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Maoury was able to draw inspiration from both the Valley and Northern Virginia for his latest project.

In between harmonica riffs and banjo melodies, Nicholas Maoury, known by his stage name, Lilac War, sings his song “Appalachian Great” on the March 3-released EP, “In Lieu of Youth.”

Maoury (’20), a Winchester, Virginia, native and former computer science major, was introduced to friends at JMU who supported his musical aspirations and gave him the confidence to begin recording music. JMU also gave Maoury the resources and performance opportunities to begin establishing himself as an artist such as TDU open mic nights, Relay for life and Madipalooza.

When he began drafting music, Maoury said he drew inspiration from the Irish singer-songwriter Hozier and the Appalachian region as a whole, stating the area has a distinct sound that’s apparent in bands like Dogwood Tails. During his time in Harrisonburg, going to various house shows to see fellow students perform also inspired Maoury to play at venues around the area.

“Clementine is a great place to play. The Golden Pony is amazing,” Maoury said. “The various breweries that are around, especially Restless Moon, probably played there, like five or six times.”

While the “Lilac War” title is exclusive to Maoury, who produces, records and plays all the instruments for his projects, the artist is often joined on stage by friends, especially when playing in Harrisonburg. Recently, Maoury collaborated with Michael Chladon, a current co-worker at Brightspot technology company in Northern Virginia. The two shared a database course together during their time at JMU and reconnected over music while at the company, Chladon said.

“Music came up kind of naturally,” Chladon said. “It’s a big part of his life. It’s a big part of my life as well.” The two began their musical collaboration this past January.

Chladon said both artists have participated in casual open-mic events in Northern Virginia and referenced a recent 45-minute show the two played. The show was particulary challenging, Chladon said, because the brewery wasn’t open to live performers for the night. The duo was able to perform, however, with special premission.

Another collaborator of Maoury and fellow JMU alumus is Kyle Van Fleet, a photographer who began working with Lilac War in 2017. Van Fleet was introduced to Maoury when the artist was a freshman orientation guide, or “FROG,” for one of his friends. Since meeting, Van Fleet has done several photoshoots for Lilac War and considers the artist different from other musicians he’s worked with in the Harrisonburg area.

“Nick is definitely, like, the most serious of them,” Van Fleet said. “It’s great to see what he’s been able to do.”

Van Fleet further commented on the increase in production value of Lilac War’s projects since their first collaboration. Over the years, Van Fleet has seen Maoury’s growth both in technical musical experience and in song writing, even referencing the artist’s change from mostly acoustic to venturing further into Americana and the bedroom pop genre.

Chladon’s also observed the vast progression from some of Maoury’s earlier work. As a longtime friend and artist himself, it was interesting to see the changes Maoury made both as an artist and human, he said.

“As an artist … you start somewhere and you start writing songs and you know, as you get more experienced, just more experiences in life that translate to music,” Chladon said. “That just develops over time.”

Recently, Maoury has ventured into intertwining both Appalachian music trends with those of large pop acts, calling himself  a “mega fan” of the English pop-rock band, The 1975. Clips of Maoury covering The 1975’s tracks can be seen on the artist’s Instagram and the band’s influence is evident in Lilac War’s most recent EP where Maoury said he formed his “own genre of music.” Van Fleet accompanied the release with his photography and described that the photos very much match the feelings the record evokes.

Since moving from the Appalachian region to Northern Virginia along with the artist, Chladon saw sonic inspiration of both settings evident in the EP, contrasting the ruralness of the Appalachian region to the urbanness of Nova.

“It’s a very unique genre,” Chladon said. “Just the setting of the music, the setting of grinding that music and being down there for four years in school, I think definitely translates to the music.”

When asked of his first impression of the EP, Chladon characterized the song “Hibernating,” which was released as a single before the project, as owning an entrancing atmosphere that surrounds the EP. The track displays Maoury’s peak ability of songwriting and Chladon’s even able to mimic the slide guitar portion when playing live with Lilac War.

Moving forward, Van Fleet said he hopes to collaborate with Maoury coming off the artist’s brief hiatus during the pandemic. Along with photography shoots, Van Fleet said he hopes Lilac War will continue experimenting with different sounds through new projects.

Both Chladon and Maoury spoke on the past influence of Harrisonburg when looking toward their future with Chladon, stating returning to the ‘burg for shows is a possibility. An upbeat, lighter song about leaving the friendly city from Lilac War is currently in the works, Maoury said.

For Harrisonburg artists looking to implement themselves into the music scene, Maoury said to keep on pushing. 

“Just pursue music because you love music and you like writing and recording,” Maoury said. “See your favorite bands, your favorite artists, see what’s happening locally.”

Contact Evan Moody at For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter and Instagram @Breeze_Culture.