Electro-pop artist Lydia Halloway has jumped to the top of our playlist with her energetic sound and honest lyrics.
In this interview with Close-up Culture, Lydia talks about the inspiration behind her latest single, her song-writing process, fighting back from cancer, and much more.
Q: Your single, ‘Lights Go Out’, is out now. How excited were you to follow up from the success of your debut single, ’Dancing To You’?
A: I was super excited, of course – but also a bit nervous! The night before it came out, I was so emotional that I puked and couldn’t sleep at all.
Q: The song references an ex who is still thinking of you — or at least that how you like to imagine it. Can you talk about the inspiration for this song and the emotions you wanted to capture?
A: Sure! This song is very much about the stories we tell ourselves as we try to recover from heartbreak. When you’re lying awake at night compulsively checking up on someone’s stories or re-reading texts, it’s a great band-aid to say: “well, I know deep down you’re not over me either.” So at first the song is about that confident, flippant emotion that feels so good. But then it transforms into something much more vulnerable by the end.
Q: How was your experience working with producer Simon Jacobsson (Atlantic, Warner Music Group, Armada, FNC Entertainment, and KPop Girl-group AOA)?
A: Simon is the best. I heard some of his work in a production feedback group I’m in on Facebook where he shared a work in progress and I had the beat in my head for days — I immediately knew I wanted to work with him.
Q: What do you typically look for in the people you collaborate with?
A: I usually try pick collaborators purely on sound. If I hear a song that blows me away, I look up who worked on it and try to get in touch. It doesn’t matter what your credits are or who you’re signed with — it’s all just about making music that can deliver on the emotion.
Q: You have very well crafted and honest lyrics. What is your writing process like?
A: Thank you! I tend to store ideas for lyrics and melodies on my phone throughout my day – on the train, at a stop light, waiting for a friend. Then when I have an hour aside, I’ll return and write as much as I can over acoustic guitar or piano before bringing it into Ableton or other production software.
So often a song comes in a burst with lyrics and melody very close to in place, but I also try to hold myself back and check back in on a song after a few days to revise and polish and add as much magic as I can.
My major rules for writing right now are to write as if I’m talking to one of my friends, and to write for people, not playlists or algorithms. I’m excited about the songs I’m working on right now because I’m digging really deep.
Q: When did you first start songwriting and working on your own music?
A: I wrote my first song around 13, it was about Lord of the Rings! Then I wrote a good deal in high school as I got better at guitar, but it was in more of an electronic R&B space.
I finally gave myself permission to write pop about two years ago or so and haven’t looked back since! Though I do miss my loop pedal.
Q: I understand you’ve gone through some hard times that have shaped your outlook and approach as an artist. Can you tell us more about your journey and what you’ve overcome?
A: I was diagnosed with cancer at 21 and had to have a surgery that would potentially take away my voice forever. My path to a complete recovery was long and hard and I wasn’t able to play much guitar or speak at all while I healed. So I downloaded Ableton and started producing beats and textures, and that’s how I started getting more and more into pop.
I also did a lot of writing at that time and notated my ideas as best I could. Most of what I’m releasing now comes from that period.
I’m still working my way to writing about it. Stay tuned.
Q: On a slightly random note, I saw you went to see Ari Aster’s ‘Midsommar’. What did you make of this unique horror film?
A: So, we actually went to go see Midsommar and ended up seeing the Wicker Man, which is a 70s film with a similar vibe. I’m a huge horror fan, and also a huge pagan Scandinavian fan, so they’re both right up my alley.
Q: Do you ever draw inspiration from film, other art forms or perhaps more random places?
A: Of course! I read a lot of poetry and novels and get a lot of inspiration there. Anyone working with the rhythms and shapes of words can be a source of inspiration for me.
Q: How do you hope to follow up ‘Lights Go Out’?
A: I have a new single called More of Me that I’m releasing in September, if all goes according to plan. I’m incredibly excited for it.