- 04 Feb 20
Cork singer Lyra on turning heartbreak into great songs and why 2020 is going to be her biggest year yet.
There’s something media training can’t teach you, and that’s charisma. Lyra, Ireland’s new rising star from Cork, has it in spades, as well as a delightful sense of humour. Case in point: at one stage during the interview, she tells me what colour her knickers are (to whom it may concern, they were nude). It’s a refreshing approach that makes her stand out from all the other up-and-coming female singers.
Lyra doesn’t shy away from sharing hilarious personal anecdotes either, like her mum’s reaction to her latest single, ‘Mother’.
“I was like, ‘Mum, I need some photos of you for the artwork’,” explains the singer. “She said, ‘Me? Can you not just call it mother and put up a photo of yourself?’ She was a bit shy at the start, but I think once everyone reacted very positively, she was proud. And now every time she hears it, she cries, though she’s listened to it many times. Now she’s like, ‘I’m gonna have to be signing autographs around Cork’. I’m like, ‘No, you’re not, but okay. Just go with it’. She’s loving life now.”
‘Mother’ is a song about standing up for yourself, that’s very close to Lyra’s heart. So much so that she almost didn’t release it.
“I wasn’t originally going to bring it out as a single. But then, I was like, ‘It’s too good to let go, let’s make this a thing’. It’s quite personal and I never thought anyone would ever hear it. But I loved it to death, so I decided to release it.”
Lyra believes that honesty is vital to her work. “I have to write about something that’s either happened to me, or that I’d be able to relate to,” she notes. “I’ve written one or two where I tried to be cool and edgy, and I’ve been like, ‘Oh yeah, doing drugs in the toilet’. But I was like, ‘Who are you kidding? You’ve never done drugs in your life’. So that kind of stuff doesn’t really work for me.”
As witty as Lyra is, she also has a serious side – no more so than when she reflects on the hurtful break-up of her last relationship.
“2019 was really hard for me,” she acknowledges. “I went through a really bad break-up and I thought I was never going to get over it.” But, as the saying goes, time heals all wounds, and she eventually recovered from the heartbreak.
“I’m way more confident in myself now,” she notes. “I know what I want in life. I know my worth a bit better than I did before, because I was literally such a pushover.”
They say that a broken heart writes the best love songs. “My ex has helped me write some really good tunes,” she smiles. “All of my new tracks are powerful, anthemic kind of songs. Like, I woke up one morning and I was so upset, I managed to write a really good ballad just by myself, there at home. I wouldn’t have been able to do that if he hadn’t broken my fucking heart!”
The singer’s 2019 wasn’t all tears and heartbreak. In addition to the phenomenal success of her singles ‘Mother’ and ‘Falling’, Lyra made it to Nashville and L.A. to record new music and, for the second time, took to the stage at Electric Picnic. It was her most memorable festival appearance yet. “This year, people actually came to see me! They haven’t just fallen into the stage and been like, ‘Oh, who is this weirdo onstage?’ They knew who I was, that was weird. And then I got so comfortable onstage at the last song, I just did the crab across the stage and had an out-of-body experience (laughs).”
So what’s next for Lyra? “At the moment, I’m in talks with my team, cos I have thousands of songs. Literally, I could probably start selling them to people (laughs). So we’re talking about whether we’re going to go for a few more singles, or whether we’re going to do an album. But next year, there’s going to be a lot of new music and lot more live performances, which I’m very excited about.”
Lyra is set to play her biggest headline show to date at The Academy in Dublin, in March. “To be honest, I’m actually shitting myself,” she confesses with that trademark straightforwardness. “This is really big – people have been buying tickets for this show and I cannot disappoint them. It’s another step I’m really looking forward to. It’ll be a challenge. But it’s gonna be great!”
Lyra plays The Academy, Dublin on Thursday, March 5.
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