Lyves Opens Up About Her New EP, Change And The Recent Changes In Her Life
She says the EP will be the most blunt and emotional music from her yet.
When Lyves sat down at her piano the night before a recording session, she didn’t expect to write the title song for her new EP. She certainly didn’t expect to write one of her most emotional and personal songs ever. What started as simple chords opened the gate to a whole new world of rawness and vulnerability.
The UK singer has always been known for her emotional music, with songs like The Weather and Darkest Hour. Lyves takes inspiration from soul, jazz and R&B and even describes music as a spiritual experience. But her new songs, How Would It Feel and Change, as well as her EP-to-be, Change, are not only the first tracks that she has put out in two years, but also the most honest.
Lyves sat down with us to talk about her new music, her experience producing, her first music video, taking a break from releasing music, and when we can expect her first album.
Hi Lyves! Tell us about your new single Change.
I was really a little bit nervous about putting it out. Because I think it's such a personal track. It's one of my favorites that I've ever written. It came about very quickly. I remember, I had a session the next day with one of my friends, who's this incredible pianist, to work on some other tracks. And then it was like 10 o'clock, and I was like, “Oh, let me just have a little jam.” And the song came about really quickly, the whole thing. The piano parts are pretty simple. The piano and all the lyrics came within an hour. And then I recorded it there. I felt like I didn't overthink anything. It was a bit uncensored. When I decided that I'd like to release it, I then paid attention to the lyrics a bit more. And I was a bit worried. Yeah, it was just a little bit revealing and really raw and honest.
You also made your first ever music video for Change. What was your inspiration for this video?
For Change, I think because it was such a personal song, it was about how we could strip it down to what this is about. It's obviously a song about change and heartbreak and very real things. I didn't want to make it really literal, like a relationship. So I just thought, “Okay, well, it's a song about my own journey.” And this for the whole EP, I have this concept in mind. I've always loved the theater. So if I didn't do music, I would have loved to act on a theater stage. It's a huge passion of mine. So the concept of the EP is about a woman, I suppose myself, who lives in the theater. So I knew that I wanted it on a theater stage. And then I wanted to keep it raw.
I bought this piano that I now have at home for the video. I knew that I wanted a piano because that's how the song was written, on piano, very simple. And then I got some dancers and had a friend who choreographed it. I wanted them to be an extension of my experience. I also wanted them to be my guardian angels and my guides, because this song was about such a difficult time that I went through. But I felt like something was protecting me and guiding me through it, reminding me that this will pass and you'll get through this. So we tried to encapsulate all those different things. And the director then came up with some other concepts as well, like when I'm on the floor in the frame. So it was a collaboration between myself and the director.
Before the release of change, you took a two year hiatus from music. Why was that break necessary and how did you change during that time?
I released a song I think in December, before the pandemic, called Deep Water. And I felt like it was the end of the years that I've been releasing music. I wanted to go away and write an album. I wanted to stretch myself, I wanted to see what I was capable of. So I decided to take that time, and then in March lockdown happened. I really spent that time learning to produce a lot more. I'm still learning and I've since started producing other artists as well. I also learned to use my voice in different ways, think outside the box, work with more instrumentalists over Zoom, including some incredible jazz artists who are my friends. I would send vocals, and they would send over a bass tape. I just really wanted to explore what I was capable of and where my ears would go on a fresh palate.
So you took a break from releasing music, but not a break from music.
Absolutely. It’s been said that I took a two year break, but I didn’t really. I worked harder than I've ever worked before. I just wasn't out releasing music. The only issue is I have so many unfinished songs, I’m spending the next month editing tracks I wrote from that period.
During that time when you were writing so much music was there a moment when you started writing what has now become the change EP? And then when did you feel like you were ready to start releasing it?
So in the first few months of my writing, I felt like it was flowing, but I knew that it wasn't quite there yet. A lot of artists say this, that you open the creative top. And a lot of the time the stuff that comes at the beginning, isn't that great, if we’re being honest. And that’s okay, because better things are coming. I think change was the first track where I was like, “Oh, I get where I'm going with this music”, I felt like I found my new sound that was a little different. It was still a lot of soulful influence, but a lot more jazz, a lot more experimental, and a lot more truthful. And from there on, every song was really blunt. There was no hiding. Whereas before, I used to use a lot of metaphors, and I still use metaphors, but now, the next song that comes out is even more blunt. And the one after that is even more. I just got really real. Especially with a whole pandemic going on, and so many people having suffered. And I just thought, I should be honest and talk about my situation. Good or bad, difficult or hopeful. Change for me was when I found that really raw place. And what really helped me with the EP was when I sent this link of about 20 SoundCloud demos at the time to one of my favorite producers. I asked if he wanted to produce this project for me. And he picked my favorite four songs. And that was when I felt like I had my next project.
You’ve also talked about how your song How Would It Feel is a portal into the world of Change. This whole EP sounds very connected.
This new project, which precedes my upcoming album, really has its own energy. It’s about a certain period I went through. Not a very easy period, if I’m being completely honest. I’m not in the place where I was when I wrote it anymore. But even now, listening to it, it still affects me. It is really emotionally charged music that is quite different from what I’ve done before. So I’m nervous to put it out. But I’m proud of it.
What is your favorite lyric that you’ve written for the Change EP?
I think one from Change. “Change wrestles you down when you’re afraid, that’s change.” That’s my experience change, is that you can’t really escape. The more you run from it the more it comes for you.
What are you most excited for your fans and listeners to experience in the Change era?
I’m really excited about the next track, it’s really different from anything I’ve done before. It also just shows a different side of me as a person. A lot of people say that my music is quite emotional and raw, but this next song is very confident, it’s very energetic, and it’s very playful, which is a different side. So I’m looking forward to releasing that one and just seeing if it connects and what people think. Hopefully I’m making a video for that one as well.
Can you give us any hints on when we might be able to expect that track?
Definitely within the next six to eight weeks.
Do you have any idea on when you might be getting an album out?
All the songs are written already, it's just a case of getting the production down. Because I produce a lot of my own music, I have a method where I produce at the best of my ability, and then I send the tracks out to my favorite producers and we collaborate on the final production. Now that the songs are written, it's when I can get into that next level. Ideally, I'd really like it to come out early 2023. So not too far away.
Is there a question that you wish you got asked more?
I'm a huge fan of music and music artists. And sometimes, when I watch interviews myself, I really would love to hear more about the nitty gritty of the process and what the music really means to the person. Because for me personally, music is a very spiritual thing, and I think for a lot of artists, it's like that. So I would love for myself and for other artists to be asked “Where do you feel it comes from? And what does it mean to you? What's the process? How do you begin, was it a [musical] cord?” I want to know all the details!
Tell me what that spark was for Change.
For Change, I was literally at my piano, and I found the chord progression. It was very simple, and it's quite repetitive. For me personally, when a chord progression affects me, that's when melodies and lyrics can come. So that's a challenge for me. It's always about “What moves me?” And then I find it and feel like “Okay, this moves me!”. And then the melody came and it was a very special song. It felt like it almost already existed and it had just come through somehow. Like it existed in ether somewhere or in my subconscious and then suddenly, I found the chords to relate that feeling. The chords opened that thing.