Sometimes, inspiration strikes at unlikely moments. This is especially true in the case of junior Lilah Gentry, whose musical pseudonym, Ghostcry, was created from a simple doodle she drew over the summer while bored at work. The drawing went on to influence her soft, bedroom-pop artistic persona.
“I feel like I’m a generally pessimistic person,” Gentry said. “So I felt like it fit the stuff that I was writing pretty well. It’s not super happy-go-lucky positive pop.”
She finished recording songs for an EP over the summer with her music teacher, Jesse Trepiak, and said she is planning to release it at some point during this school year.
According to Gentry, her dad, who is also a musician, wanted her to learn piano when she was six. However, she wasn’t as into the instrument as her dad wanted her to be, so he devised an incentive for her to practice.
“He had to bribe me to practice playing piano by making tally marks,” said Gentry. “Once I got to 500, he would buy me a guitar. So I got to 500, and he bought me this tiny, acoustic guitar that had a Taylor Swift signature. I thought it was the coolest thing.”
She went on to take music lessons at the local YMCA, where she met Trepiak. There, she learned how to play bass and sing, and she even joined a band.
Trepiak was also the one who convinced Gentry to begin writing her own music. She had writing experience from summer recording programs with her band, 6:58, but at the time, Gentry had never considered creating her own music, lyrics, or label. During her half-hour lessons with Trepiak, Gentry slowly began opening up to the prospect of writing her own music. “I don’t think I would have decided to write music if I wasn’t part of his program,” said Gentry.
Gentry has a pretty unique take to the writing process. Instead of writing the lyrics, she starts off with creating a melody from random chords on her guitar. It’s not until near the end that she will begin to pen the final lyrics. “More recently, I’ve been trying to write lyrics first because it’s sometimes easier to write melodies when you have lyrics,” she said. “Just so I have like syllables and stuff to put in, I’ll put in filler lyrics until I come up with actual ones that sound better.”
According to Gentry, she does not start out by trying to write “something insanely special.” Her attitude towards her songs is more easy-going. Her music and vocal style also reflect her chill, carefree vibe. “Eventually it evolves and I give it meaning and stuff. But in the beginning, it just starts as ‘I’m going to write something now,’” said Gentry.
Some of the artists and bands Gentry draws her inspiration from include Alvvays, Cage the Elephant, and Phoenix. According to Gentry, it was because of Phoenix that she decided to use synthesizers on her record.
Similar to the sounds that have influenced her, one of her unreleased songs, “What You Have to Say,” consists of mellow vocals layered over a piano melody. The synthesizer in the background gives her music an ambient, calm vibe.
Sometimes, balancing schoolwork and music can be difficult, Gentry said, but “at the end of the day, it’s music. I like doing music. So, spending time practicing music and stuff is valuable to me.”