On March 21, Lucy’s Mirror took to the small stage at L’escalier, a local bar and vegetarian restaurant known for hosting live music events. Composed of five McGill students, the band performed two hour-long sets for friends and curious strangers. For those in the audience, the show was a musical spectacle, a warm social event, and a distraction from impending finals; for the band members themselves, it was a chance to practice their craft outside the dusty practice rooms of the Schulich School of Music.
Lucy’s Mirror was founded by Julia Larson, U1 Music, a second-year voice student at McGill. What began as a solo project took on new life after she joined forces with fellow music students Chris Ross, U1 Music, who plays bass, guitarist Stefan Anghel U1 Music, pianist Simon Brosseau, U2 Music, and drummer Rafa Aslan, U2 Music. While they began practicing together for fun, Lucy’s Mirror is now a fully-fledged act, and the band plays a variety of originals and covers.
Ross sat down with The McGill Tribune to discuss Lucy’s Mirror and the process of making music in and beyond the halls of McGill. Ross spoke about the excitement of playing their first non-academic show.
“[The performance at L’escalier] was our first show as Lucy’s Mirror,” Ross said. “It was super fun [and] we all had a great time. It came together.”
Across the two sets, the band slid smoothly between genres and moods: A dreamy cover of Radiohead’s “Nude” preceded a funky, largely-improvised jam.
“Funk, pop, R&B […], I don’t know!” Ross laughed when asked to describe the band’s sound. “We’re figuring it out.”
The band matches their wide musical influences with an easy onstage dynamism. Ross noted that the live setting augmented the group’s freshness and spontaneity.
“When you’re playing in front of people, weirdly, it makes you want to try more things,” Ross said.
Lucy’s Mirror provides the musicians with a freedom in artistic direction that contrasts with the students’ classes at McGill, which are more tightly structured and disciplined.
“A lot of what we’re learning in school is more traditional stuff,” Ross said.
Yet, it is precisely the discipline of their practice, day-after-day, that enables Lucy’s Mirror to express themselves so comfortably on stage.
“We’re applying what we’ve been learning in school to what we’re playing,” Ross added.
All the musicians bring in arrangements of songs to cover: For example, Rafa is responsible for the ethereal version of “Nude.” Larson writes the majority of the band’s original songs; her lyrics tend toward the personal.
“When we’re doing originals about a breakup or long distance, people know what we’re talking about,” Ross said. “It’s fun.”
The next step for Lucy’s Mirror is another show on Apr. 3 at Maison2109. Looking past the immediate future, recording plans are on the band’s horizon for next semester.
In the meantime, they will keep writing new songs and collecting new musical ideas, walking the electric tight-rope between careful songwriting and free improvisation.
“It’s the perfect mix between knowing how something should go and figuring it out while it’s happening,” Ross said.
As finals—and final recitals for music students—loom over McGill, Lucy’s Mirror offers an alternative to the pressures of undergraduate life. Their tunes draw musician and listener alike into a small, sonic realm, a shared space of creativity and camaraderie, where inventing as important as memorizing.
“It definitely feels like something different than what I’d be doing in my classes,” Ross said.