This is the first instalment of an interview series I hope to continue bi-weekly, where I interview up and coming artists, writers, musicians, poets (anything creative related) and delve into their mind a little bit so we can speak about their mental health. How they cope with it and how their artistry copes alongside it.
I spoke to Lucy DK about her music and her mental health:
So you’re an RnB artist? How long have you been making music for?
So I started writing songs when I was about 14, I was always into music but my early days it was very Taylor Swifty with my guitar and it wasn’t until uni that I started recording and working with a lot of hip hop and RnB artists that I really started developing my sound in that time period. It’s been a while but it still feels exciting and new.
You dropped the album waterlilies last year was it? I was listening to it and I got a lot of themes of inner beauty and self love, conflict with the people you love, support from the people you love. Could you tell us a bit about that?
Yeah, last year. I wrote so much of that project when I was at uni and really I feel like when you get down to each song it’s really all about all of these different relationships, and in the kind of early days of making the project I was like this is about all the people I’m dating and all these situationships, all of these things going on. Then when I kind of looked at it as a whole project I was like this is just about you. It shows. Yeah, like the ways that you’re kind of letting other people’s views of you or the ways that you need their attention and validation define who you are and how you see yourself. So I think a big part of what brought that project together was actually asking who am I and how can I see my own worth, in the midst of all these like messy and chaotic things going on.
It seems like you’re being seen by people which is a reflection of the songs you’re writing, the things you’re doing behind the scenes with all your work. How does it feel when you stop and realise you’re actually pursuing your passion?
It’s actually really nice to hear you say that because I think I struggle a lot with feeling like how can I balance all these facets of my life and how can I make sure that I do pursue my passion and put first the things that actually matter to me. I think I’ve gone through – like a lot of us creatives do, especially those of us who aren’t necessarily from money backgrounds – kind of getting to the point where I need to make money, I need a job, I need somewhere to live. How can I do that and look after myself whilst still knowing my purpose and putting as much energy as I possibly can into making my work and doing what I care about and kind of delivering that message. I think that’s been like my last couple of years where I’ve been like how you say building my career and grinding, it’s a lot of work and it’s a lot on top of other stuff too. It’s been difficult but I think what kind of keeps me doing it is that there isn’t like another option, this is my way of expressing myself. This is your path, it’s how you get your message out there. Yeah and it’s like I would always do music even if nobody could hear it, so I think when you have that it’s kind of a nice grounding point, you’re like this work is always going to exist, I’m always going to be writing whether other people are going to see it or not.
During lockdown I’ve seen that you’ve still been pumping out work and keeping active on social media, I know a lot of people that have taken a backseat during the lockdown because it’s mentally draining, taking on yourself is one thing but taking on the entire internet is a completely different story.
The internet is fucking scary man. For real. I definitely feel like I took a bit of a time out, not from creating or music but from the internet side for a little bit. Now I’m gearing up for a new project for summer and so I’m gearing up to release my new work. Getting myself back out there, it sounds like I’m on a dating app or something. Sometimes you don’t realise how much energy that also takes too, like oh wow, there were a couple of months where I wasn’t really updating my story and now that I’m doing it again I’m like oh my god, this feels good. But yeah I love it, I do think as well there is the flip side of feeling like it is a personal way of connecting with other people and I think in terms of mental health I had a really rough and down period, I think being able to talk about that and share some of that not necessarily when you’re in it because the last thing I want to do is go on Instagram. You do need that line in the sand. But then I think when I’m feeling on my game and feeling a bit better and I’m like actually, what about this experience can I share that might be useful to someone who might be going through the same thing, looking at it now that could actually resonate, because I think the more energy and the more of yourself you can give out in those moments, I’ll do it and I’ll take advantage because I know the times when I’m not feeling it I won’t.
Mental health has the biggest stigma in our industry. It affects the artists, the producers, the people behind the cameras and the people in front of them. When we have stigma surrounding topics like these we always have people who are trying to break down these walls and create a space allowing people to talk and actually help. I see that on your Instagram you do a Sunday Service, could tell us a bit about that too?
So this started kind of during lockdown actually, I’d moved back to London and the last few years I’d been living in the US and had just come back to London and it was this moment of just feeling like we’re in the middle of a pandemic, I can’t really see anyone, I don’t really have a crowd in London, I was coming back and trying to reconnect with these old friends but I didn’t have those people I was super tight with. I’d also just ended a relationship before I left. There was just all of this stuff I was dealing with, I think just being here suddenly in my own bedroom I was feeling quite lonely and not knowing how to really create those connections and conversations that I wanted to have, especially when I can’t go outside and can’t really be doing my normal stuff like being social and active. It was quite a grounding thing for me, it started as every Sunday I’m going to do this, even if I’m not feeling great or been feeling really bad through-out the week. I know that this thing is going to happen, just having that felt super useful. Each Sunday I would basically have a conversation with somebody I was either close to and love or respected just from afar, someone I thought would have something interesting to say. Each week there would kind of be a theme we would discuss, and it really worked. Sometimes I would just be feeling super shit and knowing I was getting on Instagram live, and I feel like that performance helped. In all of our lives we’re kind of like performing in different ways, at different moments. Performing for work and all of that, sometimes it’s a bit toxic but with this it was super, actually having to get out of bed and actually do it. Making a conscious effort to do it must be liberating. Fully yeah, it was actually super good, I’m glad I did it! It’s called “Bitch, that’s my kind of worship!” I think I’m going to do a second season maybe sometime next year.
What advice could you give to the people in our community struggling to create that balance between staying focused and grounded in your work whilst also maintaining a healthy mental state?
I think the most useful thing I had this year and it was actually my therapist who said it to me, I was talking about how stressed I was about everything in terms of creating, everything I was doing, just music in general feeling like I only had so much time in the day and so much to do. It was like my entire purpose, so I felt like I couldn’t rest because I felt like I had to be doing that any spare moment. Something she said that really stuck with me was “I think you need to recognise what you’re doing is quite hard,” she wasn’t saying do less, “all of these things that you’re telling me you need to do,” she was like “yes, you kind of need to do them,” you’re on this track and these are important things and you care about them, and that’s great, it’s a period in your life where you’re wanting to work and wanting to grind on this and it brings you joy, but take a step back and realise that it’s hard. The way that I was really talking about stuff was like everyone is doing this, why am I struggling to carry all of this? I think what a lot of creatives don’t do enough is give themselves the grace of realising that being a creative in this world is really tough. Our world is not setup to support creativity in the way it supports other things. Like more academic stuff. Yeah, like capitalism and stuff in general, there are a lot of people who have to have proper job and focus on family life and that’s totally fine I’m not shading that in any way, but when you’re doing that and also trying to create you know? Even when you’re doing creative jobs full time there’s so much uncertainty, you’re freelancing and sometimes people don’t pay you, there’s so much that’s riding on you as an individual, as an artist, a creator. It’s almost like you’re managing all of these parts, there’s not this set route for you, but you do it because it’s useful and creativity is one of the things that makes this world worth living in but recognise that it’s tricky. Just let yourself sit in that and see that what you’re doing is hard.
If you could say one thing to your younger self, knowing what you know now, what would it be?
Oh, great question. I would say speak up, I was always a super shy child and didn’t feel very empowered to be a voice in the room. I think in one way that ended up being like quite beautiful, music ended up being my own place that was so precious and so important because this is where I can speak, but I think now that I’m older and I feel more self-assured and know myself better… I look back at my younger self and say you’re doing good, you’re okay, you just didn’t say much. I would say use your voice, know that it’s important and that it matters.
I reached out to Lucy DK after coming across her music on Instagram, she wasted no time getting back to me and letting me know that she was more than happy to have a conversation like this. Lucy was very real with me about the scope of her mental health and how it feeds in to the music she creates. Hopefully you all felt even just a glimpse of what I had the pleasure of feeling when learning more about her.
Checkout her new single Queen Bed and her previous album Waterlilies, you won’t be disappointed I promise. Thank you again Lucy!
A 23 year old writer, from fictional short stories to poetry and song writing. I enjoy making articles about modern culture, the way it affects our brains and creative lifestyles – how we can learn from it, what I’ve learned from it so far.