I am Ruth Lyon – a singer, songwriter, composer, advocate and fashion designer and I always strive to put honesty front and centre of my work.
I call my genre ‘baroque-pop’ after my biggest idols, Fiona Apple, Aldous Harding and Regina Spektor and it’s about fusing observational lyricism, classical inflections with a nod to the complete absurdity of life.
I have just released my debut EP Nothing’s Perfect – It comes from a line in one of the singles “Fast Food”, which is the most upbeat track. The song is about our collective time spent at home embracing take-away every night, drinking too much wine and bingeing Netflix.
This rejection of perfection is a mantra that I tend to live by and although it might sound a bit like giving up, it’s the opposite! For me it’s a powerful statement and a hopeful one. This EP has been a long time in the making so… I grew up on the North Yorkshire Moors (North of England), scrambling around the countryside.
Growing up with nature as the only source of entertainment was magic for me and gave me a vast sense of adventure, independence mixed with a melancholia peculiar to the landscape of the Moors. The single “Paper Aeroplane” is really about my childhood and searching for that naive sense of freedom that I grew up with.
I moved to Newcastle Upon Tyne to study fashion design, discovering and becoming totally inspired by the Japanese designers Miyake, Kawakubo, and Yamamoto; who celebrate beauty in imperfection and asymmetry. Through learning about this ethos and channelling this into my work both in music and aesthetically, I have made a huge leap in self-acceptance.
For me, fashion and music go hand in hand as major forms of personal expression and I like to marry the two into my work. It’s why I always co-direct my videos making all the outfits and looks which elevate the themes in the music, exploring the shapes and silhouettes of the seated figure.
I am still figuring out my sound but it’s been a great process writing and recording the first record full of experimentation and energy. There are hints of blues, indie and folk across the EP and I think I just picked my favourite genres and mashed them up.
It’s hard to define exactly what box the record fits into in terms of style but I think that’s what a debut EP is for, to figure stuff out and it certainly keeps the creative side interesting.
I am not sure if we’re allowed favourites but the lead single “Motormouth” is mine (don’t tell the others). It was mostly recorded and self-produced in my home studio aka the spare room with my partner and self-taught engineer, Conrad. The song is about a friend crush, being over enthusiastic and ultimately ending up feeling like a bit of a freak.
It is cringe to always wear my heart on my sleeve and it makes me more vulnerable but I also think it’s a really great thing about my personality that I don’t want to lose. So much time is taken up presenting a totally veneered version of reality and sometimes that’s important to keep stuff to yourself but if that’s all that is ever presented on the outside it is inevitable that the lack of realness is going to mess up the inside.
I like the fact that the song is fun in parts and has a punchy groove but has these darker elements coming up to the surface and I really tried to bring that out in the video.
I changed my name this year to my mum’s family name, Lyon, with its connection to the Celtic coastlines of West Scotland and it really helped, seeing this debut release as the beginning of something personal, deeper than myself.
Co-producing with Rhiannon Mair (Laura Marling, LUNA) and Cameron Craig (Amy Winehouse, Katie Melua), I have explored different sides of myself and most of the EP was produced remotely via zoom.
Although it’s not how I wanted my first EP to go as I had planned to be in a studio interacting face to face with other creatives and easily bouncing ideas back and forth, I have quite liked the process with so much time and space to reflect on every little step.
I love challenges and situations that force us to adapt and be flexible as it can create some interesting creative problems in the way we work so that’s actually been a surprisingly good thing about this weird time we’ve just lived through.
For instance, I began taking my portable recording gear everywhere I went to find pockets of time to record. The vocals for “Motormouth” were actually recorded laid in bed in a cottage with no electricity in a remote part of Devon this summer – all I had was the very limited charge on my laptop to power the whole thing.
I only ever imagined that they’d be guides but when put against the studio vocals, we all just preferred the raw energy of those takes. They are certainly not perfect, recorded on the cheapest gear you can find but it is those magic, happy accidents that fuel what I do and it’s essentially how I see life.
Listen to Nothing’s Perfect below and stream it everywhere else here.