Lily was born in Hammersmith and grew up quickly, listening to punk, ska and reggae, courtesy of her parents' record collections. They moved frequently around London - Shepherds Bush, Bloomsbury, Islington, where she continue to absorb music. At 14 she was into jungle and drum and bass. After getting expelled from more than one school, she was was sent off to boarding school, while finally dropping out at age 15. Books and music held her interest, and helped her express herself.
Lily does not play an instrument, which she feels helps her focus on the vocal melody and her lyrics. Here's a sample of her lyrics from everyday life in London:
There was a little old lady who was walking down the road.
She was struggling with bags from Tesco.
There were people in the city having lunch in the park. I believe that is called alfresco.
Then a kid came along to offer a hand.
But before she had time to accept it, hits her over the head.
Doesn't care if she's dead
'Cause he's got all her jewelry and wallet.
Lily's current listening is not that of an average 20-year-old. Even a cursory glimpse at her site shows a breathtaking appreciation of diverse music. Listed amongst a host of current and unsigned dance artists are names like The Specials, Rip Rig and Panic, T.Rex ("possibly the best band ever, ever!") The Slits, Blondie, Wreckless Eric, Kate Bush, Prince, and Eminem.
Lily Allen built a solid fan base on the Internet, topping the UK singles chart in July 2006 with her song "Smile." In October she was awarded the Best Pop Artist in the Fifth Annual Digital Music Awards, London, and her debut album is being released this month in the states. The reaction to all of this has left her reeling.