UK) by Kev Aldersay
There is something going on here that is not apparent when it starts off. This meek and mild tunesmith and multi-instrumentalist has a girdle of heavy metal surrounding her, female fragility enclosed in a corset of steel, perhaps. Vocals that are edgy and determined at the same time, a dark side showing through on strangely chilling numbers like 'Counterproductive' and 'In Sleep', and yet her lighter side depicted on songs like her cover of Johnny Thunders 'You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory'. Er, well, I don't a lighter side, actually. Falsely gentle, this is ten tunes that are as deep as a razor-blade cut, as strong as a first hit of Russian vodka, as glorious as a national flag in battle.
Lys Guillorn - Lys Guillorn (CD review) – Americana UK June 2003 by RB
This is a debut release from Connecticut singer-songwriter Lys Guillorn and quite frankly it’s a record that gets under your skin in the same way it will slip under the radar of most genre specific music media. To begin with her voice seems to seamlessly morph - one minute she’s Nico, the next Grace Slick and then Natalie Merchant- and these subtle shifts are also reflected in the songs. It’s a diverse array of 1960’s psychedelia and new wave yet executed with contemporary rather than nostalgic performances. The arrangements, though lo-fi on the surface, have a depth and integrity that many current artists fail to achieve despite their constant strive for a ‘back to basics’ take on song writing. The closest comparisons I can make are to early REM with the atmospheric ‘Counterproductive’ and the haunting, hammond laden ‘In Sleep’ sounding like something off ‘Murmur’ whereas the ghost of Nico/The Velvets hangs heavy over the stark ‘Impossible’ and ‘Who’s Losing You’. Guillorn also demonstrates a lighter touch with stripped down carnival/music box tunes such as ‘Steel Pier’, ‘Throne’ and the children’s lullaby ‘Little Wren’ and yet these retain a sinister air about them due to her detached vocals and sparse instrumentation. ‘Weightless’ shows her shifting gears again as her voice soars over Pink Floyd style swirly guitars before finishing the record off with a passionate cover of Johnny Thunder’s ‘You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory’. Having listened to it again (for about the 8th time) whilst writing this I’ve also scribbled down the names Beth Orton, Kate Bush, Joni Mitchell, Galaxie 500, Michelle Shocked and Johnny Dowd- which reflects the sheer depth and diversity of Guillorn’s craft. It’s also interesting that this record has been sat in the can for 3 years and yet sounds very fresh- in fact, timeless.
Lys Guillorn - Lys Guillorn (CD review) – Comes With A Smile #14 Spring 2004 (London) by Geraint Jones
Quite why Lys Guillorn's hypnotic debut languished unreleased for almost four years I'm not certain, but her quiet, understated voice is as curiously beautiful as it is oddly unsettling. Her songs - economic, measured and precise - nevertheless exude an undeniably intoxicating warmth. Short, sweet and deceptively alluring, this self-titled set has much to recommend it.
Though an adept multi-instrumentalist, and one who demonstrates some restraint in her arrangements, Guillorn has been able to call on some guest turns to augment her songs. Keeping the beat is Luna and former Feelies drummer, Stanley Demeski. Elsewhere, Luna frontman Dean Wareham adds some immediately identifiable flourishes to Little Wren, one of the album's best songs. Other Feelies Brenda Sauter and Glen Mercer also contribute as does former Voidoid Robert Quine, who adds some minimalist icy sheen to Counterproductive, which is also intriguingly punctuated by a Lightnin' Hopkins vocal sample.
On Impossible, another stand-out cut, Guillorn utilises Glen Mercer on lead - the ensuing wash of twang-inflected psychedelia and la la la harmonies, two-and-a-half-minutes of aural heaven in anyone's language. Weightless, in contrast, is hauntingly unnerving, like some lost outtake from Big Star's "Sister Lovers". And there's an excellent version of the great Johnny Thunders song, You Can't Put Your Arms Round a Memory, featuring just Guillorn on acoustic guitar.
So if oddly uplifting, folk, blues, country-infused, actoustic semi-electric psychedelic dark pop music is your thing, please say hello to Lys Guillorn, you'll get along just fine.
Lys is More – Fairfield Weekly October 16, 2008
"It's probably safe to make such a bold claim as the following: Lys Guillorn is one of the best songwriters in Connecticut right now. She writes haunting and compelling melodies and poetic but entirely accessible lyrics, and her songs are prone to unexpected turns (both lyrically and structurally). She frames them by playing in a sort of Gothic art-country/folk-rock mode, airy and often spooky but also raw, heartfelt and dynamic."
Lys Guillorn Three Songs (EP Review) – Palebear.com August 9, 2006
"Three Songs are three of the prettiest home-recorded folky tunes to hit our ears in awhile. Shades of Edith Frost, Tarnation, and many other indie country artists bloom forth on her songs. [...] The music has a country garden feel but with a good dose of darkness to it so it’s not “skippin’ in the garden” country."
(excerpt from) Amy Rigby Mixes Vulnerability And Experience – Hartford Courant, October 12, 2003 by Eric R. Danton (review of show at the Space in Hamden, CT)
Danbury native Lys Guillorn performed before Rigby with a borrowed band, the Sawtelles. They played a set of brilliant and unusual songs that borrowed elements from pop, folk and alt-country to create a startling original sound.
Tunes such as "Impossible" and "Little Wren" subtly subvert traditional song forms, and the effect is like looking at an image through cracked glass. With her low, dark voice and sometimes unsettling lyrics, Guillorn is among the most creative and talented musicians on the Connecticut scene.
Former band members
Thakns: Peter Gaulin (bass 1998-2000), Matt Moadel (drums 1998-2000, 2006), Pete Brunelli (bass 2003-2004), Chris Lough (keyboards/accordion 2003-2004), Mike Conklin (bass 2005), Julie Riccio (backing vocals 2003-2004), Ryan Blessey (guitar, lap steel, 2004-2009), Mike Guillorn (bass 2006-2009). Dates might be approximate.