EXCLUSIVE: Lily Williams Talks Debut Project ‘How The Story Ends’

Like every great storyteller, Lily Williams is an observer of life, gathering every authentic moment from crying in public to being unsure of the unknown. 

Lily’s own story has brought her from London to Boston’s Berklee College of Music through falling in love and moving cross country. Her latest destination is the release of her debut project How The Story Ends via Atlantic/Overall. 

On the 10 track project, Lily’s lullaby-like vocals provide a glimpse into the tale of a couple that falls deeply in and out of love. 

We chatted with Lily about the project and where her story is taking her next. 

Congrats on the release of your debut project How The Story Ends. What was the production process like?

Thank you so much! I can’t quite believe it’s all out in the world now. This project was originally supposed to be a four or five song EP that I started working on in 2020. However, due to many setbacks and many wonderful opportunities it is what it is today! The shape of the project changed over and over, for example, “July” wasn’t originally going to come out on the project, but the reaction online caused me to reconsider. I’m so grateful to those who listen to my music for helping me to shape this project into what it is today. I’m so proud of how cohesively it all came together.

Do you have a favorite memory from the process?

I think one of my favorite memories is writing “How The Story Ends” with Davin Kingston. I’d say this happened about halfway through the process of writing the project and when we wrote it felt like the whole project made sense! I love that the title track follows the story arc of all 10 songs.

The final song on the project, “A Little Good Left” is the first one you wrote. How did it inspire the rest of the project?

I think I always saw “A Little Good Left as a kind of outro. It’s like the last sentence of a novel, or the final scene of a movie. It provides a hope at the end of a story filled with both love and tremendous heartbreak. 

 What inspired the title track?

As I mentioned, I wrote this one with my incredibly talented friend Davin! He had the beautiful piano part that you hear in the intro. When I came into the session he played that for me and I immediately was inspired. I absolutely loved it and started singing and out came “can we pretend that we don’t know yet, how the story ends”. The rest flowed really naturally from that point!

You have a background in classical piano and clarinet. How has that training influenced your music today?

I think my love for orchestral music from playing in many orchestras growing up definitely affects the arrangements and production for the songs, I even played clarinet in “Rich”! In terms of writing, I think that the way I play the piano and the chords I choose are definitely influenced by the years I spent studying classical music!

 Where did the concept for the video come from and what was it like to film it?

One thing we tried to create within the project, most prominently shown in the music video for How The Story Ends, was a sense of ambiguity and alternate endings. I really wanted the orange line in Boston to be a through line for the video since it is mentioned in “When All The Love Is Gone.” I hope that those who watch take away the idea that they get to decide how the story ends.

You got to film the music video back in Boston, where you met your husband and music video co-star, Jariel. What was it like to film the video?

I hadn’t been back to Boston since we left Berklee and going back made me feel so nostalgic. Boston will forever have a special place in my heart. We also got to shoot it with our incredibly talented friends which made the whole process so much fun. We went to my favorite cafe, Tatte, about 10 times over the course of 3 days.

 If you could set fans up in the perfect environment to listen to How The Story Ends, what do you imagine it looking like?

I think my music is perfect for an early morning with a cup of tea or coffee!

How do you want people to feel after listening to the project?

I think I want people to feel seen, and a little less alone. I want them to know that there is always hope, even in the hardest of seasons or worst of heartbreaks.

For the holidays, you celebrated your 1.4 million listeners by sending personalized Christmas/Thank You cards. First, what was it like to see that kind of reception to your music? And second, what was it like to write out all those cards?

It has been so wonderful and humbling to see the reaction to my music, in particular the individual messages and comments I have received from people sharing their stories with me. Writing out the Christmas cards was a small way to show my gratitude for each listener specifically. I was really excited at the idea of writing them out but OH MY GOODNESS. I did not realize how long it takes to write hundreds of handwritten cards. I literally couldn’t feel my hand for a few days afterwards!

What can those fans look forward to next?

I’m hoping to start performing more live shows in the near future, and I’m beginning to think about what’s next in terms of new music. There are definitely lots of songs in the ropbox, so just trying to decipher what story I want to tell next!

What is one quote that you have heard or that you go by that you want to ECHO out to the world? “Let all that you do be done in love.”