INTERVIEW: LIIYO

1. Hi Liiyo, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hello and thank you so much for having me! It’s exciting to be featured in VENTS! I have been very well thank you; it’s been a very productive year, despite being constantly thrown in and out of lockdown, but I haven’t let that stop me!

2. Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Overwhelmed”?

Of course! Overwhelmed came about after I questioned my Instagram followers about what kind of song they wanted me to release next. I’ve done a few upbeat tracks so far so gave an option of another, or a ballad, and the majority voted that they wanted to hear a ballad. So I decided to work with the super talented Will Henderson, who produced the amazing track, and started working on the lyrics. It’s a departure from what I would usually do but was a chance for me to show a much more vulnerable side to me which I haven’t ever really had the chance to do before. 

3. Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

It wasn’t a particular event but more of an overall energy that 2020 has had that inspired me to write. I think I am one of many that has suffered with some form of severe anxiety this year; it’s all around us at the moment with everything that is going on in the world. I have genuinely had moments this year where I have felt completely overwhelmed by the changes that have affected us all and seeing what myself, and so many others, have gone through mentally this year gave me a starting point for the lyrics of the song. Being put into two national lockdowns and not being able to see my family for such a vast amount of time allowed me put some of those feelings into the lyrics. I wanted to reflect the constant battle of having to tell yourself that everything is going to be OK even when it feels like the world is falling around you. I wanted a positive spin but remaining as honest as possible about what that feels like to those of us that have felt anxiety. 

4. How was the recording and writing process?

It was honestly such a blast; I don’t think I have ever had a melody come to my mind so quickly. I usually take a few days to really nail down a melody for a song but this one was almost instant. It felt like everything completely glued together, which is probably a result of it being about something so particular to my own experiences, and it just meant that I could put more passion into the song vocally. In terms of recording, I actually recorded it back in early October and it was such an enlightening experience. The studio is the place for singers to test and trial different elements of a song, be it ad libs or even harmonies, but I just felt a sense of “to hell with it” while in the studio and freestyled all of the vocals you hear behind the main vocal. All were completely improvised on the spot and it was because I was just feeling it. It was really freeing being able to just let go and not overthink things and the process of making Overwhelmed has really been a special time for me for that reason. 

5. What role does London play in your music?

London plays a really pivotal role in my music. One of the reasons that I moved to London from my hometown of Huddersfield was because of the diversity that it offers. There are no two people, no two venues and no two artists that are the same. There is something different in everything you see and hear and it has opened my eyes up to so many different ways of life. I have met people from all over the world that have shared stories with me about their backgrounds and I like to think it has helped to enrich my own way of life. London offers so much variation and I like to think that has bled into my music a little. It’s allowed me the scope to try different things with each single; none of my songs that I have released so far sound the same, though they do sound like they could be on the same album, and I think a large part of that is reflected by the life I lead in London. It’s just the best city in the world! (My hometown is in my heart though!)

6. How has the lockdown influenced your writing?

Lockdown has helped my writing in two ways. The first is that I have had much more time to really work on my craft and figure out what I do and do not like when it comes to melodies and lyrical content. I’ve always had to struggle to find time balancing my music career alongside other responsibilities in life but lockdown allowed me a chance to take a breath, step back and reassess. I think being able to write such a high volume of songs during that period has helped me gain a better ear for things as well as learning the do’s and don’t of writing. The other thing is that it has also given me time to listen to much more music. Music has always been a key part of my day; everywhere I go, my headphones are with me but I really had a chance to look and listen to what other artists have been doing and learn and develop that way. I have been able to write to other genre’s and i like to think that it has made me a stronger writer!

7. What lead you to go for a KPOP sorta direction?

If you asked anyone who knows me what my favourite genre of music was, they would tell you KPOP. I have been the biggest fan of KPOP music for nearly ten years and I think it has helped to shape me into the artist I am today. I don’t think I would be authentically me if I didn’t incorporate it into my overall music or branding in some regards. It’s predominantly what I listen to (99.9% of my music is KPOP) and I find the KPOP industry to be fascinating. The level of vocal and performance skill that those Idols possess blows my mind and I try to work towards having the stage presence that they have! I almost signed a trainee contract with one of the top KPOP companies a few years back which sadly got canned when they decided to move in another direction that didn’t include UK based singers and it just made me all that more hungry to involve the KPOP aspect in my own material more. Having been in two pop groups that were KPOP inspired helped to shape my sound today though I think my music is much more mature now. I’m massively inspired by the likes of EXO, Black Pink, Taemin, Monsta X and so many more! i could talk about this topic for years! 

8. Does the new single mean we can expect a new material – how’s that coming along?

Absolutely! I have a couple more singles that I am lining up for releases, the first being at the end of January or beginning of February and the other being the very beginning of March! The first, called “Say It Again”, will show me going back to that electro pop sound that many people have come to know me for but the second, called “Snake Skin” will show a much darker, rockier side to me that I think will push me past my comfort zone. That one may even be featuring a music video complete with full choreography… 

9. Any tentative release date or title in mind?

I have a few more things lined up that I am figuring dates out for. I definitely want to focus on releasing much more frequent content in the spring as I think winter time is best served developing your content for the following half of the year but I think I will be releasing my first three singles, the two upcoming ones, and a couple more as part of an upcoming E.P release that I am planning to be out mid 2021. There is a good few singles left under the belt before that happens though! 

10. What else is happening next in LIIYO’ world?

I have so much on my plate right now and it is so exciting! I am currently looking for management to help me really take that step forward but I have a few more collaborations coming up that I am very excited about, one being with a Hong Kong based singer. That’s all under wraps until the song has been polished up and been declared as good to go! I also have a few cover songs in the works as well as continuing to develop my YouTube show called “LIIYO’s LISTS” where I countdown my top ten songs of the week! I also am currently planning a showcase performance of all of my material for next year; I am just waiting for venues to be reopened before that can go ahead but I can guarantee that it will be a show and a half featuring some very special guests. It’s literally all go, go, go in camp LIIYO but I wouldn’t have it any other way! 

Listeb to Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/track/0jDTn4A7fJb5afh0qk0Fgg?si=tDq5AVYeS5yHBovHUvnhqQ

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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