Given her background, it makes sense that singer-songwriter Kiley Lotz, who currently records and tours as Petal, would have one of indie rock’s more captivating voices. The woman can truly sing. Part of the credit belongs to her mother, the choir director at the Scranton, PA high school that Lotz attended. Her father, who worked as a fireman and often had days off, would always have music playing around the home too.
“I was inundated by music,” says Lotz in a recent phone interview from her Philadelphia home. She performs with Sir Babygirl, Cave People and Biitchseat
at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 16, at Mahall’s
in Lakewood. “It was a natural inclination to want to sing and play instruments. I was lucky that [my parents] encouraged that.”
Lotz says the DIY venues in the Scranton area provided outlets not only for her group but also for various other local bands, no matter what genre of music they played.
“It was really eclectic,” she says of the Scranton scene. “There were [bands like] Title Fight and the Swims. Everyone was doing their own thing and being supportive. I was playing solo on the piano and singing. I felt like I didn’t fit in, but people were really supportive of me. I was grateful for that. If that didn’t exist when I was a teenager, I don’t know what I would’ve done.”
Initially, she worked on the arrangements of the songs that would appear on her 2013 debut, Scout
, by playing them live.
“We recorded it for three days in my friend’s garage,” she says of the album. “It was my first experience with that kind of recording project, and it was so much fun and new and exciting. I felt really proud of what we made. That was the beginning. I posted the songs online and then I signed with [the record label] Run For Cover not too long after that.”
The songs on her latest effort, Magic Gone
, started to come together three years ago. It was a particularly tumultuous time in her life, and the emotional upheaval would find its way into the material. The album begins with the lurching "Better Than You." It also includes sparse tunes such as "I'm Sorry," a brittle ballad that finds Lotz crooning over an acoustic guitar riff.
“I started to have some big realizations about what I needed in my life to be a better and happier person,” she says. “I was touring a lot but not feeling well and not feeling happy.”
She took some time away from touring to “get healthy” and “get help.” She also came out during that time off.
“That was crucial,” she says. “This record is a sort of a culmination of life experiences that have ushered me into adulthood officially. I’ll be 28 soon. It was that shift from the last stretch of adolescence that lingers into your early 20s. It’s about learning about yourself and that accountability to yourself and owing it to yourself to take care of your mind and health. That’s integral. This record is the moment where I decided to make some serious changes and drop the illusion that I had everything together and try to exist just as a work-in-progress.”
She says the reaction she’s received from fans has been “amazing.”
“Every time I play the songs, I feel stronger in what I’m doing and what I have to say and my ability to hopefully do them justice,” she says. “It’s been amazing to see how the songs resonate with different audiences and what the message does to people. I’ve had interesting conversations with fans, and it’s been really humbling and eye-opening to how much people want to have the space to feel vulnerable.”