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Fan-tastic Cork singer Lyra on fame, fashion and bouncing back from heartbreak

Electro-pop queen Lyra talks fame, fashion, bouncing back from heartache and her plan to give it socks during St Patrick’s Festival

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Looking her true-star self in a stand-out ensemble

Looking her true-star self in a stand-out ensemble

Looking her true-star self in a stand-out ensemble

WERE it not for lockdown, Lyra would surely have the world at the feet of her thigh-high PVC boots by now.

The Cork singer was poised to go stratospheric just as the plug was pulled on live gigs back in 2019.

Now the 28-year-old is back in orbit, and shining even brighter than before, with nothing short of global domination on her vision board for 2022.

“I was sickened,” she recalls of the sudden halt to her rising star. “A lot of things went on hold – obviously that was the least of our troubles in terms of what we were all going through.

“I had just kind of built up that momentum of, ‘Let’s go’, and then it was like, ‘OK, maybe let’s not go’.

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Singer and style icon Lyra can’t wait to take to the stage again

Singer and style icon Lyra can’t wait to take to the stage again

Singer and style icon Lyra can’t wait to take to the stage again

“Everyone was like, ‘Would you do a Zoom tour?’ I was like, ‘I swear to God, I can’t’. My voice does not translate well over Zoom. Anytime I went to sing into a computer the thing would nearly have a heart attack because my voice is so loud.

“I’d literally be singing the verses right up by the computer, and then going to the other side of the room to sing the choruses. People would be like, ‘Jesus, she’s loud’, it was a bit unfortunate. But I was one of the lucky ones, I was kept going - I can’t complain too much.”

Born Laura McNamara, the Bandon native, who has been likened to her idols Sia and Florence Welch for her powerhouse voice, broke through with her debut album W.I.L.D in 2016.

Her distinctive tracks, including Emerald and Falling, have since popped up everywhere from Love Island to Grey’s Anatomy.

But Lyra says she’s still adjusting to the level of fame associated with being beamed into millions of people’s living rooms worldwide during the pandemic.

“It’s weird,” says the songwriter, taking a break from “full-on” aunty duty during a visit to her older sister in Kinsale to chat to Magazine+.

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“Like, a girl came up to me the other night, she was like, ‘I’m your number one fan. I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is so weird to hear’. I was not that cool star that everyone is supposed to be.

"I was like, ‘Oh my God, thanks so much! Will we take a photo?’ I’d say she was probably like, ‘I’m supposed to be asking you to take the photo’.”

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Lyra with Jedward and Boy George

Lyra with Jedward and Boy George

Lyra with Jedward and Boy George

Triple threat Lyra – who also plays many of her own instruments – splits her time between the UK, where she typically writes and records, and Ireland, where most of her live work is.

Ranging from heartbreak to bouncing back from it, however, her lyrics have proven universal, especially her experience of a Tinder date that famously inspired Falling.

“That bloody fool!” she laughs at the reminder. “My stuff that I write about has to be about myself, and it has to be very personal. I suppose that’s why I do write a lot of melody and lyrics by myself. I have to tell the story and it’s hard to co-write a song with somebody who hasn’t been through it.

“A couple of years ago, I went through a really bad breakup. It actually took a while to be able to write about it. I managed to get a few songs out of him anyway, a few songs out of the Tinder Swindler,” she jokes, “And coming up I’ve a few songs about just having fun with my friends. Just loads of different things that go on in my life.”

With looks to match her talent, at least the singer won’t be short of romantic inspiration – or, in some cases, cringe-spiration – for her next album. The DMs are coming hard and fast these days, she admits to an envious Magazine+.

“Believe me, you do not want them,” laughs Lyra, who shows no sign of ditching her Cork accent now that she’s gone transatlantic. “You’d be getting cringed out.

“I’ve been sent pictures of men, not like the willy waggler pictures, just them. I’m like, ‘Cringe, I can’t cope with this, what do I do?’ I can’t reply, that’s leading them on, but I feel rude if I don’t because they obviously are fans, and I’m like, ‘Oh God!’ So I’m like stuck between a rock and a hard place.

“It’s very flattering. I mean, if I wasn’t getting them I’d probably be complaining about it.”

Her profile was given an extra boost during lockdown when she appeared as a celebrity judge alongside Boy George and Jedward on Virgin Media talent show The Big Deal.

And while the singer hasn’t heard word of a second season, she says she’s unlikely to be back due her increasingly busy touring schedule, which includes her upcoming performance at Dublin’s new Festival Quarter during the National St. Patrick’s Festival.

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Lyra performing on Dancing with the Stars

Lyra performing on Dancing with the Stars

Lyra performing on Dancing with the Stars

“I think I was very lucky to get the opportunity when I did because we were all still very much in restricted land and my tour had been cancelled,” she says. “So it was a great time for me to be able try something else that I hadn’t done and probably would never have thought of doing.

“But I think if it came back while we weren’t in restrictions – which hopefully we won’t go back into – I think my music would definitely take priority because I’m aspiring to be an artist rather than a celebrity judge type vibe.”

Apart from her music, the artist is also making waves for her traffic-stopping style, and has even been dubbed ‘Ireland’s Lady Gaga’. So how does she feel about the mantle?

“I love it,” effuses the bubbly star, who is currently refilling dancefloors across the country with a remix of Lose My Mind with Irish DJ Shane Codd.

“Like, I definitely won’t be supporting a meat dress – that is just not in my vision at all – but I love being compared to that because she is wild, she is wonderful. She definitely tests the boundaries of fashion, but that’s what fashion is – fashion is about expressing ourselves in different ways.

“I can walk down the street in jeans and t-shirt any day of my life, but I can’t walk down in a see-through dress with pink PVC underwear with thigh-high boots. I could, but I think I’d definitely be getting way more pictures in my DMs – and they’d be the wrong kind!”

After a three year hiatus, Lyra says she can’t wait to “go bananas” on the mainstage, alongside Soulé and Bobbi Arlo, at a free, ticketed event at the National Museum of Ireland on March 16.

Other highlights of St Patrick’s Festival 2022 include traditional music by The Shandrum Céilí Band, stand-up comedy by Kevin McGahern, an Irish food and craft village, yoga classes and art workshops for kids, to name but a few.

Now the singer is determined to put Irish electropop on the map further afield too.

“I just saw the list of Ed Sheeran’s tour coming up. Oh. My. God. He’s not going to get a night’s sleep for the next year, the poor fella. I’d love to do that, I’d just love to be able to go around different places and do what I love,” she says.

“I think it’s just having that one song that latches on everywhere, the likes of Hozier’s Take Me To Church just catapulted him all around the world. And I have it and I’m just waiting for her to arrive in the world. But she’s coming – watch this space.”

See stpatricksfestival.ie

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