Lily Williams Explains the Full-Circle Love Story Within Debut Project How the Story Ends
Singer-songwriter Lily Williams has had a number of viral hits thanks to her poignant lyricism and almost ethereal voice, but her talents have never been so evident as they are on her new project, How the Story Ends.
The English-born, SoCal-based artist's new release tells one epic, singular story that unfolds over the course of 10 incredible songs—including TikTok favorites "What If I Still Miss You?" and "Kinda Like the Heartbreak." Written over two years, the dreamy, fairytale-like tracks depict a tale of love, from the initial stage of falling for each other, through the relationship and out the other end in the form of a breakup. It truly is a journey from start to finish—and one Lily never could have anticipated at the beginning of it all.
How the Story Ends doesn't follow Lily's real-life story, but still captures the sometimes euphoric, sometimes painful truths of love, loss and everything in between, and reminds us that no matter how broken we may feel, we can always rely on hope. Ahead of its release, we had the pleasure of speaking with Lily about the project to discover its story and what it means to her.
Sweety High: What does the project name How The Story Ends mean to you? Why did that title track feel like the perfect summation of this group of songs?
Lily Williams: The thing that I love about the title track is that it tells the story of the whole 10-song project within its three verses. The first verse talks about having a crush and falling in love with your best friend, which is outlined in "I Hope You Think of Me." The second verse then talks about being madly in love and not wanting it to end, which is told through the songs "Rich," "July" and "Let Me Be The One." The final verse talks about that love falling apart, which is told through "When All The Love Is Gone," "What If I Still Miss You?," "Kinda Like The Heartbreak" and "Hindsight's a Wonderful Thing." In this way, the story arc of the project follows the story arc of the title track!
(Photo credit: Graci Burdick)
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SH: What do you feel are the overarching themes of the project? What kind of feel do you hope fans take away from it?
LW: There is also an invisible string of desire that runs through the project; a desire to live in the moment and to stop worrying about how the story ends. Sometimes this desire is fulfilled in lines such as, "We can let July just be July," and sometimes the fear of the future takes over—for example, "Let me be the one, or at least, let me be the one that leaves," or, "What if I still miss you in a year?" Though the project ends in heartbreak, I love the way the last two songs reflect a glimmer of hope. I hope that listeners take away a feeling of hope from the project and a desire to live in the moment!
SH: How would you describe the project's sound? Production-wise, how did you go about bringing these tracks to life?
LW: I'm a very nostalgic person. I get nostalgic about things before they even end. I think the project has a nostalgic, almost old-Hollywood sound to it. I'm inspired by old Disney scores, classic songwriting and orchestral elements, so I think these influences can be heard. I am so grateful to have been able to work with some insanely talented producers and musicians on the project; Michael Blum, Davin Kingston, Annie Elise, Philip Etherington, Ehren Ebbage, Max Margolis and Sleeping Lion. They helped to create the sound and world of production that the album lives in—I could have never done it without them.
(Photo credit: Bryce Glenn)
SH: How do you feel that these songs represent where you all are in life right now?
LW: I think being in your 20s, the future can feel so unsettling and uncertain. I think that a desire to live in the moment and stop worrying about tomorrow seeped into all of these songs subconsciously because of the life stage I am in!
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SH: What's your favorite song on the project? Why?
LW: I think at some point, every song has been my favorite! Right now, it would have to be "Rich," I think because it most accurately describes where I am in my life right now —not very wealthy, but rich in the things that money can't buy!
SH: Was there anything that surprised you about the process of recording and putting together your debut project?
LW: The whole process surprised me! 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. Indeed, "Kinda Like The Heartbreak" was only written a few months ago and was not originally going to come out on the project, but the reaction online caused me to reconsider. The same thing happened with "July." I'm so grateful to those who listen to my music for helping me to shape this project into what it is today. It has been such a wonderful and stressful process! Despite the somewhat chaotic way in which it came together, I believe the project to be so cohesive, telling one story and highlighting very specific themes. I'm so proud of how it came together.
(Photo credit: Bryce Glenn)
SH: How are you feeling about releasing this debut project to the world?
LW: I am so excited! This has been two years in the making, and I've never been more proud of a piece of work.
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SH: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
LW: 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 hope that listeners take away the idea that they get to decide how the story ends.
For more on the new music we're loving, click HERE to read our interview with Victoria Anthony on her latest single, "Can't Hold Back."