Get lost in a new era of hollywood with whistler extroadinaire Molly Lewis

We caught up with Molly Lewis on her recent trip back home, to talk new single ‘Crushed Velvet,’  bi coastal living, and moody soundtracks

Whistling sensation Molly Lewis is gearing up to release her first album, “On The Lips,” and she’s just given us another taste with her latest single, ‘Crushed Velvet.’

In the past year, Lewis has made waves by lending her whistling skills to Barbie’s emotional scenes, collaborating with Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt. She’s also been a sought-after talent for fashion giants like Chanel, Gucci, and Hermes, and she hit the road supporting Weyes Blood on tour.

molly lewis lizard lounge single interview

Known for conjuring up vibes of classic Hollywood jazz clubs and Italian cinema soundtracks, Molly Lewis brings a sultry and cinematic feel to ‘Crushed Velvet,’ a highlight from her upcoming debut LP.

Describing the track, Lewis aptly likens it to a high-stakes dice game, where the song becomes the perfect distraction at a crucial moment. And she’s not wrong – it sits somewhere between a Bond film and a Tarantino film, weaving together elements of suspense, allure, and a touch of cinematic cool.

The single follows the release of ‘Lounge Lizard,’ complete with a video straight out of a 1950s film. Check it out below, its an absolute gem.

Having just wrapped up packed-out shows in Sydney, Molly Lewis is  now set to hit London and Paris in April 2024.

As we caught up with her during her recent trip to Australia, Lewis shared more about her musical journey, leaving us eager for the full experience when “On The Lips” drops on Friday, 16th February via Jagjaguwar.

Happy: What are you up to today?

Molly: I’m in the small town of Mullumbimby in Australia staying with my family for the next few weeks.

It’s muggy and overcast and the insects and birds are making a wonderful racket.

I’m dying for a coffee but my mouth is completely numb because I just got home from having two fillings done at the dentist.

After a year of running around, it’s nice to be home in the countryside with nothing on.

So – today I think I’ll lie under the mango tree and try to finish the book I’m reading… One River by Wade Davis.

Happy: Tell us about where you are from? What’s the scene like in your neck of the woods?

Molly: Well, I guess I have an interesting backstory because I feel like I am from both Mullumbimby and Los Angeles.

How’s that for ‘bi-coastal’?!. Mullumbimby is a tiny tropical town with no traffic lights and Los Angeles is an endless desert megacity.

I’ve been in LA for the last ten years. I live in a dated 70s apartment block off Sunset Blvd near Chinatown that happens to have a million-dollar view of the downtown skyline.

Happy: Describe an average day?

Molly: I am very bad at routine! This year has been a lot of travel for shows and work, and I have enjoyed living without knowing exactly where the next day will take me.

I spent 2 months this summer in NYC and the spontaneity of that city is what I loved most about it.

I could leave the house in the morning for a coffee and end up many hours later on a jet-ski around the Statue of Liberty. 

Happy: Who were some of your earliest musical influences, and how did they shape your decision to pursue a career in music?

Molly: I’ve always loved film soundtracks and used to listen to a lot of them as a kid.

I discovered the music of Morricone and his contemporaries and I was very influenced by the way they used the whistle in their music as an instrument, but also their style of music in general – the use of vocalise, the strange percussive elements like vibraslap.

I didn’t study music and never really thought I could have a career this way.

But as they say: when life gives you angelic whistling capabilities, one must those lips a-utilise.

Happy: The open mic night at the Kibitz Room played a significant role in your musical journey. Can you share the moment you realised that your whistling could be a distinctive and captivating musical element?

Molly: There were a few early performances like the Kibbutz Room, or a performance art night my artist friend Nora Berman organised, where I whistled a song for a room of people and was taken aback at the response they had.

I realised that it was something that could move people.


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Happy: Your album has a unique blend of influences, including classic Hollywood jazz clubs and Italian cinema soundtracks. Can you share the specific inspirations behind the sound of this album?

Molly: Gosh, there are a lot of influences. I love the Italians and the moody soundtracks – Piccioni and Umiliani and Alessandroni.

I love the Santo & Johnny albums, the sound and lilt of the steel guitar reminds me of the sound of a whistle so I often feel inspired by their melodies.

I love sexiness of the Walter Wanderlay organ albums… My favourite and most often played jazz record is Gerry Mulligan’s Night Lights.

I feel it all gets listened to and thrown into the mixture of ideas and inspirations, but how much of that ends up coming across, I’m not sure!

Happy: The recording process for ‘On The Lips’ had an open-door policy, leading to collaborations with acclaimed musicians. Can you share a behind-the-scenes anecdote or a standout moment from the studio sessions?

Molly: Tom Brenneck’s studio is always busy and always full of interesting characters.

This is how I met the incredible Brazilian guitar maestro Rogê, who I have now collaborated on many songs.

It was also wonderful working on this album with the bassist Chester Hansen, who is one of the members of Badbadnotgood.

He brought a beautiful demo into the studio that he thought would suit my style, and he was right, I loved it.

This became the first single, Lounge Lizard. Thanks Chester!

Happy: Can you discuss your penchant for classic jazz bars, with a nod to Marty and Elayne. How have these places and personalities influenced your perception of the LA lounge scene?

Molly: There are certain things that felt like they would be part of LA forever and that the feel of the city is indebted to.

Seeing Marty and Elayne at The Dresden was an experience. My mom snuck me in when I was 16 and we watched them play and I sipped an illegal Bailey’s.

Even then, they looked like they were 1000 years old, but I mean that in the best way possible.

This duo made a huge impact on me… they were strange and original and wholly themselves and they continued this show for 37 years, five nights a week. A part of LA died when Marty did.

Happy: You’ve collaborated with a diverse range of artists, from Mark Ronson to Dr. Dre. How has working with such varied talents influenced your musical style and approach to creating music?

Molly: It’s always so wonderful to go to a new studio and see how other people work, and of course I feel incredibly lucky to have had this experience with some of the artists and producers that I have.

Everything that I have learned about the recording process and about creating music has been through going to sessions like these.

Happy: Lastly, what makes you happy?

Being in nature. Being alone in the vastness of the desert at dusk and seeing purple mountains in the distance.

Or dunking into a cold mountain river and then drying off on a hot flat rock like a lizard.

Or swimming underwater in the ocean with my goggles on and following some fish.

It makes me happy even just thinking about those things.

On The Lips out Friday 16 February via Jagjaguwar.