Jun 6, 2013

Get To Know: Amy Lyon

WORDS: Alex Caslano

There’s no underestimating a powerful vocal. From Julie McKnight on Kings Of Tomorrow to Robin S on ‘Show Me Love’, the right lyrics sung by the right person can make a song classic. How many times have you been in a club and witnessed a whole dancefloor unite as one? San Soda’s version of FCL’s 2013 anthem ‘It’s You’, is a perfect example. Almost entirely accapella, this is a track which has ended countless DJ sets over the last year or so, based purely on the emotion Lady Linn sings about. And it’s perhaps this heartfelt passion and emotional drive which attracted us to Glasgow-based songwriter, Amy Lyon.

Having worked with local producers such as Barrientos, This Is I and Fall, her ability to envelop a song with sentiment has made her one of Glasgow’s most sought after vocalists and someone who is now becoming recognised far beyond the Dear Green Place. Learning to play the saxophone and piano from the age of 10, it was fairly obvious that Amy was someone with engrained musical talent, and after finding her voice through scribbled lyrics and some truly exceptional self-productions, it wasn’t long before she was working on songs which would appeal more to the club.

Citing influences ranging from Portishead to Bonobo, Amy has a great understanding of the relationship between strong vocals and electronic music, with her own track ‘I’m Falling’ being a perfect example. Taking the passion and romance of someone like Aretha Franklin and marrying it to her own soul-searing beats, she is able to connect on completely different level, balanced beautifully between traditional songwriting and the incredible freedom of electronic music production. But it’s not just delicate soundscapes which interest Amy. Having recently collaborated with Zoo Look on Deep House jam ‘Over Me’, it’s clear she has an ear for the club too. With a breathtaking collaboration with the aforementioned Barrientos incoming on Glasgow Underground and a recent investment in a pair of decks, it’s likely you’ll be hearing a lot more from Amy in the coming months, whether that be on wax or spinning it...

Check out some of Amy’s collaborations and originals below as well as an interview in which we talk home production, the creative process and plans for the future:

Synth: So I guess we wanted to start with how you originally got into singing and how you found your voice? Were you playing any instruments first or have you always been interested in vocals?

Amy: When I first got into music properly singing wasn't the first thing I thought of - from the age of 10 I started learning to play the saxophone and later the piano. Songwriting was where I found my voice and originally I would just sing in my productions so others could hear the direction of my lyrics. People started commenting on my tone however, and I realised there was perhaps more than just songwriting and saxophone for me.

Synth: Although you also write acoustic and soul songs, it seems like the majority of your recent recordings are based on electronic foundations. When did you start to gravitate to electronic music and who would you describe as influences?

Amy: I've always been interested in electronic music, but in the past couple years I've been getting more involved because of the vocal collaborations. My influences include older names such as Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Etta James and Otis Redding, but also more recent artists such as Andreya Triana, Submotion Orchestra, Air, Amy Winehouse, Fink, Bonobo and Portishead - although a lot of those aren't electronic music influences. I'm still writing and performing my acoustic and soul songs, I’ve just not had a lot of time to get any recorded yet - watch this space though!

Synth: You’ve featured on a lot of our favourite releases so far this year including a very special hook up with Zoo Look. Can you tell us a little about how these collaborations take shape and the journey leading up to the final product?

Amy: Working with Zoo Look was a great experience. They were the first producers I worked with outside of Glasgow and they were so laid back and welcoming that it made things a lot easier -  I'm very happy with the outcome. Usually producers will already have a track they have been working on and already have a certain style of vocalist they are looking for. Some producers will send me the track along with a reference with the ideas and lyrics they are looking for, others let me do my own thing and give me little or no boundaries. I don't have any preference to having boundaries or not, sometimes it helps to have a little motivation. The time between sending the vocals and hearing the final product is probably the most exciting yet frustrating part of the process. Hearing the finished track is the reason I keep collaborating, you get a rush of adrenaline and motivation from hearing how you became the last piece of that puzzle they were looking for and usually when I get the final track back it sounds better than I could have ever imagined.

Amy's home studio: creative hotspot

Synth: You’ve really got a glowing reputation on the Glasgow scene at the moment and you’ve worked with a lot of local artists, do you find there’s a lot of inspiration to be found at home and who would you identify as your favourite people to work with?

Amy: Well I definitely wouldn't be working with the people I am now without the local producers - This Is I especially, he gave me the push I needed and thanks are definitely in order. I couldn't possibly say who my favourites are to work with because they all have such different styles, it's been an absolute pleasure to work with all of them.

Synth: We’re listening to ‘I’m Falling’ at the moment which is just beautiful, how did you find your way into making your own music and what programs/software do you use? Is it a home set up?

Amy: Thanks very much! Yeah I've been producing for a few years now. I first started when I was at school, spending my lunchtimes in the music department messing around with Cubase. This moved onto producing instrumental tracks in my bedroom and that's when the songwriting started. I'm still producing at home but it's not where my passion lies, it's more a way of finding direction for my songs. At the moment I use Logic with a midi interface, small midi keyboard and a Rode NT1-A microphone. It's a pretty basic set-up but it does the job.

Synth: Finally, it seems like things are really starting to pick up for you now and we’re of course extremely excited to get our hands on the new Barrientos single you feature on. What have you got in the diary over the coming months and how do you see things progressing from here?

Amy: Oh yes I'm pretty excited about that release, Barrientos is a great producer to work with! I've got another release with Krios coming soon on Philipp Ort's label, really looking forward to letting you hear that one. Got several tracks in the pipeline and can't give too much away at the moment, but I’m working on something with local talent Atlus who previously remixed 'I'm Falling' - boys' got skills! As well as the collaborations, I’m working on more of my own music and looking to put a band together, record new material and continue doing gigs around Glasgow. I've also recently started learning to mix so you might see a wee vinyl mix from me in the next few months!

Amy’s most recent collaboration with Mykel Haze & Marco Darko is out now on Mother Recordings. She plays MacSorley’s Music Bar in Glasgow tonight.

Amy Lyon on Soundcloud
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