Queer Pop-Folk Quintet Carry Illinois Reflects On Bandmate's Suicide, Releases "Shameful Feeling" Video

"His death inspired me to keep trying and keep striving," says lead singer Lizzy Lehman.

After the release of their debut album, Alabaster, folk-pop quintet Carry Illinois had to pivot direction when its original bassist, John Winsor, committed suicide. “It was one of the hardest parts of my life so far,” lesbian front woman Lizzy Lehman, 31, tells NewNowNext.

But the tragic loss didn’t stop the group from forging a new path forward in its latest EP. “All of Garage Sale is a tribute to [John],” Lehman says. “In a sort of weird way, his death inspired me to keep trying and keep striving. Since then, I've just honed in more on being okay with who I am—my weirdness, my queerness.”

Lehman’s pride is solidified in the band’s newest music video, “Shameful Feeling,” which pairs artist Trevor Wiggins’ quirky animations with a catchy anthem that celebrates honesty and self-love. We chatted with Lehman about the release.

What inspired “Shameful Feeling"?

I wrote "Shameful Feeling" to be mostly about shaking off fears and doubts and rising above any sort of bullying or shaming that people have done to me in the past—and as an inspiration to those who have experienced similar things. This is really one of my first chances to express [the bullying] I went through and know that I am a much stronger and wiser person now.

It's also a coming out song. In 2017, when this can seem unnecessary to some, why do you think it is important to talk openly about this process?

The music community is pretty heteronormative. There's not a lot of folks that are LBGTQ who are really out there doing it. I just wanted to be one of those people who is bringing my love for music and the queer world together as one.

Why did you pick this song as the lead single for Garage Sale?

It's one of the only songs that truly expresses where I'm at and where I want to be. It's one of the songs that make me feel strong and empowered when I sing it.

Bryan C. Parker

Who are your biggest musical influences?

A nerdy folk reference for you: Carole King is my biggest songwriting inspiration. I grew up listening to a lot folk and '60s music. Brandi Carlile, I'm a really big fan of. I would definitely add Lizzo to the list. She is just this plus-sized, bad-ass R&B hip-hop and rap performer. She is slaying so hard right now, and it's incredible to see somebody who is not a size two just dominating.

If you could describe your music as having a superpower, what would it be?

I would say not taking bullshit.

That's something we could all use right now.

Yeah, and to not internalize any judgement that people pass on to you. Each person has a lot to offer, especially right now. It's a really great time to be a queer entertainer, or even somebody who doesn't fit the social norm.

Watch "Shameful Feeling" below and check out Garage Sale here.