- 12 Oct 22
As LYRA returns with her powerful and remarkably vulnerable new single, ‘29 Box’, the Irish star talks candidly about insecurities, online hate, and mental health.
As an artist who has garnered streams in their millions, inspired countless fans, and pushed boundaries with her iconic style, it might come as a surprise to hear LYRA opening her new single with the words: “I never feel good enough, I’m always second guessing myself…”
The track, ‘29 Box’ – titled after the most common dimensions of the “perfect” social media post – delves into the dark realities of having an online presence, as well as addressing issues like self-esteem and mental health.
“I don’t think people are expecting it,” the Cork artist says of the new single. “Some people – because of the way I dress and the way I speak – would think that I’m a very confident person. But it shows the unconfident side of me, and the more vulnerable state I was in.
“I only wrote it two or three months ago, at home by myself, feeling like absolute shite,” she continues. “I sat down with my iPad and literally wrote it in an hour and a half.”
Social media, she says, can be “a fantastic tool”, but “there’s a small percentage of people that can make it a very dark and lonely place.”
“That day, I was up to my eyeballs in it,” she resumes. “It was affecting me mentally, and making me question myself, and ask, ‘Am I good enough?’ I was massively overthinking things, and comparing myself to other people. And comparing myself to things that I was seeing online. I kind of got swallowed up in that dark hole.
“I’m not an over-confident, cocky person, who’s like, ‘I do what I want to do – if people like me, they like me, and if they don’t, they don’t!’ Because some days when they don’t, it hurts.”
With very few corners of the internet safe from mindless hate, LYRA feels a lot more needs to be done.
“There should be supports for everyone online,” she says. “Regardless of age or sex, we’re all affected by it. We have seen kids who’ve been cyberbullied at a very young age, and have taken their own lives. Everyone needs help.
“But I also think that we, as a public, need to step back – and if you are one of those people who are causing what I’m going to call this black hole, you need to realise that this isn’t benefiting anybody,” she continues. “If people would just think before they wrote something how it could affect somebody, we wouldn’t even be in this situation. It’s disheartening to think that, as a human race, we’re doing it to ourselves.”
As she points out, even the less malicious side of social media still tends to present a distorted version of reality.
“Sometimes I feel like I’m not being my true self but it’s just because I can’t portray that in a flat image that I put up online,” she considers. “I’m sucking in and striking a pose in the photos that you see of me – believe me!”
Of course, in today’s industry, artists are increasingly expected to maintain a round-the-clock online presence.
“We’re seeing a lot of artists coming out now saying their labels are forcing them to go on TikTok, or forcing them to do this or that on social media, that they might not be comfortable with,” LYRA says. “Sometimes you have to be like, ‘Wait, what am I? Am I an influencer? Am I a TikToker? Am I an artist?’ You have to be all-encompassing, and that definitely doesn’t come naturally to me! If anyone has seen my TikTok, they know – I’m shocking at it! I’m like, ‘Can I just go to the studio and write? And go on stage and perform?’ That’s actually all I want to do. And dress up, of course!”
Although her bold style is a major part of her artistry, LYRA isn’t immune to moments of self-consciousness.
“We all have insecurities inside of us, no matter what front we put on,” she reflects. “You can work on elements of yourself, like your confidence, or building up your self-esteem. But there’s always something inside of us, talking in the back of our minds, and dragging us down, making us a bit insecure.
“I’ve always had that,” she continues. “I remember going into school one day, and I decided to do this wacky hairstyle. I twisted all my hair and put loads of clips in. There were a few girls mocking me, and throwing digs at me. Things like that always happened. That made me want to not stand out as much as I wanted to.
“Now that I’m a bit older, I’m like, ‘No, if I want to stand out, I will’. It doesn’t come without a bit of backlash, but I’m not going to stop. I’m not going to hide that side of me, just because of this small percentage of people.”
Those insecurities, and the mental health issues that they can bubble over into, are further explored as the song progresses.
“It is scary, being extremely honest because a lot of people might not know these things about me,” she reflects. “And it’s not all about me. In the second verse, it’s about having friends and having people who have taken their lives. And thinking, ‘We all should have done more’.
“This is happening,” she adds. “I love that we’re in this new era, that mental health is being talked about. Because when my mum and dad were growing up, mental health was not talked about. Not a hope in hell. They’d be like, ‘What’s wrong with ya?’ So I’m delighted that, as an artist, I feel confident enough to shine a light on it. Because people deserve that.”
She particularly hopes that the lyrics will resonate with young people.
“We need to mind that younger generation,” she says. “They’re just starting off in this world, and they’re being heavily influenced by a lot of things that are being thrown at them. They need to hear that it’s okay to have these feelings. It’s okay to talk about them. I hope young girls who follow me can be like, ‘Oh, LYRA feels like this too, so it’s okay for me to feel like that’. Just so they won’t feel in such a dark place, and they won’t feel so alone.”
With a busy few months of gigging ahead of her – encompassing a major tour of Ireland, including a 3Olympia Theatre headliner, and an upcoming arena tour with Westlife – looking after both her mental health is one of LYRA’s top priorities.
“It’s a small team, but we’re all very close,” she tells me. “And my dad tries to come on as much of the tour with me as he can. There’s nothing better than having your dad there for a hug and a cry! I try to keep people around me that, if I do feel a bit mentally wobbly, I can just have a conversation with, and it’s done. I’m really enjoying being back on stage, and I don’t want that to be overshadowed by me massively over-thinking every single little thing. I want to enjoy singing my songs to people, and just have fun. That’s what it’s all about.”
See LYRA’s upcoming live dates, including 3Olympia Theatre, Dublin (November 8) at lyra.ie
Team: Make up: Sandra Gillen / Hair: Sian Sharkey /
Photo: Evan Doherty / Styled - Lyra /
Fashion credits – Gloves: Paula Rowan / Cat bodysuit: Ana Ljubinkovic