Lys Guillorn on chronic illness, self-care, and putting out music anyway (GRRL034)

Welcome to Grrl on Grrl episode 34 with Lys Guillorn, a “solo artist with a band”.

Lys and I recorded this all the way back in *last* July in 2017. Since then, she has released the split single “How to Move a Mountain” and more recently the song “Tinctoria”. (i’m sorry DID I JUST READ “LICHEN DYE” in the description for the physical release???? be still my heart.))

The majority of our conversation runs the gamut of mental health and chronic illness issues, including depression, fibromyalgia, the mad genius trope, symptoms & self-care routines, and how they affect and inform her songwriting. Near the end, we chat about being a solo songwriter with a band and how collaboration and community work together to build a better Connecticut and music scene.

This episode is the first to be edited by the amazing Sarah Parish who answered my call for help a few months ago. Thank you so much Sarah! She has been amazing help in getting my ass into gear releasing these episodes. Without her hard work and assistance, I’m not sure I would have finished these upcoming episodes! If you want to learn more about her current projects, scroll down to the bottom of the shownotes.

Thanks to The Fresh Brunettes for providing their song “Best of the Worst” as the new Grrl on Grrl theme song! You can find their album Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition on CDBaby. And of course, thank you to Lys Guillorn for her patience and to all of you folks for still checking in.


Download GRRL034 at Libsyn [~51MB; 55 minutes] or stream from these websites [iTunes | Stitcher | TuneIn | Google Play]

Show Notes

  • Putting out her first album… writing it in 1998, finally putting it out 2003
  • Different music industry then and now (no Bandcamp!)
  • Being in the publishing industry and using that as a guide to self-release album
    • Hysteria … women’s humor magazine – “Getting in touch with your inner bitch”
    • Spin Magazine
    • What did you learn from working at Hysteria?
  • [12:05] Elisa Flynn – “My Blood”
  • Content warning: pain/fibromyalgia, depression
  • Her May 2017 album “I’m a Boy”
    • Becoming really ill in 2016
    • Background on her song “M.K.” written while she was bedridden
  • Depression symptoms
  • Self-care routine
    • Banjo!!!!!
    • Artist’s Way in the morning
    • Yoga
  • Do depression and fibromyalgia affect each other?
    • Taking breaks during certain months because of fibromyalgia and depression, with a few exceptions
  • [26:35] Lys Guillorn – “M.K.”
  • Is music industry better or worse now?
  • Not being able to tour
  • “I can’t separate my experience to have regrets”
    • June talks about health insurance/not taking antidepressants
  • Mental illness – being in the arts with a mental illness
    • stereotype of the “male creative genius” vs women, whose mental health problems manifest in less “socially acceptable” ways
    • what parts of depression get demonized or put on a pedestal
    • June talks about hiatuses from Grrl on Grrl, for example – how am I supposed to be consistent with depression?
    • we’re not allowed to take breaks for ourselves
  • Has stigmatization lessened? – Tumblr, spoonie community
    • capitalism is the one shaming me into thinking that I need to be productive
    • to learn how to make something for myself that represents me as my own person
    • you’re on your OWN schedule, not on anybody else’s schedule
  • [41:30] Chica Non Grata – “Burning Spark” (Website)
  • Solo songwriter but with a band & having awesome collaborators
  • Songwriting style changes?
    • 4 track as a writing tool
  • Connecticut music scene – New Haven (and Hartford too)
    • “we all want each other to succeed” / share resources
    • Cygnus Radio, WPKN, and other independent and/or local radio
    • venues: bar, DIY spaces, Neverending Books, Cafe 9
    • The power of local mags/entertainment news


Sarah Parish Bio

More about who helped with Episode 34…

After my frantic call for help to finish the last few interviews of Grrl on Grrl, San Diego freelancer and activist Sarah Parish stepped up to the plate to help with interview editing–cutting out silences, false starts, and in general just making sure the interview flowed together and made sense. The amount of work ahead of me was daunting me enough that I couldn’t get myself started, so thank you Sarah!

As a freelancer, Sarah has done graphic design work creating teachers’ manuals for the organization Kitabna, whose main mission is to create illustrated multi-lingual children’s books for children displaced by war and and violence. “[Kitabna’s] books aim to create pride, learning, fun and dignity in the stigmatized refugee experience“, and the organizations’ 7 books have been translated to Arabic, Kurdish Sorani, Turkish, French, and more.

Sarah also volunteers at Lambda Archives, who collect and document LGBT history and culture in the San Diego County, Tijuana/Baja California region, including recorded audio/video oral accounts (some which are available to stream online), over 40,000 historical photographs (currently in the process of being digitized), and other projects.