20-year-old University of Iowa student Lily DeTaeye writes songs between classes and puts together albums while also performing live shows. She performed at the Iowa City Yacht Club on Friday.
By Sabrina Shearer
In the dim underground of the Yacht Club, 20-year-old University of Iowa student Lily DeTaeye confidently took the stage with her electric guitar and harmonica, ready to captivate the audience with her multi-instrumental ability and unique modern take on folk and rock.
On the night of June 8, DeTaeye played music from her album Nothing to Say and self-titled EP backed by her label, Station 1 Records.
The performance seemed authentic; the crowd consisted of family, friends, and locals who danced in front of the stage to DeTaeye’s edgy folk. The Yacht Club was her seventh stop on the tour “Growing Pains,” playing at local clubs across the Midwest. DeTaeye began writing and performing original music at the age of 13 at local farmers’ markets and festivals.
By fate, DeTaeye met Des Moines’s Station 1 Executive Director Tobi Parks and Director of Operations Thomas Kutz while performing at the 80/35 Festival this year. Station 1 is a nonprofit organization for artists to build a platform to grow on a national level.
Parks and Kutz act as managers to assist DeTaeye on tour and help to get her familiarized with the industry and to build relationships along the way.
“Station 1 Records is the beginning, not the end result for Lily,” Parks said.
DeTaeye is a Des Moines artist majoring in creative writing, minoring in theater, and getting a certificate in arts entrepreneurship at the UI. She said the classes she has taken at the UI have helped her understand the business aspect of the industry.
In between classes, she finds time to write music in places across campus.
“My inspiration comes from anywhere I can bring my guitar and get a vivid image of something that can be turned into a song,” DeTaeye said.
She said she wrote songs now on her EP at such campus spots as the Voxman Music Building and a piano located in Stanley Hall. She plays keyboard, electric and acoustic guitars, harmonica, and ukulele. Her inclusion of harmonica in her performance always excites the crowd.
“I feel really powerful when I can play it because it’s seen as a man’s instrument, and I hope that changes and encourages female songwriters to pick one up,” she said.
DeTaeye gets much of her support from friends and family. She said her father, Tom, has long encouraged her career and provided constructive criticism.
“He’s very honest when I’m songwriting or after a show,” she said. “He will tell me the ugly truth and what the real quality was, and it shows he really cares.”
She also has support from such friends as Pearl Tate, who appeared on stage at the Yacht Club performance to add backup vocals. Tate plans to appear in DeTaeye’s second album.
Her next couple stops on tour include Perry, Iowa, Kansas City, Missouri, and Des Moines, and her music is on such streaming services as Apple Music and Spotify.