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20th October 2021

In conversation with: Lucy Deakin

Read our chat with Lucy Deakin, a Manchester based singer who’s supported Larkins and is set to be the next big thing in pop
In conversation with: Lucy Deakin
Photo: Lucy Deakin – Official Press shot

Lucy Deakin is a Manchester based singer. Featured on NME’s list of the top 100 emerging artists of 2021, releasing new music, and touring with Manchester indie giants Larkins, she’s had a stellar year.

We caught up with her fresh off the release of her recent track ‘2009’.

How did you get your start in the music industry? Have you always wanted to sing?

I’m a massive pop stan – I always say my start in the music industry was down to Disney because I used to be obsessed with Hannah Montana and High School Musical. I had a Nintendo Wii and used to play SingStar, which pretty much taught me how to sing because I was tone deaf beforehand!

So did you ever have any formal voice training or was it literally just SingStar that got you where you are today?

Genuinely when I was younger, SingStar! And then I went to university and I studied music, so I had some training. But basically Nintendo should own my career…

You’ve had a pretty exciting year – your album has been released this month, you’ve had Miley Cyrus give you her approval, you’ve toured with Larkins and you’re consistently getting played on Radio One – you’re doing pretty well! How does it feel? 

It’s just nice to be able to go out and play shows again! I basically started my career online during the pandemic – I’d only done one support slot ever, pre-COVID, so I was really, really new to playing live. I did quite a few shows this summer, and it just inspired me so much. It showed me why I wanted to do this even more than I already did. It is the dream to be able to earn money off something you love, and performing is so, so fun. So that’s breathed some new life into it for me and shows me that it isn’t all online! 

During the pandemic, it was interesting to connect with people, but not get to play any shows or not get to meet anyone was really difficult. Especially with the behind the scenes stuff – shooting videos and artwork etc. So it’s nice that the world’s going back to normal again!

Photo: Lucy Deakin – Official Press shot

So you mentioned you’d studied music at uni. Was that something you always wanted to do? 

I studied it because I wanted to meet more people who had similar interests to me, to find people I want to work with. And I knew I wanted to do a solo project, I just didn’t know what I wanted to sound like, so it felt like the logical next step for me.

I’m very grateful I did it as I got to meet some of the people who have produced all my stuff so far. Karl, for example – I met him at uni, and we work a lot together.

Speaking of Karl – he helps produce your music, so tell me a little bit about your artistic process. How do you and Karl work together? How would one make a Lucy Deakin record?

So, I always have a big playlist of inspirations, particularly stuff from the past and also what I’m listening to now. I go on Spotify and I search through all the pop playlists, and find people to inspire me. I found Upsahl this year, who I think is one of the coolest breakout pop artists right now. Baby Queen is also amazing. And Maggie Lindemann, her new EP is so so good. There’s loads of pop female artists I’m obsessed with at the moment. 

So yeah – I find inspirations old and new, make a playlist. And then I’m really good at concepts and have an idea, so 2009 for example, I just knew I wanted to write a song about the year 2009. It stands out for me. So I just put together a playlist of inspirations and films and movies and artists I loved at the time, and went into the studio. This time, it was Josh from Larkins and Karl and we did the whole project as a three. 

Your song ‘How to Lose a Guy’ is based on the film How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. Do you get a lot of inspiration from media like films and TV? 

Yeah, I love music documentaries and they’re a big way to re-inspire myself if I’m feeling a bit disconnected. I’ll put on a documentary or a film, or an old album I used to listen to growing up. Britney [Spears] and McFly I use a lot, and Avril Lavigne – people who I loved growing up. I love to re-listen because it gives you a fresh perspective on how you want modern music to sound now.

Lucy Deakin features on Manchester label ‘Scruff of The Neck’s’ impressive roster

Would you say you mostly get your inspiration from media? Or are there some things that you’re inspired by in real life? You’ve got quite a lot of songs that are about the ends of relationships and breakups and things like that, so I’m just hoping for your sake that they’re not all based on life experiences!

Oh no! I’ve taken inspiration from different things which have happened to friends and things like that – I listen to what people have said, and put things together. I get an idea from relationships and situations I have been in, or someone I know or something I’ve seen on TV, and pick different points from it. But then some of them are quite true… It depends on the song. 

Has anyone ever recognised themselves or a situation they’ve been in from one of your songs?

I don’t think so. I think people have made speculations and a lot of the time they’ve asked me and they’ve been wrong. 

You mentioned a few artists already – Britney Spears, Avril Lavigne and McFly – but are there any other artists you look up to for inspiration? 

Miley Cyrus is my number one, Kim Petras, and I think anyone who’s following me on any social media knows that I love Charlie XCX. The majority of people I listen to are solo female artists. I don’t know whether I’m just drawn to a strong woman at the front, but I feel like that’s how I always wanted it to be. I always knew I wanted it to be me on my own, just because everyone who I love and majority of them are strong women at the top. 

You’ve had a bit of an image change recently – looking at your Spotify you can see there’s been a massive difference in album covers, quite pink and quite bright at the beginning and then more recently with dark colours and more edgy visuals. Was that a deliberate thing?

Yeah! Initially, I was doing a lot of pink. I don’t know whether it’s because I was doing the whole ‘female pop’ thing or if I felt like I needed to do that to fit in. But particularly with this new project, I was mood boarding what I wanted the look to be, what I wanted the sound to be, but then with all the pictures I got together they didn’t reflect me at all. I just wanted to make sure that it was a progression from the last project, trying to separate it out as much as possible. This girl called Jess was helping me with my styling and she was amazing – she banned me from using pink for a while. But it was all intentional, yes, and I’m so glad I did it.

How important do you think image is for an artist compared to the music you make? Is your persona an integral part of your job?

100%. I think it helps further what you’re trying to say or what the genre is even more. If you look at Lady Gaga – one of the queens of pop in the 2010s era – the meat dress and the outrageous outfits and all of that stuff all helped just amplify everything she was doing musically. And Miley Cyrus’ Bangerz era, the way she dressed, and she cut her hair quite drastically, it all just mirrored how everything changed for her as an artist. It just amplifies what’s going on musically, I think. Those two people specifically, I took massive inspiration from as well, just being bold and going out there and just doing it.

So from a deeper feminist perspective, do you think that’s something that you feel like you have to do as a female artist? Have a recognisable aesthetic that’s just as important as the music?

Yes, 100% and I think it’s sad it’s that way. Generally, a lot of male musicians will go out wearing jeans and a T-shirt for every show – they don’t have to worry about how they look. There are exceptions, but the majority will have just natural-colored hair and a casual outfit, whereas I feel like it’s just expected that I’ll wear something dressy onstage, or Arian Grande for example. 

On the flip side, though, I’m not complaining because I love to get to wear something different or something super, super bright or out there, which I wouldn’t usually do. It’s really exciting to be able to do that.

What are your thoughts on using social media as an artist? Have you found it’s been a positive space or more negative?

I think I go through waves. It’s quite difficult to be creative and put out content and interact with people and have enough things to post but also try and get in the studio and write stuff and also taking space for yourself to feel inspired. I think it’s very difficult to do all of that at the same time and do it well. But for the majority it has been a positive space. 

How have you felt about being played on Radio One?

Jack Saunders played me and then when my song came out Molly King played it on Best New Pop, and then Dean McCullough played me on the Saturday. I knew Dean from when he used to host Gaydio, one of my favourite radio stations, so I was so excited! People were like, “I’ve just heard you on Radio One on the way to all the football games!”, because it was on a Saturday. It was just a surreal thing to hear myself on there. I used to listen to Radio One on the way to and from school every day growing up, so to hear my own name on there and to hear my voice was weird.

You’ve got your own headline tour coming up this autumn – how do you feel about that? How are you preparing?

I’m so excited. I’ve never done a headline show before so it’ll be my first one at the London show. And then, obviously I’m excited to play at Yes in Manchester! I’m just so excited to finally play live with people because as I was saying before, COVID meant that I’ve not really played live, a lot of my friends have never see me do my original stuff, and I’ve also never really played for fans as well. So it’s just really exciting to do it all at once.

In terms of Manchester, you know the city quite well, so what are your favourite spots in the city?

The pizzas and the vegan fake chicken at YES are amazing, so that’s definitely a recommendation. And just next to the Arndale there’s this falafel and vegan takeaway called Aladdin’s, a little independent store on the corner. Every time I walk past I end up going in and buying something because it’s so good. And NQ64 is really fun!

Thank you so much for speaking to us. It’s been an absolute pleasure. 

Lucy Deakin is playing at YES in Manchester on the 18th of November 2021.

Her Instagram is @LucyDeakin and her Facebook and Twitter are @LucyDeakinMusic.

Check out her Spotify here!

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