Get to Know Local Music: Lyla Abukhodair and Delicate Friend

These two offer a breath of fresh Minnesotan air

Being one of the go-to spots for local live music, the 331 Club wields a power over Minneapolis. The dive bar is known for its intimacy and old-school vibe, drawing crowds every night. Even after being remodeled since its opening in 1899, the 331 Club still holds the same atmosphere as it did in the (very) late 19th century.  Their calendar is all filled up with local artists taking the stage almost every night, and special events are scattered around for all those trivia fiends out there.

On July 20, three artists will share the night. It will be a collection of punk, rock, and folk. Enjoy the food and drinks this Wednesday at the 331 Club while you listen to the musical stylings of Lyla Abukhodair, Delicate Friend, and Babie Eyes. In the meantime, get to know Abukhodair and Delicate Friend, who are changing the perception of local music.

Abukhodair and Delicate Friend’s vocalist Andrea Leonard have a shared history together. They were both members of a folk band prior to the pandemic. When the band ended, Abukhodair went on to explore solo music and Leonard founded Delicate Friend. With both Abukhodair and Delicate Friend sharing the night, the old friends will be reunited. “It’s really emotional in a good way, in the best way,” Leonard says. “It’s really amazing for us to play together as friends when we’ve grown and changed so much.” Both have changed musically compared to what they once created together.

Lyla Abukhodair 

One year into going solo, Duluth’s Lyla Abukhodair already has an EP and album under her belt. She’s bringing punk to the Minnesota music scene, challenging expectations of Duluth music. Duluth is a folk-centric city, but there are other genres floating around. After her experience in a folk band, Abukhodair wanted a change. “[My goal was] to kind of break some molds that I put around me,” she says. “That wasn’t me. I grew into something new.” She knew that she wanted her music to go back to her roots. “I grew up with three older brothers and they kind of got me into music,” Abukhodair says. “We were always listening to punk music, even if it was Christmas time.” Now, Abukhodair is the definition of punk rock.

Photo by Chris Wodicka

Abukhodair first recorded an unreleased album, which she decided did not quite fit what she was looking for. So, she gathered the songs that did and put out her first release in the summer of 2021, her EP titled “Your Mom Hates Me Now”. She recently released her debut album “Scream” this past spring and it surprised her by being unintentionally cohesive. The common theme: Lyla Abukhodair. “I really wrote about a lot of different parts of myself,” she remarks. “I explored different themes and identities that made it me.” Some themes that are touched upon in her album include being a second generation immigrant, sexual assault, and other experiences that others might relate to. “I want people to feel heard and supported,” she says.

Entrancing vocals and strong lyrics stand out impressively against the instrumentals in her album. “Scream” holds a duality with intimate songs like “A Song For Me” and “A Song For You” creating a one-on-one experience between you and Abukhodair, and pulse-rising songs like “Scream” and “Tornado” where all you want to do is dance to the crunchy sound in a crowd. “That’s what I love about punk music,” Abukhodair says. “You don’t have to sing about super happy things, but it can be fun. At least we’re here together, [the music] is relatable.”

Delicate Friend

Consisting of four members, Delicate Friend transforms traditional rock into a wispy version. Vocalist of Delicate Friend, Andrea Leonard, describes their sound as “witchy rock” with “kind of gritty and kind of melodic” tones. It didn’t start this way, though. Leonard had a collection of original music she had written after her folk band with Abukhodair ended. “I wrote most of the music by myself [and] when I played them in my bedroom with my acoustic guitar, it sounded more folksy,” she said. It was when all four of the members came together, because of messaging in Facebook groups and reconnecting with old school friends, that it ended up sounding more rock—and Leonard fell in love with the sound.

Photo by Chris Wodicka

The name Delicate Friend has a more interesting origin than what you would expect. Leonard describes the process of finding a name as difficult; nothing felt right and nothing stuck. Until one day, when the group was partaking in their usual activity of sending jokes and memes in their group chat, they came across different translations of Sappho’s poetry. Sappho has a fragment that was once translated from the original ancient Greek into “may you sleep on the breast of your delicate friend.” The group chat quickly pointed out that Sappho’s collection of poems consists largely of a woman being the object of affection, and it is a popular theory that Sappho was a lesbian. In fact, the word lesbian comes from Sappho, stemming from the island of Lesbos, where Sappho resided. The translation of “delicate friend” seemed funny and odd to the four members given the context and was jokingly offered as a band name. It was the only name that seemed right. “All of us are under the umbrella of LGBTQ+,” says Leonard, so it was a humorous connection between them and this specific Sappho translation.

With influences ranging from Alanis Morrisette to Evanescence to Joni Mitchell, Delicate Friend has a ’90s rock base with a delicious touch of folk. Leonard describes it as “walking in the woods when it’s getting cloudy or getting dark.” Delicate Friend has figured out their sound after only being together for a year and they have solid plans for the future.

Delicate Friend does not have any released music, but that is soon to change. Leonard alluded to a release coming, so be prepared to soon listen to Delicate Friend at the witching hour. In the meantime, check out their Instagram / @delicatefriendmusic and Facebook / @delicatefriend for updates on performances.

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