Lyra: “Wanting To Sing Was Just In My Blood” 

"I start my songwriting with a feeling.”

Lyra is a Cork-born artist whose self-titled debut album recently went to number 1 in Ireland.

Her songs are filled with clever lyrics woven together with captivating beats. Lyra speaks with us and shares it all, from being asked to change her identity to her fashion sense to how she writes her songs. 

Growing up, you were surrounded by music; you sang in the choir for your Communion, and your mam and sister were great singers. Did music play an important role in your life?

Yes, always and forever. My whole family was musical. As you said my mam, sister, my brother is a great singer, but he won’t sing! I suppose there was just the hub of the family, you know, we’d go to family events, and there would always be a sing-song, always and forever. It’s something I was born into. Wanting to sing was just inherited in my blood.” 

You moved to London to self-fund your EP Wild; when you look back at that time, how does it feel?

It’s very emotional, moving to London to self-fund my EP; as everyone knows, I did loads of work, like, at one point, I was selling baby food at Tesco. I come from really, really struggling a lot but wanting it so badly that I would have done anything to try to get my voice out there, get my music out there and give myself a shot to see if anyone would listen, to see if I was good enough and it paid off. 

So, now being able to be in a position where I can call music my full-time job is something I’ve always wanted to do and wanted to say. To say I’m a professional singer with my heart and chest..that hard work really really stood to me; it makes me a bit emotional because I’ve wanted it so bad, and I’m finally here, and I’ll never take it for granted until the day I die.

You mentioned in a couple of interviews that you were advised to change your look (dark hair, pale skin and change accent when singing), and you did try it. How did that change your identity? 

I was extremely lost. I don’t know who I am or who I’m trying to be. I didn’t feel good enough at all. My confidence was at an all-time low, I felt if I couldn’t be myself, then obviously I wasn’t good enough, and if I was constantly asked to change my vocals, my talking or my appearance, then I obviously didn’t look good enough… It was a constant battle with myself of ‘who am I?’ I hated every second of it.

I got really ill with it, so I started having an eating disorder. Everyone wanted me to be mysterious, and that’s not me. My personality is me and it shows true character and the girl behind the songs, it was so false. It wasn’t a true representation of me. I probably would have gotten to this point [in my career] a lot quicker, but I would have been so unhappy. I could jump ship and start it fresh myself, which I did.

What is your day-to-day style? Do you dress like you do on stage, or are you more low-key?

I do not, I’d be bloody arrested! When I’m around Cork and going around Lidl and Aldi doing some shopping I will be in leggings and a t-shirt. When I’m going out with my friends, I will show up in anything, a massive green tulle dress, a multicoloured leotard or some gold boots!

You have such unique, fun on-stage costumes that are so cool; what inspired your aesthetic? 

Leotards are so comfortable on stage; I love a bit of sparkle. We all know I love gold and silver. I love to have fun with it! I love all the gold colours. My colour aesthetic is emerald green, bright red, black, silver, and gold. I always wanted my first album to be gold and I do it in a nice, cheap way.

Apart from music, what do you like to do for fun? 

You’ll think I’m the cheesiest person in the world, but there are two things. First, murder documentaries; if I can’t switch off after a show, I will switch on a murder documentary to calm me down. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Second, my sister’s kids, I can’t get enough time with them. They’re my ones; I love them.

What is your favourite and least favourite part about being an artist?

My favourite is performing on stage; it’s so juicy, and I love it! It’s so much fun, you get to see people. My least favourite thing is that I’m not a massive fan of how heavily dependent it is on numbers and social media. I love making and singing music; I’m not an influencer.

You mentioned in a previous interview about wanting to have a Number 1 album in Ireland, and you manifested that. How does that feel? 

I’m so happy you found that and said it to me; that is actually quite juicy! I think about it when we speak about it, and I get a burst of excitement, but in an hour’s time, I almost forgot that it has even happened. I had it in my brain that it was never going to happen. I need to be like it happened; enjoy it!

What is your songwriting process and how has it changed over the years?

The main thing that has changed is my confidence in myself. I never felt confident going into a songwriting room. I felt like I couldn’t say certain things. I’m very vocal about everything now and go outside the box a bit, I have to go into different sounds and genres. I start my songwriting with a feeling.

Who are your top 5 musicians of all time? 

  1. Queen has to be one; he [Freddie Mercury] was such a showman and writer, and I think he inspired everyone within the industry. 
  2. Sia, I think her songwriting is fantastic, and I love how she can dip in and out of any genre or emotion.
  3. Sinead O’Connor, being a woman who stood up for herself, is very inspirational.l She was a voice to be reckoned with in every way. She sang in her Irish accent, so having her as an artist taught me that this sound is good enough. She had a part in inspiring me, the same way Dolores [O’Riordan] did.
  4. Adele is amazing for her songwriting skills and telling stories. To be able to tell it with your voice is a real talent.
  5. Beyoncé – her shows are at the next level.I’d love to do even a third of what she puts in creativity into those shows.

What has been your favourite fan interaction? 

My fans are the juiciest people I know. I have one with a dad who brought his daughter along because she was really struggling in school. She burst out crying at the show, she said ‘see, Lyra is weird too.’ I’m a part of the weird club. I know how it feels to be that girl, I was bullied all throughout school, and now my bullies come to my show. Her dad reached out, and it meant so much to me. I didn’t realise the impact that it could have. I cried and cried after I saw that [message].

Lyra headlines Bulmers Live at Leopardstown on Thursday 18th July at Leopardstown Racecourse, Dublin. Tickets from just €30 on sale now here – Check out all things Lyra here.

Words by EmilyRose Nulty