Interview Lucie Silvas: “For the first time I made an album without borders or limits”

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Singer-songwriter Lucie Silvas had her big break in 2004 when her singles ‘What You’re Made Of’ and ‘Breathe In’ made a splash in the European charts. She played in the biggest venues supporting her second album in 2006, but then decided to pack her bags and leave for Nashville. In 2015 she finally released some new material, independently this time. Last month she returned to Europe for a tour and another album is planned for an early 2018 release. A Bit of Pop Music caught up with Lucie to chat about what happened in the past few years and the story behind new record E.G.O..

It has been almost ten years since you properly toured Europe. What happened in the meantime?
“After releasing my second album The Same Side I needed change. I experienced some major changes in my personal life and was ready for a new adventure. I wanted to travel and figure out what was going to make me happy next. Nashville was initially just one of the places I was planning to visit, but I fell in love with it. I had never seen anything like it. The close proximity of all the musicians was just incomparable to anything. At that time I focused on writing music for other artists and wasn’t planning to make another record myself. I was playing some shows and mainly meeting a whole bunch of new people. I met my husband John Osborne (Osborne Brothers) there and in order for our relationship to work I moved to Nashville in 2012. When I released the record Letters To Ghosts in 2015, people asked me why I wasn’t touring Europe with it. I was just happy I could put some music out and didn’t have big plans for it. I was without a label so it was hard to arrange a tour. I also wanted to immerse myself in my new hometown Nashville. I only recently started coming back to the UK and we are hoping to tour more here with the next record.”

Was it hard to start over in Nashville after having a big career in the UK and the Netherlands?
“It was in a lot of ways that I probably did not recognize at the time, but I think I was mostly excited about the new adventure. It felt more like starting in a new place than starting all over. I hardly ever talked about what I did in Europe. I do think of myself as a level-headed person. Although I am very proud of what I achieved, it is not always relevant in the here and now. At that time I was more intimidated by the talent that is around in Nashville and I wanted to learn from them.”

Is it easy to get to know people and make music together when you are new there?
“It is easy to meet people in bars, including some of the biggest songwriters you ever heard of. At the same time Nashville is a hard nosed industry just like anywhere else. Because it is such a friendly place you might think at first that it will be simpler there, but it is not. They have standards too of course so you still need the right attitude. For a career in Nashville you have to work your ass off!”

Why did it take you so long to release Letters To Ghosts?
“I had written a bunch of songs that I really liked, but had not decided yet what to with them. Then I met my manager Jon Leshay and he was like: “These songs are amazing, why aren’t you on stage doing something with them?” He helped me to properly focus on the project. I just went through a huge breakup, moved to another country and it took time to get my life back on track. You don’t realize how quick time passes until it has actually passed. Now that I feel completely at home in Nashville, I recorded another album relatively quick. It is called E.G.O. and is ready for release in 2018. It is funny how different periods in your life influence these processes.”

You had to do everything by yourself after being with a major label for a while. Was this hard?
“It is a liberating feeling to be able to work independently, but sometimes I still have days where I just want to quit. Financially it brings insecurities. It is more of a challenge to play gigs further from home especially if you want to bring a band. Still I’m grateful I now learned the things I had no idea about when I was with a label. You have all these people doing stuff for you. Now everything is for a reason and self-made. Nothing is contrived or taken for granted. I’d rather work with these challenges if that allows me to make something real.”

in Nashville I realize how lucky I am to be surrounded by artists all the time. When I was starting out with Breathe In, I did not know any other musicians who could tell me to stick up for what I stand for as an artist.

Did you have to compromise what you stand for in the past?
“I just wish I would have been stronger, not worrying about what other people were putting on me. As soon as another artist came out with a hit song, the people of the label want you to sound like that person and I did not understand why it was not enough to do my own thing. Your career, creativity and artistry are bigger than a hit single. I was young and naïve, but in Nashville I realize how lucky I am to be surrounded by artists all the time. When I was starting out with Breathe In, I did not know any other musicians who could tell me to stick up for what I stand for as an artist. I had to experience this on my own.”

What can we expect from E.G.O. in terms of sound?
“I’d say it sounds even more progressed. When I recorded Letters To Ghosts I was still thinking about the past and went from there. E.G.O. is influenced by Nashville, but also by what I loved listening to growing up, like Roy Orbison and Fleetwood Mac. Still it has got a very modern sound to it. There was nobody telling me what kind of album I should make. I want to take my music to the next level, as far as I can, but most importantly I recorded songs I like. For the first time I made an album without boundaries or limits. This the best work I could do and realizing that makes me come home feeling happy at night.”

Did that change the themes of your lyrics too?
“Lyrically I am in a different place now. I’m not talking about my past so much anymore. E.G.O. is more tongue in cheek. It is observational and talks about the fundamentals of human behaviour; the funniness of how we act and how most people are not very good studies of themselves, including myself. The title refers to how we are driven by our egos on a daily basis by posting on social media and how we crave attention. I’m as guilty as the next person for going on about how fame is bullshit and vapid, but wanting it at the same time. I like to think of the album as a case study.”

You did work with your husband John Osborne on Letters To Ghosts but not on E.G.O.. Was this a conscious decision?
“He was out on the road and I did not want to put pressure on him to make time for this project. We had a discussion about working together and concluded that it would be good for me to do something on my own, without him. It was healthy for our relationship to work separately. It made me independent again. We are so involved in the town we both live in and each other’s careers. Sometimes you need to stop and think: What would I do if I was on my own? What is my own thing again? It was liberating to do so.”

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