With an enviable resume - counting violin-backing for some industry greats such as Dolly Parton, Eminem and Annie Lennox, to name a few - Lydia Luce is a force to be reckoned with.
The love child of American indie and a bohemian sensibility, the singer-songwriter's fanbase enjoys a retreat into a world in which dreams can come true, made all the more fresh by Luce's resistance to stereotyping. With lyrics that speak to a wild imagination, Lydia Luce has her feet firmly on the ground, reflecting her dedication to making her music accessible for all with content focusing on artistic visions for her album and band Lockeland Strings.
Luce's approach to stardom comes with a healthy dose of humility and makes her all the more interesting to an already dedicated legion of listeners.
Ahead of the release of her third studio album Florida Girl, including new track Other Side, we sat down with Luce to get to know more about her creative process and how memories influence her work, as well as gaining an insight into the artist's hopes for the future and how it feels to have reached success.
On Style: Shifting Genres and Creative Freedom
Lydia Luce's creative catalogue defies the lack of nuance often found in the industry, sitting comfortably outside its own influences, a theme which has always been at the fore of Luce's writing and where she envisions her work heading next. "Some of my favorite artists float between genres or completely outside of them," Luce describes. "I want to keep exploring and not stick to one genre with my music." The fluidity of her work is one that Luce embraces. 'If the song wants to live in a certain genre that doesn't exist in my current catalogue then I want to let it go there.'
Other Side gives a glimpse into the creative forces at work in the artist's mind, both in her lyrics and the meditations behind them. When asked about the process of creating a visual for her newest single, Luce gives credit to the support of other artists. "Usually it’s a collaborative effort with the videographer I’m working with," she describes, "I may have a vibe idea like I want the video to be blue or in black and white. I may have a theme that reflects the lyrics of the song." Together with the videographer, Luce's creations come to life, shifting between editorial art-house and domestic visions of the sea.
Lydia Luce falls into a long line of genre-defiant artists, and her own musical tastes reflect that. Asked who inspired her early on in her career, she doesn't waver. "Feist. I love the way she shifts her genres and creates what she wants to create without perimeters," Luce enthuses. "I try to do that with my music as well."
On The Creative Process: Challenges and Experience
Her latest release, Other Side, invites us into her mindset during the pandemic. As Luce reflects, "life and death were very heavy on all of our minds." For most recording artists, the way in which they move through the world drives much of their writing, and Lydia Luce is no exception. "Most of my writing is a reflection of my life experiences," she explains. "It reflects my struggles, fears, growth and it is often a great therapeutic tool for me. I am often writing what I'm processing in the moment."
Alongside the universal struggles that accompanied the pandemic, the creative industries ask a lot of those that want to succeed and Luce gives a clear image of the processes involved in making it as a singer/songwriter. "It can be challenging to find the balance in wearing all of the hats," the artist reveals of her beginnings in the music world. "So much of the work falls on the artist's shoulders." But Lydia Luce hasn't let any of this hold her back and is looking optimistically to the future.
"I still find it difficult at times to switch between the creative and business mind, but I am learning to balance both," Luce says. "I'm proud of where I am now and my growth personally and artistically."
On Memory: The Force of Nostalgia
The artist's lyrics inhabit a world wholly their own, with references to memory and nostalgia anchoring Luce's words to past experience. Ahead of the release of Florida Girl, Luce's home state, she spoke on how growing up influences and features in her work.
"Florida Girl is a song about a relationship with a childhood friend that I had growing up in Florida. We had a falling out and went our separate ways,' Lydia Luce explains. "I do channel memories from my past for many of my songs." The power of her particular creative outlet isn't lost on the artist, memory extending to the way she reflects on the power of music. "Songs capture different chapters of our lives. This can be true for the writer and the audience. We hear a song and it takes us back to a memory."
But despite the bittersweet sources of inspiration for the record, Florida Girl speaks to a growing sense of confidence moving toward the future. "The record is about accepting who you are. I am learning to love my whole self," Luce says, "and I want that for others too."
There's much to learn from the songwriter who's built such a solid footing for herself in a notoriously variable industry. Her strong sense of identity comes through consistently in her work and is only to be admired. This attitude extends further, into Lydia Luce's relationship to stardom. Curious if there was anything Luce would change, such as to rise more quickly or achieve some other marker on the road to success: would she alter anything on her journey so far? 'No,' Luce replied. 'I'm exactly where I'm meant to be.'
1. What's your top piece of advice for aspiring artists?
Follow your own intuition. Quiet the external noises, tendencies to compare and trust yourself.
2. What are your 3 favourite films?
Matilda, Amelie, and My Octopus Teacher.
3. Favourite song to cry to in the car?
"The Ocean" by Richard Hawley
4. Favourite childhood memory?
Boat trips with my family. We used to take my dad's boat from Ft. Lauderdale to the Bahamas and spend 20 something hours on the boat. I loved reading books at night in my bunk and jumping off the top of the boat into the water.
5. What would be your ideal day?
Swimming/snorkeling in the ocean and reading on the beach with my dog and partner.
6. If you could travel back in time, what one piece of advice would you give to your teenage self?
Do not compare yourself to others. You are running in your own lane and perfect the way you are.
7. Top non-essential you can't live without?
My dog Bobby.
8. Favourite snacks while writing?
Peanut butter cups.
9. Top 3 favourite albums?
Pleasure by Feist, Sky Blue Sky by Wilco, In Rainbows by Radiohead.
10.Where do you see yourself going next?