It is early summer and I am late for an interview with 24 year old singer Lydia Baylis. All flustered and worried that the reserved time at the offices I have booked has been missed - I am relieved to find that Lydia has already arrived and made herself at home in the designated room. Her blue eyes and relaxed smile immediately show that I am forgiven for leaving her in Chiswick all alone for 20 minutes. With flowing blonde hair and wonderfully throaty, just the right side of posh, voice, Lydia is an entrancing individual. After some waffling about my terrible sat-nav skills, the chat thankfully soon turns to her embryonic music career.
At 24 I ask Lydia where she has been - and why it is only now that she is going full throttle to launch her career.
"I had to find myself creatively. It has been a journey, a progression. I felt I needed to take the time to get there. Physically as well as mentally. My voice itself for example - I started having singing lessons and figuring out how I wanted to sound. The songs that I wrote when I was 18 - were a lot more folky. But I have always been drawn to a darker, electronic sound. A lot of it (the wait) was down to finding the right producer. You have to have a conversation and dialogue going on about what you want to sound like."
She ended up working with Richard Cardwell as a co-writer and then producer, as well as Owen Parker.
"They are both very interesting musicians - and they saw very early on the kind of thing I wanted from it. They gave me the confidence to explore, musically and lyrically. They saw that I wanted to be more than a blonde girl with a guitar. For example, I will always now use an electric guitar rather than acoustic when on stage. They breathed a bit of imagination into it."
Lydia is candid about her development and how she wants to be more than the standard singer songwriter penning songs about relationships.
"I have always been drawn towards thematic and darker music - so lots of the lyrics have that feel to them. But it is completely down to the individual to think what they want to about a song. Mirrors (her first single) could be a dream, could be about obsession, or could be about madness. That's why I am calling the album A Darker Trace. It started when I started reading more gothic novels and one of the songs is about Virginia Woolf, and how tragic her life was. So there's a lot of those kind of themes that I am drawn to."
Mirrors, reviewed here on Music News, is a brooding single that has cinematic feel.
"We spent a long time listening to different guitar sounds, and we wanted Mirrors to have this water theme - like the sound of ripples."
Away from the first single Mirrors, an early EP also features an intriguing take on Black's Wonderful Life.
"I remembered the song from my parents playing it - because they loved it. But it was on reading the lyrics that I decided I wanted to cover it because it meant to me something completely different to how I had imagined before. The lyrics are desperately sad in the verse but the overarching feel is of happiness in the chorus. Because it was from before I was born, I felt I could treat it differently. I liked the fact is was sung by a man too and I wanted to try and make it my own. It's a beautiful song. I hope we have done it justice."
So can we expect more cover versions?
"Joni Mitchell is an influence but like Fleetwood Mac - another band I love - it's a no go area. I would have to steer clear of them to be honest. I would not want to stamp my mark as a cover version artist anyway."
It is fascinating discussing music with Lydia, she has an intense and gently confident attitude that hints at someone determined to get where she wants to. She is clearly open to learning.
"I love watching live music - and every time I watch someone on stage, I take away an incredible lot about stage craft. I went to see Wolf Alice recently. They have an amazing female singer and nothing was going right for them - sound problems, instrument issues. But they handled it brilliantly and I thought I will take this away from tonight and remember it, if I ever encounter the same problems."
With that we leave the discussion for now - and I promise not to be late for our next conversation. My terrible time keeping has probably left a bad impression on Lydia. She though has left me with the distinct impression that we are about to see a lot more of her.
Hear more of the interview here:
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