Local heroes: Lyra

Radical softness, empowering resistance. Join us for a lovely chat with the musician, performance artist, and ethereal mystical beauty Lyra.

Text and interview by Gabriela Holesova & Anna Wim

Just the name itself, “Lyra”, seems to be glowing. And the person behind it is as mesmerizing and poetical as the sound of it. Pretty much anything Lyra does seems to be emitting the warm, charming feeling of positive energy and hope you get when you meet her in person. She’s a singer, she’s a musician, she’s an activist, a poet, a magical creature.

Make sure to listen to Lyra’s latest track “elevate” and read our interview below.

 

ANDE PRESS IMAGES

 

First of all, we love your name – Lyra! What is the story behind it?
Well, I love my name for a lot of reasons. Lyra means “lyre,” like the ancient Greek instrument, which is nice because so much of my life is about music. It’s also a constellation of stars. Most importantly, Lyra is the lead character of the young adult sci-fi/fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. She was my hero when I was a kid and those were my favorite books growing up. She was tough, bright, independent, and she wanted to help people and solve problems.

 

You’re a perfect example of a person who found their strength in their own fragility and softness. Was the journey towards self-acceptance difficult, or did it come naturally?
It was really difficult – it still is. There are so many artificial ideas of what it means, socially, to present strength. Usually it’s selfishness and lack of consideration for other people and resources. I tried to be as traditionally tough and strong as I thought I needed to be – for maybe 10 years – before I had to give that up. It wasn’t helping me, and it wasn’t helping anyone else. My natural strength is something softer and more considerate, and it took me a long time to realize this.

 

Although you moved to Berlin four years ago, do you feel like there is still a lot to discover? Do you feel like the city continues to shape you and you’re shaping it in return?
Yeah, actually I feel like Berlin is constantly changing, objectively and from my own perception. Berlin is a super rich city that has a lot of layers. For instance I’ve just moved to Wedding, which is really nice neighborhood I hadn’t spent much time in before moving here, and I love it. Every area of Berlin has its own feel, its own mood.

My identity has been shaped recently by my experiences more or less growing up in Berlin. I had an adolescence here that I skipped out on as a kid. I do feel like I am in a dialogue with the symbols Berlin presents, and the symbols it could present. I think it’s important to remember that cultures and scenes are formed through community activity, it’s not down to just one person. But collective change happens through collective shifts and perspective changes. The Berlin I want to see is a healthy and sustainable Berlin. I hope that at some point, I stop hearing stories of young kids nearly dying in clubs on a drug overdose. That would make me feel good, to hear less stories like that.

 

 

Where or when do you feel the most you?
My home space is very important to me. My bedroom, my desk, my computer screen, these spaces have always been most vital to me as a queer kid. I grew up creating myself as female video game avatars and questing with people from all over the world online – a digital space has been essential to me figuring out my identity. There is the rift with the physical world that I’m always trying to heal. I’ve never felt totally comfortable as a person in public, and I’ve been working that out since I was a kid: out in nature, in club spaces, online, through my transition.

 

Do you think that your gender transition reshaped your music vision; for instance through reclaiming your voice?
Yeah, absolutely. In a way it allowed me to commit to certain types of music I always wanted to listen to or make, but felt maybe would not be received positively if I put into public or performed live. Starting to transition gave me the freedom to be whatever kind of gender I was going to be. It’s been such a profound shift in my sense of freedom and creative expression, I’ll be working this out for the rest of my life.

 

Releasing your first song outside of your usual environment of the underground club scene, do you take it as a further exploration of your identity through music?
Yeah, I’m always exploring. I think the club is a really important space, and it will always inform where I’ve come from and what I’m doing. I want to take the sustainable elements of club culture with me wherever I go. But I also have this background in traditional theater, opera, concert performance, performance art so I want to keep exploring these formats as well.
 

 
Apart from the recently released track, could you tell us a bit more about your upcoming plans?
Well, I’m still working on new music for an EP. I’ll keep performing live and trying out different kinds of performances and how they feel. I have several ongoing collaborative projects with friends and will start some new collaborations as well.

 

Which artist, or perhaps an album or a track, influenced you the most in who you are and what you do?
‘Hunter’ by Björk. One example of why Björk’s song-poetry is so powerful to me and to so many people.

“If travel is searching
and home what’s been found
I’m not stopping

I’m going hunting
I’m the hunter
I’ll bring back the goods
but I don’t know when…”

It’s this beautiful sense of searching while not knowing, and persevering into the unknown to find treasure, and trusting the hunt. It’s similar to a mood I feel when reading a lot of Rumi’s poetry. I return to this track over and over again in my life – it’s an artifact of power for me, a reminder to continue searching, to never remain still for too long.

 


 
Our topic of the month is “resistance”; what are your ways of resisting oppression and discrimination?
One way I resist oppression or discrimination that is put on me is by trying to find the time and space to discuss how oppression and violence make us feel. We have all been both victims and perpetrators in our lives. I actually had a situation the other day where I was able to talk to someone directly about their feelings of transphobia, and how they made me feel. It is super empowering to just blow the conflicts open and keep those channels of communication open, but it can get exhausting too. The internet is a great space to share feelings and experiences and release tensions. It can also be a learning experience for other people, to be radically vulnerable in expressing how the social realities we embody actually affect us, and to verbalize how we’d like those realities to change.

 

And last but not least; we’re always looking for new artists to feature in our magazine – is there anyone interesting you think we should write about on Kink?
Negroma – witch, priestess, goddess, choreographer, performer, DJ – all-around enchanting and magical presence in this city.

Hungry – pulling the most fierce, elegant, out of this world looks of any drag queen on the planet right now. Couture, queer as fuck, beyond earth perfectionist micro insectxual aesthetics.

 

Lyra: Soundcloud, Facebook, Instagram
Photography: Sylwana Zybura
Styling: Tomas C. Toth
Makeup & Hair: Nora Belovai
Text + interview: Gabriela Holesova, Anna Wim

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