Sam Lyon is an acoustic folk-pop singer/songwriter from Winsford, Cheshire in England. She recently released her new EP called “The Bitter Taste Of Bliss”.
Peter Balkus: Not long ago you released your new EP called The Bitter Taste Of Bliss. The title is a bit sad, but the song on the album are rather happy songs. How you would explain that contrast?
Sam Lyon: I originally considered the title ‘Bliss’ for the EP, taken from the song ‘Human’. However, the EP is very much a tale about one relationship and the unfortunate path that it ended up going down, so although some of the songs describe the precious, happy moments we had, it is much more a portrayal of the decline of the relationship, and the bitterness that became of it. ‘The Bitter Taste of Bliss’ just seemed to fit and summed up the story behind the songs absolutely perfectly.
– Your songs are very folky but at the same time catchy and kinda pop. What is cool about folk music and what do you like about pop music?
I love folk music, I’ve always adored listening to singer-songwriters as I love trying to understand the stories and emotions behind their songs. However, I love how pop songs have that catchy element that leave you singing them for days. I always worry, though, that nowadays a lot of pop music is written just for commercial purposes, just to make money. There never seems to be any real emotion behind the lyrics. I want to be careful that I never reach that point, I love that I write all my own material, and I love it when people can relate to my words and can take them away with them. There’s no better feeling than inspiring someone with your music!
– You live in Cheshire. I’ve never been there. Is this part of England as beautiful as your songs?
I’m actually very grateful to have grown up here, it is a lovely place to live. I live right by the river, which is lovely to walk along in the summer! It’s right in the middle of Manchester and Liverpool so it’s also very good for shopping 😉 Oh, and gigging of course!
– It must be something in the water, cause I know few more talented singers from Cheshire. Is the place you live to “blame” for the sound of your songs?
It’s actually surprising how many talented musicians there are around here, especially in my little hometown. When I was recording my second EP, the studio engineer asked me about my hometown and was extremely surprised when I told them just how small it was, simply due to the fact that they’d heard of so many upcoming musicians that had all come from this same area. You expect it to be a huge place, with such a large number of incredible upcoming bands and artists, but it’s just a small town! It’s a marvellous place to grow up if you love music. Every pub and every venue has live music on, and the local promoters are some of the best I’ve ever met. Everyone is just so supportive of their local music scene that it encourages even the shyest and most humble players to get up on stage.
– One of my favourite songs of yours is “Playing With Fire”. I can’t understand how such young person like you can write such beautiful and moving and “mature” song. How it happened? Where did you score the magic to create this song?
Thank you very much! ‘Playing With Fire’ is also one of my own personal favourites I think. The inspiration for this song came from a relationship (as usual). Just as many people unfortunately do, I just started to feel differently about the person and my feelings began to change. I felt completely awful for it, because this person was the most incredible person in the world. Whenever I feel such strong emotion about something, I always write about it. However, with ‘Playing With Fire’, I decided to take a slightly different route than what I would’ve usually done, and I instead decided to write the song as though it were from his point of view. I really wanted to try and capture to pure emotion and passion as much as possible, and I think I managed to do that.
– I also have to ask about song “Tough Heart”. It sounds like the most personal song you ever written. Am I right? Can you tell us how the song was created?
I love writing personal songs, I always think they’re the ones that turn out the best. Just in the same way that I love listening to singer-songwriters’ most personal songs too, I guess. They’re always so insightful. I have dozens of extremely personal songs that I would never share with anybody, but they’re always so wonderful to play because you feel every bit of emotion that you did when you first wrote the song. They almost stay as fresh wounds, if you will. ‘Tough Heart’ was never a song I officially released, but I do like it, so maybe I’ll hold on to it for a future release. The song is about somebody that I absolutely adored, but they were in the army and were therefore away from home a lot of the time. It was a very difficult thing to go through, and it only made it tougher seeing everyone else together with their loved ones, but I’m proud of the fact that I didn’t ever give up on them.
– Listening to your song I always say to myself: Less is freaking more. Your voice, the guitar, violins in the background and that’s it. Do you feel comfortable in your dream folk “niche”, do you feel it’s where you belong to, or you still looking for another forms of musical expressions and we can expect to witness a completely different side of Sam Lyon in the future? Playing different genre, changing style etc.
I’m extremely torn with this actually. My first EP, ‘Promise Me’, is very stripped back and bare and acoustic, and I love that. I am an acoustic artist through-and-through, and I don’t ever want to lose my acoustic roots. However, music changes so rapidly, and sometimes it’s so much fun to experiment with different styles. My latest EP, ‘The Bitter Taste of Bliss’, is much more pop-inspired. Although I still have my acoustic roots throughout the record, I also wanted to create a bigger sound and have a full chorus of instruments and voices. Nothing feels better than hearing a little song that you wrote in your bedroom with your guitar become this huge, epic, musical work of art. I would like to experiment with my style and sounds, but I don’t ever want to stray from my acoustic roots, that is who I am as an artist.
– In “The Bitter Taste of Bliss: The Making Of” film on youtube you said that “you have a habit of writing sad songs”, and it sounded a bit like you want to write happy songs but you actually can’t. Then I realised that sad songs can make people happy in some way. What do you think about it?
I suppose you’re right. Sometimes although you’re writing about sad experiences, the songs themselves can often actually be quite uplifting. I do however have to admit that sad songs are much, much easier to write for me, and I’m not sure why. I feel like whenever I attempt to write a happy song, it always end up becoming very cheesy, whereas sad songs just come straight from the heart. Quoting one of my favourite authors, “that’s the thing about pain, it demands to be felt”, and for that reason I always find it easier to put my pain onto a page than I do my happiness. Maybe I just can never find the words to say when I’m happy!
– Your songs remind me Tori Amos music, and even Enya and Kate Bush. But… you tell us please your music inspiration and some names, artists, bands, your music obsessions/inspirations.
Thank you, it’s an honour to be compared to such artists! I think my first real desire to become a songwriter stemmed from my love for Avril Lavigne when I was about 7 years old. I’d always been into poetry from a very young age, but as soon I was introduced to Avril Lavigne, my poems began turning into songs, and as soon as I began high school I started taking guitar lessons. I then quickly fell in love with Taylor Swift, for the same reason. She was also a songwriter, and I just loved listening to way she wrote. She taught me how to write about love and loss, and most importantly, how to tell stories. Taylor Swift was probably my biggest influence and inspiration, even to this day.
– What are your plans for 2016 life wise and music wise?
I want to live my life the way that makes me happy. I’ve been through a great deal in the past 2 years that have taught me just how important life is and you shouldn’t take it for granted. Therefore, I’ve decided to do something I’ve always loved the idea of, and I’m going to travel. I’ll be travelling Europe, then working in South America, and then I’ll travel the UK in an attempt at being a full time musician too I think, that’s my next big musical goal!