Introducing to soulheads, Lydia René. This sisters sound invokes the refreshing simplicity and natural beauty of the genre we all cut our teeth on: rhythm and blues. Playing her song Feels So Nice, you cant help but to feel the warm invitation to have a lazy Sunday afternoon swinging on a porch. Using the base formula of R&B and jazzing up the tracks with a certain flair and joie de vivre, you can feel the presence of the classically trained musician on every track of her debut LP Vintage Heart. Soulhead.com had the opportunity to interview the new artist and learn more about her. Read the full text of our interview below!
soulhead: Talk to us about Vintage Heart! Well actually, just your creation process in general! Does each song come about a different way? Do you generally write and record from a specific emotional place or vibe? What are some of your biggest sources of inspiration?
Lydia René: My writing process is typically the same for each song but sometimes certain songs come from a deeper emotional place than others. Usually I start by sitting down at the piano and coming up with a bunch of different chords that sound cool to me, then I start to organize it into an actually song (Verse, Chorus, sometimes Bridge). Ill typically write my chorus first. Sometimes the whole song comes to me at once, but if it doesnt Ill write the chorus first then the verses, then the bridge. Most of the time it takes a short time to get my songs done, other times Im strong on a song for weeks or months. Some of my biggest sources of inspiration are my personal relationships with people. With my hometown, with my friends, with my parents, With God, with my significant other. Relationships are very important to me.
sh: Is there a specific theme/message that you want to convey with your music, or with your platform as an artist?
LR: Im definitely an advocate for love and music that challenges you, in a good way. I want my music to make people feel good about themselves, love themselves, be confident, stay positive, love other people. I went to the Stevie Wonder GRAMMY Tribute just a few weeks ago and he challenged all songwriters to write about love. I used to feel one dimensional because I liked Love songs so much but after hearing that I feel like its necessary. I hope my overall message is Love and Positivity.
soulhead: What lessons have you learned triumphs, hardships, successes- from creating Vintage Heart?
LR: The process creating the LP has definitely not been easy. It just started with trying to get 1 song done then with the help of the producers I worked with we slowly got 1 song done at a time. It started out just being a 5 or 6 song EP but with the help of winning the LAMN Jam (Los Angeles Music Network) Competition I was able to make it a 10 track project. I received over $50,000 worth of prizes including 24 hours of free studio time. Our process was definitely unconventional. Most artists record a ton of songs and choose from there, but because Im an indie artist I chose the songs ahead of time and just recorded those songs. It was a lot of hard work but definitely rewarding as the good press trickles in slowly. Ive learned that Its okay to accept help from people lol. I did almost everything by myself including the album artwork. No matter how good your project might be, having a good team behind you to help promote, market and sell your album is definitely a plus.
soulhead: You have had the opportunity to work alongside some great names in the music industry. What artists have offered you the most guidance and support?
LR: Guidance and support is often something that is hard to come by in the music industry. I always wanted a mentor or someone I could run things past especially when I first started singing. But I will say that several people (whether I have worked with them or not) have definitely been offering up a tremendous amount of support lately, especially Carol Riddick. Carol has been in the industry for years and has worked with everyone including Jill Scott and Musiq Soulchild. Shes truly been a blessing and has offered advice and support ever since she saw me open for Eric Roberson. Some other people that have been great are Aja and Fatin from Kindred The Family Soul, Jaguar Wright as well as Anthony Bell who just produced some tracks on Jazmine Sullivans new album.
soulhead: And what has been the greatest piece of wisdom imparted on you by a music industry veteran?
LR: There are several things Ive learned from some people in the industry as well as great business people in general. Someone once told me you have to leave your hometown in order for them to love you (laughter). Well, let me tell you how true that really was! Im not even close to being famous yet but I already feel more love and support from my hometown area now that Ive moved from the Philadelphia area to the Greater Los Angeles area. Someone also told me that fortune favors the bold. Ive always been a very shy person so being bold doesnt exactly come naturally or easily to me. However, especially since I moved across the country, Ive tried to be bolder in my actions and it has certainly paid off.
soulhead: You mentioned earlier working with a big producer? Do you have an ideal producer- or any other artist- that you would love to collaborate with?
LR: Id absolutely love to be able to work with Pharrell one day! But I also think it might be cool to collaborate with someone like James Taylor. Hes such an amazing songwriter. I also think that a certain kind of magic happens when young artists team up with legends to create new music.
soulhead: And what about fellow up-and-coming artists with whom you have connected. Any collaborations- planned or hoped for?
LR: I love discovering and doing things with other new indie artists. A young MC I met, Trademark- will be working on a song with me soon. Hes super talented and has a great message to share so Im really excited about that. There are a bunch of indie artists that Id love to work with including artists like Chinua Hawk, Mike Hicks, Anna Moore, Mackenzie and Micah D. Robinson just to name a few.
soulhead: What has your evolution as an artist been like thus far? And where do you see your development going in the future?
LR: I think my evolution as an artist has been pretty cool. Im getting older but with that comes more confidence and maturity. I never expected my journey to be easy and I think that mentality has helped. Some people think that right after they go viral, or they work with some big name producer, that they will blow up and overnight; that their name will be in lights when 99% of the time it really doesnt work that way. Its a slow build and Im enjoying the process. Im much better than when I first started- singing, playing, writing, producing- because I work at my craft. Going forward in my career Ill always continue to work to create the best Live performance experience possible. Also Id love to start doing more artist development and being a Mentor to other young artists looking to do what Im doing.
soulhead: I understand that your family was able to help you overcome some stage fright and to gain confidence as a performer. What was your transition like from a writer to a performer? Is that transition still underway?
LR: My family definitely helped a lot. As I get older I realize how much my parents essentially were like my music mentors the whole time and I didnt know it. In high school I refused to perform in front of others because I was extremely self conscious so I wrote songs. Once I recorded my first Live album in 2009 and I had to perform all of my songs in front of a live audience I caught the performance bug and Ive been doing live shows ever since. Also indie artist China Hawk really said some encouraging words to me when i performed at my college open mic. After that I felt as though I could feel more confident about my life performance. At this point in my career Im always learning and always trying to get better at what I do but Im extremely confident while Im on stage now.
soulhead: Last question. You mentioned earlier the importance of relationships to you. How about your relationship with music? How has that relationship changed since you began sharing it with fans and as your fan base has increased?
LR: I definitely started to look at my music differently once I began to share it with fans. I might think my music sounds one way but my fans and listeners might think it sounds completely different. However, I look forward to everyones opinions because Ive lived with this music for years now and Its great to hear what others think that are listening to it with fresh ears. I create music that I like and that is very personal to me. I dont necessarily create with an audience in mind. I hope I can continue to create timeless music and remain true to myself going forward in my career.
You can listen to her full LP Vintage Heart here.