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2023 SXSW Interviews Music

Interview: LÜCY rises above the noise

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Every year Taiwan Beats throws an amazing party at SXSW’s Elysium, and this one was no exception. Usually, there are the established artists that we’ve all come to know and love (Elephant Gym, 9m88) who anchor the showcase, but every year there are also some up-and-coming musicians who are criminally overlooked. This time around, that honor belonged to rising artist LÜCY, the Internet-friendly musician who opened up the showcase with a solid, excitable set.

Not to be confused for any other Lucies of the world, (or really, even other LUCYs at this very festival), LÜCY can be easily found online with the addition of a simple umlaut that she proudly wears above her name like a crown. Already, the artist, whose music dips into dream pop, electronic, and indie rock, has released her first album LÜCY, last year, which quickly gained attention from music playlists and online bloggers.

LÜCY – LÜCY (2022).

On the night of the showcase, the cowboy hat-toting musician ran through a number of songs from her self-titled album before ending on a crowd-hyping singalong “OH HEY,” a song she put together with Japan’s shoegaze trio Hitsujibungaku 羊文学. Singing in a mixture of Mandarin and English (very true to how her self-titled is structured), LÜCY quickly charmed the audience with her confidence and glowing personality. It looked like she felt at home right on that stage.

I met LÜCY for an impromptu chat after her set, and it was clear that some of that high energy still lingered after she’d gotten off-stage. In addition, it was definitely one of the more unique venues I’ve had to conduct an interview in — we were whisked backstage to talk as the Taiwan Beats showcase raged on. There was a single thin wall separating us from the similarly great Taiwanese indie pop band The Chairs as they began their set. It was a surreal experience — LÜCY and I shouting loudly above the noise as I asked her questions about Texas, Internet-collaborations and the festival itself. But in a way, it was strangely reflective of the chaotic energy of the festival, and reminiscent of the spontaneity that LÜCY built her brand on.  

LÜCY performs at SXSW. Photo by Young Team Productions / Taiwan Beats.

Is this your first time in Texas?

Yeah, also the first time in the whole United States. Actually, I’m a little nervous because I don’t really speak English. I make English songs, but I don’t really speak English. Yeah, only in singing! Also practicing… it’s a nice opportunity to practice my English. 

What has your experience been like so far being at the festival?

I went to many, many festivals before. There’s also a festival called Primavera in Spain. I was there last year. And I was in Hong Kong… Clockenflap, you know? Yeah, [it was] so huge! [I was there] two weeks ago. So this one is kind of a live house style, so I’m not that nervous anymore. It’s a little bit like an underground live stage.

So your music, to me, gives me a dream pop, indie pop sort of vibe. What influences do you take from and how do you describe your music style?

I wouldn’t put my music in any kind of style, but at first I was just swiping my Instagram and I saw there’s a musician called girl in red and also beabadoobee, and I saw them just playing guitar and writing songs in their room… in a very lo-fi style. Not very good quality, just guitar and vocals. And I really like that pure… the feeling of very pure vocals. And then I tried to play [it] myself in my room also. So before, it’s also a little bit like folk music.

And then I have my producer and then they also put some ideas together and then made it like dream pop. But I’ll try many different styles, too. Like, I have some songs that are very rock.  And also “Trick or Trip?” is a little bit, like, electronic.

What’s your favorite song to play live? I know you just finished your performance!

I think maybe the last song, called “OH HEY.” I cooperated with a Japanese band [Hitsujibungaku] because it’s very hyper. You can ask everyone to sing with you, and they go, “Oh, hey!” It’s very easy.

So, speaking of that song, how did that collaboration [with Hitsujibungaku] come about?

So I was just listening to Spotify, and I actually don’t listen to Japanese songs. But this one day… Spotify has a station where you can play similar styles and I was listening to one of the Japanese bands. And I saw [their stuff] and it was actually very good. The Japanese band I collaborated with also has a song with a very famous anime series in Japan [which I liked].

So I followed them on Instagram and they followed me back! We kind of texted a little bit and I was also doing this song called “OH HEY” but it was not so rock yet. And then we chatted a little bit, like, I heard their songs like shoegaze and also a little bit… not too rock. And I said, “What about we make a rock song together and show them our girl power?”

Are you going to see any showcases or meet up with any bands during SX?

I know a band, [Ishmael Ensemble], but I don’t really know how to pronounce the band name because it’s like a very North European language. I bought an album, too. They’re really good. I’m gonna see them on the 16th!

What was it like creating your self-titled album? Did you have a clear vision in mind or was it kind of like, “Oh, I have all these singles, let me just put it together…” sort of thing?

No, actually there’s a storyline! If you listen to it, it feels like a road trip. From the very beginning, the intro is called “2021,” and recorded [throughout 2020 and 2021]. It’s two years together and also represents my 20 years old and 21 years old, because these two years are the beginning of my music career — when I started to make music. So, yeah, it means a lot to me. And then the next song and the third song also connect with each other.

Why did you choose to name your album LÜCY?

I think when I write music, I feel like I’m just recording my daily life, like writing diaries, but I record my melodies instead of words or pictures. I like to write my music like diaries. And that’s why I wanted to name it LÜCY, because it’s also like some period of my life.

Last question for you — what kind of food are you most looking forward to in Texas?

Yesterday, we tried the best barbecue in the town — Terry’s Black!

Was it the best barbecue in town? What do you think?

I was a little bit sleepy [when I had it]… but the beef is so soft! And the corn, sweet corn, and the 通心粉 [macaroni]! Very good! But it’s not cheap. I think it’s worth it.


This interview was conducted by Li-Wei Chu in-person at SXSW 2023 in Austin, Texas in March.

Header photo by Cheng Chung Yao, taken from the Unmute photoseries published by Taiwan Beats.

Artist pages: Facebook | Instagram | Spotify

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