Beach Bunny: Young Entrepreneur
Written by Megan Stringer
It’s a Tuesday night in May and Lili Trifilio, otherwise known as Beach Bunny, sits down to write some new music. A solo acoustic act, Trifilio and her brightly colored music bring new meaning to the stereotype of “singer/songwriter.” Beach Bunny plays the scene. Whether it be a DIY space, a mid-sized venue like Beat Kitchen, or even a webzine’s launch party (hint hint), Trifilio dazzles her listeners with the tones of her soft yet full voice over gentle and rhythmic strumming.
Emotions fill up Beach Bunny’s EP Animalism in much the same way she fills a room with her presence. When Trifilio plays, she has the attention of everyone in the audience. She is allowed to play her music on its own, without the quiet hum of cabaret cocktail chatter in the background of every set. It takes years of booking shows for some singer/songwriters to reach that point.
Trifilio has just finished up her first year of college at DePaul University in Chicago. Still undecided on a major, she somehow juggles classes with concerts. Not to mention she books all of her own shows, creates all of her own album artwork, and writes and records all new music completely by herself.
“The most rewarding thing is when I get positive and supportive feedback. It makes me feel like I’m on the right road, and that people actually enjoy what I make,” Trifilio says.
For musicians in Chicago’s DIY scene, this isn’t really new. However, as more and more young people decide to start their musical careers early on, they learn how to publicize and promote themselves all on their own, without the help of a music manager. Trifilio is not only new to finding her way through the Windy City as a college student, but also as a musical entrepreneur.
“The benefit of working for myself, at least with recording, is that I’m able to get the sound exactly how I want it,” Trifilio says. “The downside would be that for a lot of venues, you have to pull a certain crowd or a certain number of people, and that can be really stressful. For people who are signed it’s no problem, but I kind of have to know people who can come to my concert. When you get to a certain point, where all your friends and all your family know what’s happening, you get stuck. It’s like, how am I gonna reach out to more people?”
If you’ve ever seen a “Lili Trifilio” posting to different Chicago DIY Facebook groups about Beach Bunny, then you’ve encountered a bit of her publicity. Trifilio takes advantage of social media to remind her friends and family, and all her new Facebook friends who don’t yet know, that she makes music. Without a constant flood of links to Bandcamp and Soundcloud, people are unlikely to search out new local music on a regular basis.
Practice space has proven one of the most difficult things for Trifilio, as both a musician and a freshman student. Now that she no longer lives in an on-campus residence hall, it should prove a little easier. However for the past nine months, Beach Bunny music could be heard flooding from her bedroom door and kitchen area lounge in Clifton-Fullerton, Trifilio’s residence hall this past year. There aren’t a lot of spaces on campus where can freely jam to her new tunes— not even the practice rooms in DePaul’s School of Music.
Not being alone in her entrepreneurial situation helps. The people Trifilio encounters in Chicago’s DIY scene help motivate her and make her feel more comfortable all the same time. For Trifilio, it doesn’t always seem competitive, even as a young woman new to the scene.
“It’s nice having all these venues and such a large outreach of people, it’s like unlimited opportunities,” Trifilio says. “Even though my classes take up a large portion of my time, I can still make it work. I can set my own schedule more so, it’s not like a straight eight hour day.”
For now, Beach Bunny will remain an independent label. Eventually, Trifilio hopes to one day make a career out of her musical passion. She’s open to collaboration as well.
“I picked a name that sounded like a band name hoping that it would evolve into something like a band,” Trifilio says. “It’s just a matter of finding people that both have a similar taste and are easy to work with. I’m a solo project for now because it’s kind of my only option at this point. But I would love to have a drummer and a bassist at some point, that’d be really cool.”
Whether it be on her own, with a band, or with a manager, Beach Bunny will continue to make waves in Chicago’s independent music community.
Contact Megan by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All photos courtesy of Megan Stringer