If you’re into John Keats poetry, the name Lamia might ring a bell. A beautiful snake-woman with melancholic eyes and a voice like bubbling honey, she trades a secret with the god Hermes so that she may once again become the perfect woman and fall in love. But it is all an illusion. LAMIA (note the capitals), the Berlin-based singer, songwriter and producer is no serpent, but her wide, mascara-framed eyes and silky smooth voice, singing of love, dreams and illusions, are perfectly befitting.
Shape-shifting through her sound, LAMIA’s eerie electronic pop has already enchanted the ears of BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens and BBC Introducing, as well a score of other radio shows, festivals and publications. At 22 years old, she has already released two singles with UK indie label Dance to the Radio (of the Pigeon Detectives).
Following her incredible Studio Sessions performance, we caught up with the up-and-coming talent – who just so happens to also be a dBs Berlin music student – to delve deeper into her unique sound.
“I am more interested in how sounds feel in terms of self-expression than trends or genre.”
Hi LAMIA, how’s it going?
Good, thank you.
Describe your sound in five words.
Postmodern, dark, honest, thoughtful, jazz-influenced.
Your music is really hypnotising – we love the combination of your powerful voice and the dark, minimal production. How did you arrive at that sound?
I have a strong sense of my own identity. I am more interested in how sounds feel in terms of self-expression than trends or genre. I also work very hard.
Who or what are your biggest inspirations?
Lots of different things inspire me. I like being around other ambitious people; I call them ‘future people.’ Future people inspire me because you’ve both mutually agreed that your only option is to go out and work for what you want to achieve.
What drew you to Berlin?
Because I see it as a forward-thinking creative place where there are no boundaries. I wanted to push my creativity and create art that is original and unique to my own artistic identity. I want to build upon my skills and progress in Berlin as a self-determining and successful artist.
How has the city rubbed off on your music?
It’s opened up a completely different sound palette. Techno is a completely different ballgame.
“Singing is my craft and I love moving people with it.”
Are you performing here?
I am currently working on a live set with my new material. I am really excited to perform again; it’s a necessity for me to let the songs breathe and be experienced by other people. Singing is my craft and I love moving people with it.
You said behind the scenes of Studio Sessions that songwriting is your catharsis. How do take the chaos that is emotion and order it into a song?
There isn’t really a set process. The order depends on how I’m feeling. I think most artists and producers would tell you this.
Do you see most of your ideas through to completion or are there tonnes of lyrics and ideas on the back-burner?
I think initial ideas are often an opener for new and better ideas once the concept is more developed and realised. I find this with lyrics in particular; I might not fully understand what I’m saying myself and new ideas come out of old ones, helping me to get to the core of why I sat down and started creating in the first place.
“I really enjoy what I do, I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Being a singer/songwriter is enough for a lot of artists. Why did you choose to also do your own production?
Because I couldn’t stand relying on other people to realise my ideas. Also, at my previous college, I was told by my tutor that as a vocalist/writer ‘production was not my role’ and should be left to a formal producer. I stopped producing for a few months, and then one day something snapped and when everyone went home for summer I got a summer job and worked during the day and produced at night. I would work until 5 or 6am, sleep for a bit and then go to work. This went on for about four months. Six months later my first demo ‘Wounded Pride’ was overheard in a workshop and I was signed to the indie label Dance to the Radio.
We’re sure a lot of people commend you for how much you’ve achieved at such a young age. What keeps you motivated?
I really enjoy what I do, I can’t imagine doing anything else.
“I feel strongly that if people see something in you, you should always be humble, grateful and never forget those people.”
You got played by BBC Introducing – congratulations! Can you tell us a bit about that and how it came about?
My first live performance was at the BBC Introducing Showcase in 2016. They have always believed in my vision and me. Alan Raw, head of BBC Introducing in West Yorkshire, played one of my first demos on Huw Stephens, BBC Radio 1. I feel strongly that if people see something in you, you should always be humble, grateful and never forget those people.
You’ve got some beautiful music videos, and a really strong visual identity in general. Since your music touches on identity quite a lot, we wondered, do these feelings also extend to how you are perceived by the music industry?
The most important thing is expressing my ideas and connecting with my listeners. Music is the narrative to people’s lives. It brings you back to different periods in your life and draws out and plays upon how you feel, whether in the past or present. I want my music to be a part of someone’s narrative, regardless of who they are.
“Educating yourself in how your mind works and finding the root of the problem is always best.”
You say that you want to be signed by Universal in two years. What steps are you taking to get there?
At the moment, I am working at least six hours a day on my music. I feel very strongly that the music is key.
What advice would you give to anyone who shares your ambition but doesn’t have the self-belief?
I think educating yourself in how your mind works and finding the root of the problem is always best.
And finally, what should LAMIA fans be excited about in the coming months?
The music I am making at the moment is very, very exciting.
Thanks so much for chatting to us!