Interview with Lyia Meta

Your vocal performances on your new album Always You are breathtaking; the contralto vocal range meshes gorgeously with the tasteful, orchestral-laden arrangements. At what age and how did you start to find a passion for singing and music?

Thank you! Music and the arts for the most part have been a part of my growing years. My dad who was a folkloric artist and a stage performer himself influenced us from a very tender age. I never really gave much thought to it because it was just something we did. I had planned a totally different trajectory for my life. One that would take me as far away from the arts — something more exciting, or so I thought! However, the stage beckoned and I have never looked back. I cannot imagine my life without the stage or being creative. I must have been about 7 or 8 years of age when I did my first grand performance for family and friends! This included a song and dance! I cringe at the thought but I was just so full of excitement at the prospect of being able to sing for ‘grown ups’ that I dove into it with gusto and conviction!

Your discography spans from metal and country to pop. Is there a particular style or genre you most enjoy writing and creating within?

Yes, I enjoy writing songs that would best fall under the rock genre. Most of my songs have so much angst that is rooted in pain and anger. Often they touch on the need to rise and fight for what is rightfully yours. One of my earliest childhood memories is of me listening to Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and the like and these influences may have shaped my preferences on what genre would serve as a vehicle to propel my thoughts, emotions and lyrical content but I sincerely think that it is the world we live in today and my reaction to the way sociopolitical issues shape our lives that has me writing lyrics that have a ‘call to action’ or ‘the need to stand up for what we believe. I do not believe in ‘picking a lane’. We all have our creative process and the outcome is usually, if not forced, something beautiful. I am who I am and love exploring and flexing my muscles as I push myself to discover. I cannot imagine me being anything other than that.

The jazzy pop sound on Always You thoroughly compels. Does the release have any central themes or inspiration?

All of the eight songs on the album were written by Los Angeles songwriter Denise Dimin. This is our second collaboration, the first being 15013 during the pandemic. She trusted me enough to interpret her songs and bring to ‘life’(so to speak), her words and music through my own voice.

The central theme behind the songs is about love lost and the subtleties of desire, longing, and discretion. The subtlety adds an element of mystery and sophistication to the lyrics, which I hope to have achieved.

I tried to adds layers of depth and ambiguity through my delivery, allowing my listeners to interpret the lyrics based on their own experiences and perceptions. At the same time I wanted to create a sense of intrigue and intimacy, inviting listeners to engage with the music on a deeper level.

The inspiration behind these songs stem from the experiences of human relationships and the complexities of romantic interactions. Love, loss, desire, and longing are themes that resonate with people across cultures and generations. I wanted to capture the multifaceted nature of these emotions.

What’s your favorite venue to perform at?

Every experience is unique. Whether a table of one or a crowd of thousands, an appreciative crowd is really all I need. My recent performances in India, Texas and Los Angeles, did just that. The crowds were incredible and very receptive. One has to experience this for it to dawn unto you that, ‘this is it!’. It is like coming home. Does that make any sense? A sense of belonging!

Do you have a specific process or ritual when creating new music?

Hah! I do not have one. I wish I did because it will be so much easier for me. I always have tunes and melodies running in my head. If my education in music theory was better than it is, I would be able to write down each note and immediately have it scored. However, this has not stopped me. I record all melodies and lyrics (usually very disjointed bits and pieces) into my phone recorder. I then, maybe, tinkle around on my beat-up acoustic guitar adding very basic chords to it. And then it just grows from there.
But recently, I find I can do without the tinkering of the guitar chords. I just write them on my phone knowing I can figure the rest out later. And I always do! Thank goodness my partner, is a guitar player!

Any favorite artists or albums you’re listening to at the moment?

I think I may be way behind with what’s new and what isn’t. Thank goodness, I do not follow trends! I think this helps with my creative process. It helps me retain what is innately me, which is being able to traverse genres and not do what is expected. With so much new music coming out every day, I think keeping up is almost impossible. I have no favorites, though I love the blues and rock. Most days, it is classic rock or the blues but I listen to almost everything including music in different languages. The album on my car stereo this last week has been Stevie Ray Vaughan (the collection catalogue).

If you could collaborate with any artist, alive or dead, who would it be?

Jeff Beck

What do you find is the most satisfying part of being an artist?

Creative Expression, being able to evolve as an artist is extremely satisfying as I discover more of myself through the process. I love to connect with others and to make a difference, no matter how small in their lives. Last but not least, fulfilment! The process of creating music refining my skills, and evolving as an artist is personally fulfilling. It brings a sense of achievement and satisfaction.

What is the biggest challenge you find in today’s music industry?

Streaming and Royalties. For independent artists who do all the leg work and promotions, it is very disheartening at the end of the day when the rewards reaped through these platforms are nothing to shout about. The rise of streaming platforms and the decline of physical sales have altered the revenue model for musicians. While streaming provides access to a broader audience, artists like me often struggle with low royalty rates and difficulty earning a sustainable income from streaming alone.

Discoverability and Oversaturation. There is a standard number of about 100,000 new songs released every day! With the ease of music production and distribution, the industry has become highly saturated. Artists struggle to stand out and gain visibility among the vast amount of content available. It is difficult to break through the noise!

What’s upcoming for the project?

Right now, I am concentrating on ALWAYS YOU the album. It took me a year to get it where I wanted it to be. With my collaborator, Denise Dimin, we have been working hard at getting it heard and to the right people who would give it a serious listen. I have other collaborations, I have been working on, including some of my own songs. Denise and I have spoken about doing another song but we are in no hurry. It takes a village but I will get there soon enough! For now, I am content to see where ALWAYS YOU will take me. One of my favorite expressions, and one I live by, is “We cannot change the direction of the wind, but we can adjust the sails!” I am always testing the wind and making adjustments where I need to!

Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

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