Astoria artist’s newest album offers quick pick me ups for dark winter days

By Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech

Astoria artist and French transplant LiLi Roquelin will release her fourth album “Be Inspired” on Dec. 6, which will be celebrated with a red-carpet event and live performance at the Village’s The Bitter End.

“I hope that I can inspire more women to do this,” Roquelin said, who hopes to uplift listeners in any way, shape or form.

On the same day that the singer will release her newest album, she will also debut a documentary film offering fans a behind the scenes look into the work she put in to producing the record.

“The whole process of the album is very complicated,” Roquelin said.

She directed a total of 12 people while creating the album — no easy feat for a female artist with an accent in a male-dominated industry. According to the artist’s website, only 7 percent of all music producers are women.

Despite Roquelin’s soft, tremoring singing voice, the artist has grit.

Roquelin left her hometown of Toulon, to pursue an English language music career 14 years ago. According to the artist, there were few opportunities for young musicians in the seaside city. But she had known from an early age that she would end up in New York or London.

Roquelin began singing at age 4 and writing poetry in English at age 14. Before landing in the neighborhood she proudly calls home, Roquelin made a stop in Cleveland, Ohio, a state where extended family on her mother’s side lived.

The young artist proved herself in the music scene there during the recording of the alt-rock album “Neverending Sundown” with the band Hate Dies Hard, who then recommended her to producer Sean Bilovecky. Roquelin and Bilovecky co-wrote the song “I Saw You.”

After three years in the Midwest, Roquelin eventually found herself in Astoria.

“While in New York I do not see myself capable of living in any other neighborhood than Astoria,” said Roquelin, who lived briefly in Inwood. Like many new Astorians, what attracted artist to the neighborhood was its reputation as a melting pot.

“I am from the south of France along the Mediterranean, so I feel more Mediterranean than French,” Roquelin said.

Astoria’s Greek influence, immigrant communities and penchant for new artists helped the artist feel comfortable enough to perform roughly written songs in bars and cafes.

Like the ever-changing neighborhood that Roquelin now calls home, the last year has been a time of growth for Roquelin. Her new album has a more upbeat tone and features four songs in French, which is unusual for the anglophile. Ironically, a dark period of mourning after a friend and fellow band mate Sean Barringer passed away in the summer of 2015 was the catalyst for the more upbeat outlook on life.

Roquelin had to travel back to her American roots — Cleveland — to attend Barringer’s memorial.

“I wanted to have a music companion. The ukulele is so small that I could strum it in the car and this is when I started learning chords on the instrument,” Roquelin said. “The uke has this little vibe to it. You can only play happy songs and it cheered me up. It helped me go through it.”

For more information about Roquelin’s new album and red-carpet event, visit www.liliroquelin.com.

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