RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW LA ARTIST LYRA STAR
What made you decide that music is a passion for you?
I have always just loved music… maybe it has to do with growing up in Nashville and being surrounded by people that were constantly playing music. A lot of my high school friends were really amazing musicians. Music has the power to move people in such an incredible way, and I found it to be a great outlet for me to express my own emotions and thoughts.
What can you tell us about your musical history?
I started taking piano lessons when I was in the third grade, and I actually quit after a few years because I didn’t like playing classical music. Then I discovered Tori Amos, and I started sounding out songs that I liked by ear. This eventually led to creating my own compositions and going back to piano lessons. I also played the clarinet for 8 years and picked up guitar in high school and college. I started playing the ukulele 6 years ago as well.
Name your 3 favorite albums/bands?
Radiohead, Tori Amos, and Bjork are my 3 favorite artists
What was the first song you remember hearing that steered you onto a musical path? It was an entire album actually… “Little Earthquakes” by Tori Amos is what got me into exploring this path. One track in particular from that album that really resonated with me was “Silent All These Years.”
The music industry is one of the hardest industries in the world to progress in; How do you feel you are doing and what advice can you give up-and-coming artists?
I think I am doing ok, but I could probably be doing better… I live in a city full of successful artists that are actually making income from music, which I’m not currently doing, but they are also only doing music. I have a bunch of other passions, including teaching yoga and being a contortionist, so it’s hard for me to put all of my energy into the music alone. If you are an up and coming artist and your goal is to find success doing only music, I think you really have to go all in… this includes doing things like busking in the street, going to shows, networking with other artists, playing the right open mics and venues, and probably investing money into production, photo shoots, and PR so that you can sound good, look good, and be seen. You can definitely do all of this yourself as well (I’ve done my own PR a number of times), but be prepared to work… it’s a lot. Even just writing a press release is a skill in and of itself. Being an independent artist is extremely challenging, but if you believe in your craft and are willing to put in the time, it’s totally doable and worth it.
There is some debate about women not feeling safe at music gigs. Any thoughts on what we need to do to help make the industry safer for women?
I mean, I have never personally felt unsafe, but I’ve definitely been at gigs where I feel like it’s more of a “man’s world” so to speak. I’m not sure how to make the industry safer for women, but I think maybe one way would be to just have more females working as producers, mix engineers, etc… so there is more feminine energy on the technical side of things. We as women also just need to try to stand our ground and let our voices be heard as much as possible.
As you continue to develop as an artist and build a following on social media, how do you get new ears on your music? Any tips?
I’m not sure that all of the social media is the place for me to get ears on my music because a lot of my followers are more interested in the contortion and movement art element of my brand. One of the best platforms now for getting your songs heard is TikTok… if you can get clever/creative with your videos and have your song in the background, it can potentially go viral. That being said, a lot of the more popular songs on that app are mainstream pop oriented… my music is more cinematic and appropriate for film/TV.
I have definitely paid for playlisting in the past, which has definitely gained me more listeners on streaming platforms like Spotify… you can also do this on your own by seeking out and reaching out to playlist curators. It just takes a lot of extra time. As I said, if you are willing to put in the work and do the research, it’s possible to do everything on your own. I’m honestly still learning how to get more new ears on my music… working with PR companies has been helpful, but you have to be careful who you work with on that end as well.
Doing research and getting references/recommendations is always a good idea. Creating music videos is the best way that I’ve found for people interested in contortion to hear the songs I write as well.
What are your thoughts on Spotify’s monopoly on the music industry?
I’m not sure about that… it’s kind of crazy because I definitely use Spotify for everything, including making playlists for my yoga and pilates classes. There are so many other streaming platforms out there, but Spotify definitely seems to be the one people look to the most. It’s nice though because they even provide an app specifically for artists where you can track your streams, stats, etc. I’m not sure if other platforms have something like that…
Do you subscribe to any conspiracy theories?
No… I try to use my best judgement, do research, and formulate an educated opinion/viewpoint about everything as much as possible.
Any crazy impulse buys during the pandemic?
Haha… no, not really. I just bought a lot of plants.
What was your most memorable experience on stage, for good or bad?
One time, I was having a hard time hearing myself at a performance, and I was trying to ask the sound guy to turn up the sound in the monitor… nothing seemed to be working, and it was so frustrating not being able to hear myself. The whole vibe just felt “off.” The host of the night seemed really mad at me for asking for help and implied that it was unprofessional… it was really disheartening, but I had to let that one go and move on. One of my favorite moments was performing with a cellist at Genghis Cohen… the sound there was impeccable, the venue was small and intimate, and I just felt so empowered playing the piano, singing, and having those deep rich string undertones backing me up.
Tell us something about you that you think people would be surprised to hear?
I used to not be flexible at all… in fact, I could barely backbend in my first yoga class. I used to play ultimate frisbee very seriously and run 5-6 miles per day with no stretching.
What makes you stand out as an artist?
Being a singer/songwriter and a contortionist is a pretty unique thing, and that is what sets me apart from others.
Congrats on your release of “Scars!” What can you tell us about the experience thus far?
So far, it has been a dream… I love this song so much, and the reviews thus far have been exactly what I’d hoped for as far as describing the song and what it does for the listener. It has already been placed on 20 plus playlists, and I’m working with a great PR rep that has a solid team helping to get my music out there.
Talk me through your thought process while writing “Scars.”
I initially wrote this song during the pandemic when all of the fires were happening… things were looking pretty bleak, but I also had faith that we were all going to come out of this stronger and more self-aware. The opening lyric line came first…. I was just sitting at my keyboard messing with a chord progression, and the words just started to unfold. This is usually what happens to me when I write… the songs just unfold naturally. I will also go through very large chunks of time where I’m not writing at all. I never force the process. For this song, I was just thinking about how humans are all united by the fact that we have emotional and physical scars from all of our life experiences… but this is what makes us unique and beautiful. When we come together and open our hearts, we can really burn bright and create so much light and beauty from darkness.
What was the recording process like?
I was very excited to develop this track with a deep, full sound and lots of vocal harmonies…. I remember when I sat down with the producer, he had an idea to do a reverse guitar element at the beginning that already gave it such a beautiful vibe. Sam Garfield and I have been working together since 2019, and this track is one of my favorites that we’ve ever done. He started to layer other atmospheric elements as well as these really lush drums that were a perfect backdrop for when we recorded the vocal harmonies, which was my favorite part. He just sets up the vocal mic and tells me to see what I’ve got… we almost never have a plan. He just lets me sing different parts with the main vocals, and he picked out the gems from there. The resulting product is just so gorgeous… I couldn’t be more grateful to work with someone that has such a good ear for this kind of thing.
What was the biggest learning curve in writing this new tune?
This was the first track on the EP, and I think it really set the tone for the rest of the songs that we would choose and how they would sound in order to create a cohesive body of work. I think I really discovered how much I enjoy the creating process… being in the studio and making a song into something fully developed rather than just me, my voice, and a piano. Music production provides you with so many options and directions that you can go with any track, and this one could have taken more of a pop turn for sure, but I’m really glad we chose to stick with my brand of electronic indie folk/pop because the results are so cinematic, sweeping, and beautiful. As an artist, I’m more interested in putting the songs out there and creating music videos that allow me to express myself through movement with my songs as the catalyst for that.
Would you change anything now that it’s finished?
Honestly, no… I think it’s one of the most powerful, beautiful songs that I’ve released so far.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
I’m just really grateful to everyone that listens to my music. As an independent artist, it can be really challenging to have your voice heard… fans, followers, and supporters are everything. I hope that this song resonates with everyone in some way, shape, or form and reminds people that there is so much beauty and light that can come from darkness.