Photos by Dylan Schattman
Juliet Simms is dead. But with every end there is a new beginning: From the filth and dust that remained of Simms rose a new being ready to wreak havoc on rock ‘n’ roll—Lilith Czar. “I felt this longing for something more meaningful, something bigger and something that could represent change,” Czar says. “Considering everything I’d gone through in my career, a light bulb went off and I became a completely different person. I knew I wanted to completely shift directions and change everything.”
After 15 years of going by her government name as she performed in bands and as a solo artist, Czar left it all behind. She knew this was a risk, but it was a change that needed to happen. Many musicians or bands have changed their names over the years. Hell, Prince even became an unpronounceable symbol in 1993. Becoming Lilith Czar was more than a simple change of image, it was a rejection of her past as well as a complete rebirth across aesthetics, sound and spirit.
“Lilith is a symbol of female empowerment,” Czar says. “Throughout different cultures and time periods, there are all these different depictions of Lilith. In Sumerian language, she’s this demon who’s said to have a screech like an owl and is kind of a maneater. Whereas in Wiccan culture, she’s revered as this incredible goddess who represents sexual freedom.
“Then in the Bible, she’s created from the same filth and dirt as Adam and because of that, she felt she was his equal,” she continues. “I think that’s such a strong story and really represents what women continue to go through. The name Lilith is not just mine, it represents all women.”
While Lilith signifies her feminine side, she took an entirely different approach with her surname. She didn’t want to be a queen, an empress or a czarina—instead she chose to be a king. She would go on to elaborate on this concept in her single “King” from her 2021 album, “Created From Filth and Dust.” “I started writing that song in 2019 when I was on tour,” Czar says. “I had been on predominantly male tours and over time the sexism, misogyny and subjugation you experience can start to weigh on you. It stacks up until one day, one little straw and one little comment that wouldn’t be said to a man breaks the heap.
“I was the only woman on this summer festival tour and a man said something to me that he wouldn’t have if I had a dick,” she continues. “I lost it, but I didn’t cause a scene or anything. I just lost it in the sense that I went back to my bus and started writing ‘King.’ The first lyric I wrote is, ‘If it’s a man’s world, I don’t want to be queen / If it’s a man’s world, I want to be king.’ And that’s where it started.”
From “King,” Czar would go on to craft an album centered on self-liberation and unapologetic self-expression. She used this album to break away from her earlier work, not only bringing a much harder sound to the record, but straying away almost entirely from love songs. “Created From Filth and Dust” is all about taking the power back.
“The beginning of the album actually starts with a poem, which is essentially the story of women or anyone who’s ever felt ignored, put down, cast away or oppressed,” Czar says. “It talks about the people in their ivory towers who are a bunch of hypocrites. The album then goes into a song called ‘Feed My Chaos,’ which is about not being defined by one thing and being a walking dichotomy. Being defined by ugliness and beauty, heaven and hell, kindness and rage—it’s a song about not letting others pigeonhole you into what they want you to be.”
Throughout the album, Czar is fighting back against various forces. In “King,” she’s fighting against the patriarchy. “Anarchy” showcases her rebellion from societal expectations. Her songs “Lola” and “Diamonds to Dust” are about pushing away from forces that attempt to hold power over you. Throughout the entire album Czar is taking a stand against the music industry and the restrictions it’s placed upon her.
Czar began her career as the frontwoman of the band Automatic Loveletter and gained notoriety performing on the Warped Tour Summer circuit. Czar then branched out by competing on the second season of “The Voice,” which allowed her to gain a larger audience as a solo artist. And though her career was on the rise, she struggled to obtain creative freedom from her record labels and hadn’t been able to make music her way—until now.
“[This album] is what I wanted my sound to be all along,” Czar says. “It’s my own sound, as opposed to my music being steered towards sounding like another artist’s style of music. I would always try to say, ‘Can’t we originate something ourselves rather than having it sound like someone else?’ But I would say this record is the most me to date.”
“Created From Filth and Dust” encapsulates who Lilith Czar is, however, it was not a completely solo project. Czar worked closely with producer and songwriter Scott Stevens, who also appears on projects with Halestorm, Shinedown and In This Moment. She also covers Stevie Nicks’ iconic 1982 single, “Edge of Seventeen,” which follows the album’s themes of creation, death and rebirth. Then there’s “Bad Love,” which was written by Juliet Simms before she was metaphorically killed off.
“‘Bad Love’ was put on the record because that song was written at the beginning of the creation of ‘Created From Filth and Dust,’” she continues. “That song and ‘Burn With Me’ are probably the two songs that stand out the most on the album. Sonically, they don’t quite fit in with the rest of the record, but I felt like they needed to be put on there because they were the strike that lit the match.”
“Created From Filth and Dust” was released on April 23, 2021 and over the last year and change, she’s been promoting it through music videos as well as supporting Halestorm and The Pretty Reckless on their summer 2022 tour. In that time, her fans have been able to appreciate the album’s 12 tracks and now, she has new music waiting in the wings.
“I’m trying to make a deluxe version of the album happen this year,” Czar says. “There’ll be a couple more stripped [down] songs on the more vulnerable side, but they’re powerful in tone and lyrics. One of the songs is called ‘Break My Spirit,’ which is about a person who will remain nameless I had to deal with professionally. I’m telling them to fuck off and that they won’t break this girl. That song felt good to put that ‘fuck you’ onto paper.
“There’s another song called ‘Twilight’ that my fans have been wanting me to release for years and I’m praying that I can get it on the deluxe,” she continues. “It’s a song about getting older and asking the question, ‘Are you still going to love me in the twilight of my days?’ It speaks to normalizing aging and the way we’re all getting older at the same time. But it’s also a song about loving one another despite all the flaws that come with life.”
Czar plans to have the deluxe version of “Created From Filth and Dust” ready by the end of the year. In the meantime, she’s dedicating her time to expanding her tattoo collection. She’s been getting tattooed for years, and over time her tastes have changed quite a bit. As of late, collecting tattoos has been a means of further transforming from Juliet Simms into Lilith Czar. “I have my record, ‘Created From Filth and Dust,’ tattooed here,” Czar says, pointing to the script on the side of her forearm. “I also have a devil cherub with a snake, which represents a fallen angel. Then there’s my sacred heart with the rose, which is traditionally associated with Lilith. I also have the name ‘Lilith’ tattooed on the back of my leg and I have plans to get an anime rendition of what Lilith traditionally looks like at some point.”
Although Czar has been getting tattooed since her early days, she’s upped the frequency at which she gets tattoos in recent years. This can largely be attributed to her overall embrace of her authentic self. “Tattoos are so much more fun when they’re meaningful,” Czar says. “It’s almost like it doesn’t matter if they’re done perfectly, the meaning is what’s most important. In the last couple of years, I’ve gotten close to 18 tattoos. I have all of these ideas and things that are meaningful to me or I’ve always wanted. Now I’m just going for that.”
With the birth of new body art comes the inevitable death of tattoos that no longer serve Czar. “I’m in the process of blasting off a few tattoos right now,” Czar says. “I’m getting rid of this one (points to bird silhouette on forearm) that I got when I was 19—it was just a bad decision. I was on tour, drunk as fuck and the guy that was tattooing me was drunk as hell. Then I was in the sun every day and it healed terribly. I want to start a half sleeve over it and I’m in the process of creating space.”
It may appear as if Lilith Czar has changed everything about herself—from her name to her music to her tattoos. Before Czar had the ability to speak her truth or had even made the spiritual connection to Adam’s first wife, there was a fire brewing inside of her. She knew she was destined for greatness and with her newfound purpose, the reign of Lilith Czar has only just begun.