Ears Wide Open: Cillie Barnes


The moniker is Cillie, as in “silly,” and Barnes, from a family name. But Cillie Barnes is not a new, honey-voiced angel dropped from the heavens – it’s just the new musical incarnation of Vanessa Long, co-founder of the L.A. folk-pop outfit Family of the Year. The O.C.-bred songstress departed FOTY last year, deciding after a tour supporting Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros that “this wasn’t quite the life I signed up for.” Now, she says, “I’m free to work on my own songs, although I couldn’t be doing it without the help of some good friends,” including FOTY’s Joe Keefe.

The breezy “Hey Hi,” a single she says is mostly about being open to engaging new people, was partially inspired by one of her old “haunts,” Knott’s Scary Farm, and the song “Indian Hill” melds folk and hip-hop (not unlike the way Alex Ebert did on his solo “Alexander” album) while accentuating the vocalist’s chewy phrasing. “Most of what I write comes in the middle of the night, just freestyling the lyrics and the melody while I go,” says Long, who has an album’s worth of material in the works and plans to assemble a band with an eye on live shows soon. “I’ve been fortunate enough to have people who are helping me develop things musically.”

||| Download: “Hey Hi”

||| Also: Stream “Indian Hill”:

Photo: Harper Smith Photography