Lydia Bennett Interview

Lydia Bennett took the time to chat with us about her music and inspirations. Lydia will be performing songs from her debut album ‘Fossil’ on the evening of Saturday 15th of June in Alnmouth. Click on the QR code to find out more.

Do you come from a musical family? If not, where does your interest in singing and song-writing come from?

I would say yes. I have a big family of blood and non-blood relatives around the world and music definitely plays a part in threading us together. Singing has always been very central to my immediate family – my Mum, Dad and Grandads always sang to me or whistled away, and my Uncle Alex always included a song in any story. I grew up going to see my sister and Godbrother sing in theatre and jazz concerts – I really looked up to them but I was too afraid to sing publicly myself. When we moved to New Zealand I was incredibly lucky to land in a High School where I met lovely musical friends and amazing teachers who really encouraged me in my singing, songwriting and confidence. I’ll be forever grateful to these teachers who gifted me something that to this day I don’t know what I’d do without.

Do you have any specific musical influences; for instance, singers or song-writers that have made a deep impression on you?

I think every song, musician, or overheard conversation subconsciously has some sort of influence. I’ve always been captivated by powerful voices. I used to plead for my parents to turn Eva Cassidy off when I was a kid – now I realise it was because her voice impacted me so much. Aretha Franklin and Nina Simone were also on repeat. James Blake’s voice has also always haunted me. Honest warm voices are really powerful to me.

What usually inspires you to write a song?

Most often it’s confusion – songwriting is an essential problem solving tool for me. Something that I have to do in order to untangle contradicting emotions or situations, and get my head around broken systems creating global crises that I have limited power to change. Writing songs really helps me come to my own kind of peace, clarity and occasionally, solutions.

Happy times with people I love, being in nature, and just experiencing special moments often turn into melodies and lyrics too.

How do you usually go about writing a song?

It’s quite different every time. I often write melodies unintentionally when I walk and then I might write lyrics days, weeks, months later, once I realise what that melody was really about. Sometimes I’ll sit down with a guitar or piano and I’ll write everything at once. Other times I’ll write a poem to try and make sense of something, which I magically realise fits a melody I wrote while walking 6 months ago! Canoe was written in two different toilet cubicles…so it really does vary. So far I’ve written alone, and then developed the songs with the band. I’m curious to explore writing more collaboratively in the future. 

Why have you chosen ‘Fossil’ as the title of your debut album?

I wrote the bones of the song Fossil in the hills and lakes near Ullswater in an April heatwave. I finished the song in a place very close to my heart – the home of Tom’s (the guitarist in the band) grandparents, in the countryside in France, in a year where the heat was so immense that the plants and crops were suffering. 

Writing the song made me realise that we carry traces of our pasts, which shape and mould us, just like fossils. And as we keep on, we have to work to protect our core essence, in the same way that we need to protect our environment. My dearly loved geology friends will be twitching, but the symbol is there. Fossil felt like it summed up overarching themes of the album – healing, self preservation, and belonging wrapped up in nature.

Is there a favourite song for you on this album or one that you feel is a stand-out track?

Lullajim. I wrote this song 8 years ago for my manager at the time who had just had his first child, Jimmy! I began to realise this song was also something I really needed to hear during a period of transition – a reminder that colour would return. I actually made an initial recording of Lullajim just before I left New Zealand with dear friends of mine, Justin and Sammy, at their family house in the aptly named Greytown, on a wintery weekend. It was a really special time. It has been lovely to rearrange this song with the band so many years on and be reminded of the power of patience, gentleness, and dreams. We recorded it on a sleepy and wintery Sunday morning. It feels somehow like I’ve closed a loop with this one. 

What sort of people do you imagine will most appreciate the songs on Fossil, who will really get your musical style and what you’re saying on this album?

I hope there’s moments throughout the album for anyone to connect to in their own way. Perhaps for when minds get muddled, when belonging is being questioned, or when in need of hearing a moment of honesty and kindness. 

How do you feel about performing these new songs in public for the first time?

All of the emotions! Some of these songs started out 9 years ago. It feels like it has been a long time coming and yet exactly the right time. I feel particularly privileged to be performing these songs with very close friends of mine – we’ve journeyed and navigated the years together and that makes this launch even more special. 

Why have you chosen to release your debut album at the Alnmouth Arts Festival?

Alnmouth has always held a very special place for my family and I. Growing up we spent a lot of time on Alnmouth beach – swimming in the summer and wrapped up often for snowy Christmas Eve walks! 

Some people talk about ‘thin places’ – a place where it feels there is no barrier between you and God (whatever you perceive God to be). I don’t consider myself religious, but Alnmouth is a ‘thin’ place for me. 

One of my happiest moments last year was playing at the Alnmouth Arts Festival in a bubble of warmth, smiles and hugs from the lovely community. I have to mention Martin Shingler and Caroline Mitchell who have been such constant beacons of encouragement throughout the completion of this album. 

It was only right to do my first album launch in the arms of Alnmouth.