Analogue Music | Lydia Luce

Lydia Luce

By Matt Conner

It's clear Lydia Luce has found a path toward healing.

As the talented singer-songwriter detailed the last few years of challenges for us, from a tornado that hit her East Nashville home to the pandemic to a back injury that's kept her from playing guitar, Luce speaks it all as lessons learned about control. In the end, knowing that nothing is truly in her grasp, she's learned to refer to it all as a "beautiful surrender."

That's an inspiring way to describe the last few years, but walking through such trials has required a lot of courage on her part and help from her community. The same elements were also what helped her craft Florida Girl, Luce's lovely new album filled with introspective lyrics and psychedelic flourishes. It's a well-considered work and one that deserves a bigger platform.

We recently sat down with Luce to hear more about the journey to make Florida Girl and the ways in which her relationship with music has changed in that span of time.

Analogue: This record feels like the sort of recording that required a lot of time. I like the flourishes and fixtures. It all just feels very considered over time, and that made me wonder if that’s an apt description at all of what was going on behind the scenes.

Lydia Luce: Yeah, definitely. It took us two years to record this. I recorded this with two of my close friends and longtime collaborators: Aaron Steele and Anthony da Costa, who I’m a big fan of musically. We didn’t really have a timeframe. We all kinda came together when we could, and I was writing while we were in process. So it wasn’t like I knew I was writing a record or that we had to have these certain songs. It was more like, ‘Hey guys, I wrote a new song and I think it’ll fit with what we’re doing. Do you wanna record it?’ Everything felt very free with no parameters.

Putting them all together, the idea of having them flow together seamlessly into each other was awesome. We loved the idea and wanted to create this flow. I wouldn’t call it a conceptual record, but it is, in a sense, a conceptual record because of the connective-ness of it. It’s all one entity and I’d never made a record like that.

I’d also never made a record the way we made this one where it just flowed and where it was very intuitive. I’m used to making records in Nashville. Normally I do pre-production for a week. Then you get together with these musicians and hire a producer and block out studio time. Everything is so meticulously planned out, but this wasn’t like that at all. It was more like, ‘Oh, I think I know what we’re making now.’

It was what I needed for this period of time. I don’t know if I’ll do it like this the next time, but I’m usually a control freak in life and I’m trying to break free of that. So this record felt like an introduction to breaking free. I’m really enjoying it.

Analogue: Is that what you meant when you said you needed that?

Lydia: Yeah, I think I’ve needed the lesson of realizing that I’m not in control lately. Or really, the lesson has been presented to me in a number of ways, but I’ve been trying to control so much of my life and things in my life—music or whatever—and the last couple of years have been this recurring theme of learning there’s nothing that we can really control. From the pandemic to my house getting hit by a tornado, there have been these huge reminders that nothing is really in our control.

Analogue: So it’s personal or professional or both?

Lydia: It’s all of it. One of the themes on this record I’ve talked a bit more about publicly lately is about the eating disorders I’ve lived with my entire life, really. When I started to do a lot of work on that during COVID, I knew I needed community and help for it and I stumbled into this group of women from Florida. It was there I found a sponsor and she helped me see how much of this was about trying to control my life. A lot of eating disorders stem from feeling out of control so you want to control your body or what you eat or how much you exercise. Without my knowledge of it, that was me trying to grasp any sort of control over me or my life.

This May, I found out I had a herniated disc and I’d had some injuries that have kept me from playing. I couldn’t just fix it or control that. So it’s all sort of forced me to release it all and just say, ‘All right, here I am.’ Since I couldn’t pay guitar, I had to hire somebody. I’ve had to learn to keep doing the things I love in a new way and reframe so much of my life right now. So it’s all lessons in control and release and acceptance over the last three years. It’s all come to a head with this record, in a sense.

"I’ve had to learn to keep doing the things I love in a new way and reframe so much of my life right now."

Analogue: I’d assume that music would be cathartic to help you process some of these new truths or ideas, but if music itself is a part of the lessons learned—or that you can’t control it, too—then does that change what music means to you in this time? Does that complicate your relationship with it?

Lydia: Totally, and hearing you say that made me say, ‘Oh, yeah!’ I just found out that playing guitar is what was hurting me the most, so I’m still processing a lot of that. Then I got home from this long tour when I was in so much pain and was truly miserable doing the very thing I loved. I was supposed to be making a record in July but I came off tour and cancelled everything. I knew I had to sit with my body and heal.

And it’s been another element of losing control. Usually, I like to write by myself a lot of the time on guitar. That’s the only instrument I write with. So it’s forced me to try to learn piano with my little carpal tunnel braces on or to ask friends if they want to co-write a song. It’s forced me to ask for help in ways that I’ve never asked for it before. It’s definitely been difficult to write through all of it, but I’ve also found a new therapist, so I’m finding ways to process all of this while it’s happening.

When I got home from tour, I thought I was going to quit. I was so miserable. But now I realize I can ask for help and still do this. It’s been such a beautiful surrender, really.

VISIT: Lydia Luce

*Photo: Zachary Gary