Music

An interview with LYAM, the voice of London’s underground music scene

After the recent release of his first single Intermission, HUNGER talks to LYAM about his East London roots, the TTY community and his highly anticipated mixtape.

LYAM, real name Liam Harris, is the enigmatic individual making an impact throughout London’s underground music scene. Harris is a sound design artist and songwriter, he is also one of the founding members of the music community TTY (The The Youth).

TTY is an independent artist network which has blossomed into a community for underground visual artists and musicians, TTY is an institution with the potential to offer limitless collaborations to creatives. The community has had a residency show on NTS Radio and recently dropped its debut project, Cry But Go, with The Young Turks – The same record label as The XX and FKA Twigs.

Harris grew up in East London, and from an early age was surrounded with vibrant music from listening to his mum’s record collection to his Dj’ing uncles and backing singer cousin. Intermission is influenced by the ‘sound culture’ from Harris’s Jamaican heritage and the lo-fi techno heard in clubs like Corsica Studios.

Intermission is an introduction of what’s to come from Harris’s awaited debut mixtape, set to be released later this year.

Scroll down to see what Liam has to say to HUNGER and watch his new music video for Intermission.

Hey Liam, could you give me a brief introduction to yourself and your background?

Grew up as just another Black British Jamaican boy from east London I suppose. I wouldn’t say I grew up in a music-making family, but they were enthusiasts for sure (most of us island folk are). My memories are vibrant and loud; uncles DJ’ing, my cousin a backing singer, church choirs and all that. All of this I pour back into my work, both graphic and sound design.

 

What music did you grow up around?

A lot. My first introductions came solely from my mother. She had a deep record collection spanning from Mary J Blige, TLC, The Yellow Magic Orchestra to Earth Wind and Fire. I didn’t miss out to the say the least.

 

What excites you most about making music?

I don’t want my music to be too pre-meditated, I need freedom to find or fall into whatever it is. Approaching music as sound design in that sense, feels limitless.

Top three musicians that have shaped you?

I’m not sure which musicians could say have shaped me directly. I feel more built out of my conscience and DNA, things I can’t help but be. Some artists still thrive in that way, channelling a strong sense of nostalgia. There’s such a variety of music in my world however, I need space for diversity and range. If its music I like to listen to I actually put up a playlist you can listen to here.

 

What can we expect from your full mixtape?

It’s a long overdue album, but you can expect the unexpected.

How important are collectives like TTY to underground music in London at the moment?

Communities are important. Especially those less visible who have something to say, so if its in underground music so be it. Musicians can be as private or collective as they please, their music emerges and effects the world either way. TTY is more of a community, a network of artists that come and go, contributing as they please.

 

Do you think intuitions like NTS radio are key for underground artists like yourself in such a competitive industry dominated by mainstream outlets?

I see these lines starting to blur. Mainstream outlets do tower over us but it’s still a sick time for alternative music, despite having a longer road to travel. The music industry doesn’t have the power they did before the ‘digital first’ world we’re now living in. With things like NTS, Balamii etc, if it celebrates independent artistry and brings people together, it’s probably doing some good.

For your track ‘Intermission’, were there any prominent artists that influenced it?

It’s more those spaces and experiences that influenced Intermission. My guy OEML produced it with me and he’s a whole world on his own, It’s a personal track so I couldn’t say any other music influenced it consciously, we literally just sat down and chopped shit up.

 

Any other plans for the near future?

More music, more visuals. Now that I’m finally releasing music and pieces from my archive, I’m just looking forward to seeing it all unravel. Then putting together the shows especially, there’s so much more to consider. Getting back to reinventing again, hopefully back in the motherland and experiencing the world more.

Scroll down to watch the music video for LYAM’s new single Intermission.

9 July 2019