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Building an Indie-Rock Career, Beach Bunny

By: Yifei Mei

Last August, Lili Trifilio said, “I’m honestly so nervous.” It was the day before her indie-rock band Beach Bunny, was going to headline a sold-out show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn.

Beach Bunny’s recent success seemed unreal to Trifilio because most of it happened during quarantine.

“Over the pandemic, Beach Bunny has grown like 200 percent,” Trifilio said, “and I don’t know what to expect.”

Onstage, Trifilio’s known for her bubbly, earnest positivity. During a recent Beach bunny show, she gave an enthusiastic recommendation for a local vegan restaurant, urged audience to get Covid-19 booster shots, and led the whole crowd singing “Happy Birthday” to a fan. In albums, she’s known for the emotional lucidity of her songwriting.

Several fans already asked Trifilio to record an acoustic version of “Cloud 9,” so they can use it as a wedding song.

Most of the recent growth in Beach Bunny’s popularity came from “Cloud 9”, a guitar driven love song. It brought the band opportunities. But Trifilio feared not being taken seriously.

“I was such a crab about it,” she said, twisting her straw. “Like I’m going to fall into this genre of internet bands. I was like, ‘No, I want to play big stages and play with bands I like, and not be thought of as cringey. I had all these weird ego dilemmas.”

Trifilio was raised in Chicago and started taking guitar lessons in fifth grade with a friend. “We did not have the attention spans for it,” she said in a recent video interview from her childhood bedroom.

For the next few years, she studied journalism at DePaul University, and wrote sharp, hooky power-pop songs and uploaded them to an online fan base. In 2017, she started playing shows with a local group of guys.

In Brooklyn café, Trifilio noted, “When I was 16, there would be some band I’d see and I’d think, ‘It would be so cool to be in a band.’ It’s amazing to think that someone might come to a show and maybe that inspires them to learn a Beach Bunny song on guitar. And then they learn other songs on guitar. That’s wild.”


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