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Interviews, Music

Interview: Toronto Synthpop Songstress Lyon on Reinventing Love Songs and Becoming Comfortable in Her Own Skin

By: Krista Hessey –

Heartbreak and music have always been intertwined. Emotions of lust, loss and unrequited love have always had a penchant for melodies. And if that were not true, Taylor Swift would not be famous, Nicholas Sparks’ movies would not have soundtracks and we would all wallow in our beds morefrequently and think, “no one gets me.”

Lovelorn laments are nothing new to the music industry but Lauren Malyon, better known by her musical persona Lyon, has taken the poppy love song and added a no-bullshit policy. The Toronto-based singer-songwriter channels her emotions of heartbreak and resilience, filtered by a strong sense of reality to create her debut Indian Summer EP.  Malyon’s soft, reverie-inducing voice paired with fleeting synth-pop melodies creates the soundtrack to a nostalgic daydream.

In the afternoon leading up to her Toronto performance at The Garrison, Lyon sat down with us to discuss how she was able to reinvent stereotypical love songs, her upcoming tour with Wake Owl and becoming comfortable in her own skin.

What emotions were you feeling leading up to the day the EP was released?

I was so excited to finally share it with everybody because even my family didn’t really understand what it meant. I think I was just excited to be like ‘Look!’ this actually does exist. I’ve had all these people around me, supporting me, for five years or more and there are always these little exciting things but it often settles down but this release is different! It was very exciting when Black Box finally did the release on their website announcing the signing and the EP and everything. I think the biggest thing though when we did the video. People tend to listen with their eyes. It was so much fun.

Describe your process of channeling emotions, in this case heartbreak, into music. What difficulties did you face as a writer and musician?

It was a pretty natural process I think. I got my feelings out on paper first, and I think it is important not to over edit yourself at that point, which is easy to do. I just turned that off and got it out in raw form. Then, what really helped was when I started recording Japeth Maw and I would get together and drink wine and talk. You know, be a girl. He is like my therapist. We would talk about everything. He helped me capture the most important aspects of what I had written. That collaboration helps take it from just a page in your diary to something that is art.

Feedback definitely helps maintain a theme, without getting too caught up in it all.

I didn’t want to write the same heartbreak song over and over, so he helped me cover different aspects of what I was feeling. For example, when I started singing “Happy Alone” I said, “we can honestly scrap this, because I feel like we’ve already sung about this.” He said, “No, we can always turn it into something.” Then we turned this heartbreak story into this a story about how we can be happy alone.

Since a very specific time in your life inspired this EP.  How do you think your music will evolve in future years?

I see it as a sequel; I see it as a part two. Before it was very much about the heartache, now I see it as the adventure begins.  Now I’m getting my bearings, and am getting more confident. One of my main themes is dealing with change because I am in my mid-twenties and I’m figuring stuff out and it’s kind of crazy not to get attached to things because anything can happen. It is sort of universal truth I guess, but the most constant thing you can count on in life is change and then my head explodes.

“It is one thing to dream and another to get on stage in capital cities, in front of all these people.” 

The freedom to change in your twenties is imperative.

Yeah, I am getting more comfortable with that and becoming more comfortable in my own skin. You have to try to believe that you can do it once youhave the opportunity to.  It is one thing to dream and another to get on stage in capital cities, in front of all these people. Its one thing to know that’s what I want and another to actually do it.

You have done multiple ‘80s covers, what made you fall in love with music from that era?

I think I just attach to a lot of the melodies to the ones that have stuck with us over time. The synth sounds are really appealing to me and I grew up playing violin as my first instrument so I think I consider myself to be a melody person. I am always humming! I have to work to become more poetic, whereas melodies come easily to me.

How was working with Wolf Saga on Lorde’s “Team” cover, and how did it feel to hit 34,000 views? One person even commented that it was “way better than the original.”

We were laughing; we were just happy. Wolf Saga is amazing and I just want to work with him more. Then we were just like, “why don’t we work on amixtape!”

When do you expect that to be coming out?

I don’t know, probably sometime after I come back [from touring].

What are you most looking forward to going on this national tour with Wake Owl?

The whole adventure of it; I haven’t done it before. The whole thing is overwhelmingly awesome. There are so many unknowns, and I just trust we will figure it out.

What else do you have planned for this year?

For my team and I our top priority is making a full album. We have already started but it has had to be put on hold.

“Some electronic music can kind of become a bit robotic and lose some of the soul.”

With so many synth pop acts already in existence, why should people care about you and your music?

I think it is very genuine and honest and real. Some electronic music can kind of become a bit robotic and lose some of the soul. I hope to keep the human element and just bring emotional connection to it. I think what separates me is that I don’t have the loudest voice; I am not a Mariah Carey singer in any way. So my voice has more character and subtlety, and I embrace that. I also get to incorporate violin into my set since it has always been my first love, and I don’t think you see that all the time in other synth projects.

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