Lily Vengco’s Musical Journey to Self-Acceptance


“I was diagnosed with major depression, I was off the rails. The only thing I found that really brought me back down to earth was music. You realize life is beautiful through music.”
That statement, from Lily Vengco, speaks to the serious, life-affirming aspirations behind the 17-year-old senior’s burgeoning music career.
“Listening to musicians’ stories and hearing their music made me want to keep going, because it is genuinely just beautiful,” Lily said. “I want to relay that same feeling that I get from that, which helped me through my darkest times, to other people.”
Lily was exposed to music from a very young age when her father, Joel, also a music enthusiast, gifted her a toy piano. She immersed herself deeply into music for the first time at the age of six years old, writing songs all the way through elementary and middle school. Lily released her first EP, a three-song collection titled “EP 01,” on February 14, 2020.
Lily plays ukulele, piano and guitar. In music, Lily has found her passion and way to impact others. Music, she said, provides her a creative and healthy outlet for the struggles of teenage life.
Lily partly credits her success to four important role models in her life: three global pop superstars, and one a little closer to home.
“My dad grew up wanting to be a musician all his life,” she said. “He raised me with the intention that I would learn how to play music, and so he got me into playing piano really early. Everything else after was my self interest.”
Along with family, Lily considers Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, and Sia as her main role models in the music business. All three artists persevered and accomplished their goals regardless of other people’s opinions, which inspires Lily.
“Sia had major depression when she was younger, and then she got through it with music,” Lily explained. “Lady Gaga grew up with people who didn’t believe she could fulfill her dream, and then she did. Miley Cyrus was scrutinized by the media for a very long time and decided that she was just going to be herself, and it worked. I find that very inspirational.”
These successful artists used music to emancipate themselves from limiting situations, which Lily admires.
“It is all very freeing,” Lily said about Sia, Lady Gaga, and Miley Cyrus. “You listen to their music and that’s what you feel.”
Lily said her own songs reflect her feelings at the moment, and that’s what makes her songs authentic.
“I find that as a musician I like to write songs that relate to how I am feeling,” she said. “I am not going to write a love song when I don’t feel like love or I don’t feel like attached or I don’t feel something like that.”
In the particular case of her EP, Lily reveals that it is meant to be a story about love. The three songs on the album are: “Lonely Girl in Me,” “The Telepath,” and “I Don’t Ever Think About You.” Lily performed the first song at an all-school assembly earlier this year, to a rousing standing ovation.
While she has mostly written based on other people’s experiences, she finds pieces of herself in every song of hers.
“It’s like in literature, the things you write and all things you relay have some of your experience in them,” she said.
Lily shared that “Lonely Girl In Me” was the first one she took pride in, and offered her insight about what the song means.
“What it is to me is being in love a thousand times and experiencing it new every time,” she said.
Lily explains that the songs are not supposed to be logical or factual, but rather based on pure emotion. When talking about “The Telepath,” Lily said it was written based on the desire for a feeling rather than the experience of the feeling itself.
“I of course am too young to know what being in love is like,” Lily said. “The song is just based off rom-coms and those movies. Before I wrote ‘The Telepath,’ I watched ‘The Notebook’ or something really stupidly funny and I loved it and it was very romantic. And I was like ‘I wanna know what that feels like.’ So, I wrote a song pretending I knew what it felt like.”
Lily says that when she first released an EP, she was mostly driven by other people’s opinions, which caused her to constantly doubt the magnitude of her accomplishment.
“I cared a lot about what other people thought about the music,” she said. “I don’t want to do it this time. I want to release my music for me, which is the whole point of music.”
To that end, Lily said she will not let these same fears affect her when she releases her next album.
“I’m releasing my next EP with no strings attached, with no intentions of people being satisfied with what I made,” she said. “I want me being satisfied with what I made.”