The Rochestown singer is happy to showcase her talents at her home city’s industry event, writes Ed Power.
WHAT a whirlwind 12 months it has been for Cork solo artist Lyra.
She electrified the internet when her song, ‘Emerald’, featured on cult TV show Teen Wolf and caused a minor sensation performing the same track on RTÉ’s Dancing With The Stars.
This week the London-based singer returns to her home town to headline a showcase of new Leeside talent ‘curated’ by the Cyprus Avenue venue as part of the Music Cork industry event.
In between all that, she is bunkered down in a recording studio working on material. If the 24-year-old considers any of this overwhelming she doesn’t let it show.
“I try to focus on the songs and keep my mind out of the business side of things,” she says.
“Of course every so often you get a response from someone and you go ‘wow – that’s really cool and amazing’. Teen Wolf got in contact and I assumed they wanted to use ‘Emerald’ for a really small scene.
“It turned out to be very prominent. Suddenly I was getting loads of emails wondering when I was coming to America.”
Lyra isn’t coy about her debt to singers such as Florence and the Machine and Kate Bush.
The magic ingredient is her distinctive Celtic style, which has echoes of Enya and The Cranberries’ Dolores O’Riordan.
“Some artists get tetchy being compared to people. But the ones I’ve been compared to are fantastic. To be put in the same sentence as Kate Bush and Enya — how could I complain?”
Singing in a Cork accent wasn’t a calculated strategy. It evolved over time — and with some heartache.
“When I first came to London, I was often asked to re-sing stuff,” she says.
“People couldn’t understand what I saw saying. That made me really unhappy — I would get so nervous in the studio. I panicked and felt really insecure about my voice.”
She ultimately concluded it was better to be true to who she was than to present an ersatz version of herself, simply to please strangers.
“It got to the point where I was being asked to vocalise in a certain style and I couldn’t do it. It sounded awful. So I decided I would sing in a way that felt natural to me. I’ve never regretted it.”
Not a natural attention seeker, she has had her nerve-wracking moments.
Her first Cork gig, at Cyprus Avenue, was terrifying (who wouldn’t be filled with nerves performing in front of family and friends?).
As was her appearance on Dancing With The Stars, for which she belted out ‘Emerald’ as two dancers pirouetted in the foreground.
“In rehearsals I was so distracted by the dancing,” she laughs. “I kept looking over at them and realising that I had to get it together and focus on my voice. It was scary. I normally play with the two boys in my band. But was just me.”
Though yet to sign a record deal — there has of course been plenty of interest — Lyra comes across as well versed in the demands of the business.
In particular, she is keen to maintain an air of mystery— which is why she won’t reveal her second name and is reluctant to delve into her Cork background, beyond revealing her mother lives in Rochestown, in the south of the city, and that she started out singing in church.
“Lyra is my name,” she says.
“I was delighted to be born with that as one of my birth-names. Everything else, I want to keep under wraps. Once you start telling people everything the mystique vanishes. My friends know me — I want everyone else to know me for my music.”
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