18 November 2019

Producer LYZZA talks self-worth, catharsis and mental health in the club scene

"Whatever I do is special, because I made it."

Brazilian DJ and producer Lysa da Silva, better known by stage name LYZZA, gained her first entry into production at the age of 16 by teaching herself Logic via online tutorials. Shortly after these DIY beginnings, she dropped Powerplay. Combining hardstyle kicks and hints of trance, as well as a guest spot from hyped London vocalist Shygirl, the singular release has since found its way onto the runway at Mugler’s SS20 PFW show. She followed up this club-ready release with 2018’s IMPOSTER; an EP that layered plaintive lyrics about anxiety and heartbreak over cracking drums. Away from the studio and in the club, she forged a name for herself on Amsterdam’s underground scene by running X3 — a party centring womxn, people of colour and the queer community — before becoming a resident at De School. 

As she gets older, she embraces a more confident and open musical style — as testified by forthcoming release DEFIANCE. Featuring production by Joe Goddard of Hot Chip fame and Tom McFarland of Jungle, it’s a poppier effort than anything we’ve seen from da Silva before. Taking the focus off the club and towards catharsis, she uses the lyrics to delve into the (often painful) inner workings of relationships. In anticipation of DEFIANCE’s release, she sits down with HUNGER to discuss creating a dialogue about mental health in the club scene, her unabashed love of pop music and the emotional catharsis of songwriting.

You moved to London from Amsterdam in the past year. Have you been able to become involved in the city’s club scene?

To be honest I don’t go out that much; if anything instead of changing, I’ve just been able to go out and resonate more with the sounds that get played in London. My favourite parties are the parties that have cryptic invites or are announced the day of. 

You previously dealt with themes of anxiety on your IMPOSTER EP – do you think there needs to be more of a conversation around mental health in the club scene?

I think so! I felt so crazy for so long because I didn’t understand how all these people were just going out and not feeling all these things I was feeling. Turns out a lot of people do. But you’ll never find out about that until you bring it up. 

DEFIANCE is a continuation of a process you started on Powerplay, where you’re emerging as a vocalist as well as a producer/DJ. What prompts you to include your own voice in these tracks rather than drafting in an external vocalist (like with Shygirl on “Take The L”)?

I’ve always liked singing/using my voice; so it’s only natural for me to use my voice on my projects as I have been ever since Powerplay. Voices are like instruments, and just like how some songs you’d rather add an electric guitar instead of an acoustic one; sometimes I just feel like my voice isn’t the right instrument for the track. But usually, it is!

DEFIANCE is a look at difficult relationships and the conflicting emotions that they can bring up. Why was it important to you to explore this perspective?

Because we as humans are so complex and everyone around us is complex. Nothing is black or white, it’s all just grey. I was in a grey area for a really long time where I needed to define whether certain situations or people were leaning more towards black or white. So I needed to explore that for the sake of myself and my own sanity. The title DEFIANCE represents that journey. That shedding of skin and coming out stronger; healed but never the same.

© Lois Cohen

‘Neverland’ features production from Joe Goddard and Tom McFarland, moving into poppier territory than what we’ve heard from you before. What’s prompted this stylistic shift?

I’ve always loved pop music! The first album I bought on iTunes was The Fame Monster by Lady Gaga. I guess when I was 17 and producing my first EP I was feeling super angsty, I wasn’t listening to anything that was commercial and felt the need to solidify myself as different. I wanted to make myself very ‘special’ because I probably didn’t feel that at all at the time. Now I’m more chill, realising that whatever I do is special because I made it.

It seems like DEFIANCE places more emphasis on you as a lyricist alongside being a producer — what’s your songwriting process like and how has it changed over the course of creating the new EP?

Writing is actually so therapeutic, there’s been many a time where I was working on music and was able to have a good cry and take all the thoughts out of my head and put them onto paper. I used to keep everything in; maybe I was ashamed to admit to myself how deeply I really felt. And then I just realised I want my music to be more at one with the world and have more people resonate with it. You can have very deep emotions and feelings and have them translated into something as simple as; “Tell me why oh why, does it hurt when I’m by your side?”

Apart from the release of DEFIANCE, what projects and performances do you have coming up that you are excited for?

I’m working on a collaborative EP in 2020 with a producer that definitely played a role in my music development/research/falling into the rabbit hole when I was younger! Super excited for the world to hear it.  Also, Nicolas Jaar curated me for a showcase of my new AV show which I’m also super stoked for, it’s going to be me performing my new EP for the first time in Amsterdam. Amsterdam has done so much for me even though I left it last year before working on the new record. Kind of a full-circle moment. 

Follow LYZZA on @lyzzalefteye and @girlpouts and catch her monthly slot, Intearnet Radio on NTS. DEFIANCE drops on 21 November; you can pre-order it here.

Words Megan Wallace
Cover image Lois Cohen

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