Vincent Haycock

This month, Lila Drew’s music is featured on Spotify’s “late night vibes” and “night pop” playlists. Indeed, listening to her music feels like stepping into a rainy night at home, toes curled under a warm blanket of synth, muted bass and carefully chosen snare. Certain songs are a solo evening, others best enjoyed with friends and a cocktail. Her voice is soft and clear: “maybe I’ll try and let it go, no / I think I could take care of you now,” she sings on her newest single, “Bad Juice.” Her songs personify both self-soothing and the intimate navigation of self and other. 

Lila Drew – or, to Yalies, Lila Hauptman ’24 – is not a trendy, girl-next-door artist sprinting to churn out bubbly, consumable hits. Instead, she is a deeply personable student-singer-songwriter, a self-identified “fire” chef and American Studies major who just happens to have spent her sophomore summer touring Europe opening for Oh Wonder (who sought her exclusively). A junior in Saybrook College who boasts over 380,000 monthly listeners on Spotify and who splits her time between Los Angeles, New Haven and London, she’s penned two full-length studio albums, the first of which will be released next month. It’s never entirely clear where Lila’s feet are rooted, but this seems to be a part of the magic of both her persona and sound. 

With a deep repertoire of EPs, singles, and a notable collaboration with GoldLink in “faded/2am,” each of Lila’s songs possesses a timeless, old-school quality. Despite the emotional intensity of some of her lyrics – a notable verse from “Locket” paints Los Angeles as a “sadist’s paradise” – her style can only be described as a purist’s take on the rapidly modernizing discipline of accessible pop. She does a lot with very little; her voice is a refreshing escape into an unencumbered, ad-free world of raw listening. 

It’s a world Lila’s worked hard to curate, having spent a gap year after graduating high school in 2019 working on her music. When the pandemic hit, she doubled her creative efforts, throwing herself into album production without access to a studio. The pandemic “gave her a lot of time to think about what [she] was making,” and she credits lockdown with making her music “a lot better.” According to Hauptman, she tried to take the advice of her favorite musicians, drawing inspiration from both their creative processes and various genres. The fruits of this time are evident in her music, despite her writing “a lot of songs that no one will ever hear.” 

Her favorite artists are constantly changing. She fell in love with both indie pioneer Elliott Smith and 90s R&B, and is “obsessed” with the creative genius of the 1975’s Matthew Healy. She pays equal homage to classic paragons of musician-songwriters: the Rolling Stones, Prince, Bruce Springsteen and Leonard Cohen. 

In some ways, Lila appears to be a 21st-century Renaissance woman: a successful touring musician but also pure Yalie who, like so many others, “has a lot of weird interests” (and who eventually would like to “write a book and live in the forest.”). She also has a terrific sense of humor; Lila describes herself as “like every other girl” who “listens to her indie during the day and her true crime podcasts at night.” It is refreshing to encounter an artist who herself emanates the same classicism as her music. Nothing about Lila, nor her music, seems forced, though the amount of care and effort she puts into her work is palpable. 

In New Haven, Lila co-hosts WYBC’s Two Pretty Best Friends, a radio show that airs every Tuesday, with Samuel Brody ’24. The show is a means, she says, to still “feel involved at school” despite the litany of events and goals related to her budding musical career. She acknowledges her path is untraditional, saying she “could have done what other people who like to sing do, joined an a cappella group or something.” But what she has managed to do instead is remarkable. Lila puts a finger on the indiscernible, late-night feeling that can only be described as a wish for a mug of nostalgia. 

When asked what she might say to a younger Lila, though, her response is simple: “respond to my texts.” Then: “that was a really good one-liner, I can’t even lie.”

Anabel Moore edits for the WKND desk. She previously wrote for the WKND, Magazine and Arts desks as a staff writer. Originally from the greater Seattle, WA area, she is a junior in Branford College double-majoring in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and the History of Art with a certificate in Global Health.