Other Voices Ballina – In Conversation with Lydia Ford
Posted in Connect on February 13, 2020.
With just two weeks to go – Other Voices Ballina returns on February 28th & 29th with an amazing weekend of music and song throughout the town of Ballina. St. Michael’s Church, the flagship venue hosts two nights of TV recordings including internationally acclaimed acts such as Elbow and David Gray, complimented by a Music Trail taking in some of the best live venues the town has to offer.
While Other Voices plays homage to the biggest and most interesting names in music, it also offers a large platform to showcase upcoming and amazing homegrown talent. One such rising Irish star, is Mayo native Lydia Ford. Her brand of ‘dreamy pop’ is receiving critical acclaim on an international scale, projecting her as the ‘Ones to Watch for 2020’.
The Castlebar born singer returns to her home county for her first performance in Mayo in ten years as part of the Other Voices Music Trail. We spoke with Lydia and discussed growing up in a musical household, her path into music and how every new experience along the way seems bigger than what she previously imagined possible.
Other Voices Ballina is just around the corner in your home county, you must be delighted to be taking part in it this year?
LF: I am, I actually haven’t played in Mayo in about 10 years, so it’s really nice for my first show of 2020 to be in my home county. I was in rock bands as a teenager, so we used to play places like the TF (Castlebar), Claremorris, Ballyhaunis but this will be the first time as a solo act
Tell us a little bit about your memories of growing up in Mayo.
LF: Of course, well I’m from Castlebar so I had a lot of musical opportunities, mainly with the pantomime, I was in the Castlebar pantomime for 4 years and that’s where I really got my love of performing. I remember being so scared to audition and put it off for years. I waited until I was 9 before I could do it and I was just so scared and then once I got into it, they were just the most loving, welcoming group of people and just so encouraging and that’s really where I was like ‘Oh, this is what I want to do, this is the best feeling in the world and I want to keep doing this’, so I have the pantomime to thank for a lot of my career to be honest, when I was involved it was in the TF Theatre, which is a massive venue so you were performing to thousand of people of three nights so it’s one way to throw you into the deep end for sure, but great all the same.
We understand that you were brought up in a musical household and you were exposed to a wide variety of musical genres from an early age? Is there anything in particular that sticks out in your mind?
LF: My mam was really the big music head, my dad loves his music but he’s not very musical unfortunately, but Mam was always playing Fleetwood Mac, Bruce Springsteen, Annie Lennox, some really cool stuff and always singing around the house sot that’s what really got me and my sister into it. We also loved musicals, we used to just rewind Grease and watch it and learn all the songs. It wasn’t until I was around nine years old that I asked for a guitar for Christmas and that was what set me off.
You began to write from an early age and kept very low key about it?
LF: I started from when I could string four chords together, writing little songs but I was 10 or 11 years old so I didn’t really have much to write about! But at one point I tried to make a band with all my neighbours. I used to write the songs and someone would sing them. Someone has a home video somewhere and I’m dreading the day that resurfaces!
From there, it was kind of school stuff, pantomime and then eventually in my teenage years it was all boys in bands and they needed a singer so they started to ask me to join their bands and I just I managed to take that song writing role in it because I loved it so much, but it took me a long time to find what felt like me. I think I’m still finding it a little bit, but it was lots of years of starting poppy, then went rock-y, then very much singer-songwriter and now it’s very much pop. It’s been a journey!
Then you made your first EP ‘Heart on Sleeves’ available in 2010. Tell us a little bit about the decision to get your music out there?
LF: It wasn’t really a decision I made, I had been in all these bands and then I started writing some acoustic songs that I recorded in my room. There was one day I had a music practical in school, when I was in fifth year, and I didn’t realise it was coming up so I hadn’t practiced for it so when they asked me to play I just ended up playing one of those songs. Afterwards, everyone was asking who the song was by and I was like ‘Oh, I wrote it!’ and that was the catalyst. People were asking about more songs and asking about c.d’s and I was just burning c.d’s on my home computer and handing them out at school. It wasn’t really a conscious decision it was the first time I put music out there and felt good about it and happy for people to hear it. It was definitely a big stepping point.
Your second EP ‘Taking Shortcuts’ came out to high praise nationally and since then you have been receiving plaudits from the likes of Hot Press, Billboard, Today FM, 2FM and AXS to name a few, in addition to being featured recently as one of Ticketmaster’s ‘New Picks for 2020’. It must be a surreal feeling at times to realise you are on this upward trajectory and I’m sure you are excited about everything that the future holds?
LF: Yeah, it’s very exciting. It’s funny, everytime something happens I’m thinking that this is as big as it’s going to be and then something else happens. So especially the last few months where I have been releasing more poppy stuff, the ‘Bad Things’ EP, that I put out and it has been a lot of 2FM, BBC Introducing, that kind of stuff. Every time something happens or my phone goes off, something else comes so I’m very excited for what the next year brings but regardless, when you hear your song on the radio or your friends saying that they love listening to your music, it’s the nicest feeling.
If you were to describe your music in one sentence, what would it be?
LF: Oh, that’s hard. I like to call it Dreamy Pop, it’s kind of atmospheric. A lot of my friends call it Happy/Sad, that’s the word they use to describe it!
You have a single scheduled for release shortly. Tell us a little bit about that and your plans for the coming months. Where can we expect to see Lydia Ford in the near future?
LF: I have potentially two singles coming out in March, one is under my own name, the first release of 2020, the next steppingstone from ‘Bad Things EP’ and the other one is a collaboration with an artist-producer in Tokyo.
We believe you are working with a number of producers in a number of the big cities like London and the amazing Tokyo?!
LF: Oh, I can’t wait to go (to Tokyo), it’s number one on my bucket list! Maybe this song can make me famous in Japan so I can head on over!! So we just finished mastering that so that is two singles for March and then in April 17th I’m playing a headline show for MCD in Whelan’s (Dublin), that is my first headline show so really looking forward to that.
Well, we’re only a couple of weeks out from Other Voices Ballina, you must be getting excited for the gig? What can people expect from your show?
LF: We have a full band with tracks playing as well so the synthy/dreamy/ethereal elements are still playing, it’s just a more live experience of the studio songs. I have such an amazing band, it’s very upbeat and its and it’s is just a fun, fun show.
Lydia, it’s been a pleasure to speak with you, thanks for giving us the time and best of luck with everything ahead. We look forward to seeing you in Ballina in a couple of weeks.
Lydia Ford will be playing on the Other Voices Ballina Music Trail over the weekend of February 28th & 29th. To keep up to date with Lydia, head on over to her website lydiafordmusic.com.
For further information please stay tuned to Mayo.ie and Mayo County Council Social Media ChannelsTags: #OtherVoicesBallina, Ballina, Lydia Ford, Music Trail, Other Voices