Lyves is the musical alias of London based singer, songwriter and producer Francesca Bergami. After contemplating a career in music, she instead studied psychology and worked in psychiatry and working as a mental health advocate before returning to her first passion, making music. Both Holding Back and the current single Cover Me were released with PRSF funding, as Lyves was recently awarded their ‘Women Make Music’ grant. We caught up with this exciting new artist to find out more.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. What’s the story behind Lyves and how would you describe your sound?
Hi! I’m a singer/songwriter/producer based in London. It’s always been my dream to make music. I wrote poetry and sung as a teenager but decided to study Psychology after leaving school. This led to a career in mental health where I didn’t really do any singing for years – I just obsessively listened to music which in turn reignited a powerful desire to create again. I bought my first synthesizer 8 years ago and haven’t really looked back. The plan was to make instrumental electronic music but once I started using my voice again the songs slowly formed and trickled out. It’s been both a challenging and inspiring journey – from not knowing one note on a keyboard to very slowly learning to produce. I wouldn’t change it for the world though! 🙂 I’d probably describe my sound as alternative soul but really, it’s hard to belong to any one genre. My influences range from Enya, to Tupac, Moby, Philip Glass, Bill Withers, James Blake, Lauryn Hill to Frank Ocean. I suppose one common thread is it feels like the music they create is heartfelt and emotive. I love raw, honest, cathartic music that really moves through you.
What motivates you and inspires your music, aesthetic and vibe?
Human connection and emotion. Love. Film. Dramatic imagery. The spiritual world. Dreams. Water in its various forms and stories of resilience.
You changed career from working in psychiatry to making music – what inspired that change in life direction?
I’ve always wanted to help others and to somehow contribute to bettering other people’s lives. Working as an independent mental health advocate meant that I could support patients’ views to be heard. An advocate supports vulnerable people to receive the level of care and support they need through ensuring their thoughts and feelings are voiced and respected. I’m incredibly passionate about supporting those in need and will fight tirelessly against any injustice I see. Psychiatry was a way I felt I could contribute. I was writing music on the side and it was a natural and organic progression to move towards doing it full time. Things progressively got busier with music and I made a choice to delve into it completely. I’ve always given myself fully to what I do. My greatest hope is that I can connect and give back to others in some way though my music.
What kind of feedback do you get about your sound? I hear echoes of the great female soul singers from the 60s and 70s in your voice, whilst the music is firmly rooted in the present, albeit with a classical flavour.
Thank you, that’s a huge compliment! I’m a big fan of soul music from that era. Vocally I’m definitely inspired by soul and classic R&B. Bill Withers and Sam Cooke are some of my favourite singers from that time. Production wise I’m very much rooted in a more contemporary electronic sound. I grew up listening to a lot of dance music and that’s probably inspired the way I produce. I try to trust my instinct as much as I can when writing rather than following a particular sound.
The feedback I’ve receive about my music so far is touching and heart-warming. It’s hard to fully articulate the gratitude I feel about it. I’ve had people write the most beautiful and personal messages about how it made them feel. It means everything to me to hear people’s thoughts and it’s amazing how diligent people are in terms of understanding the feelings behind the songs. Better than myself at times!
Could you tell us a bit more about your most recent single, Cover Me?
Sure! Cover Me was actually written 3 years ago but ended up a lost, unfinished demo. I had an mp3 of it on my desktop and clicked on it completely by accident a few months ago. Hearing it again brought strong memories and feelings about that particular time. I decided to finish it alongside Will Night who co-produced it with me. We recorded live drums and new elements which gave it a new life. It’s one of my favourites to perform live!
What’s up next for Lyves? Any upcoming gigs, new releases on the horizon, other projects?
I’m currently working on an exciting collaboration and will be dropping a new song before the end of the year. I’m also writing my first album at the moment which is incredibly exciting! Hopefully some more shows in early 2018 too 🙂
Photo by Claudia Sangiorgi Dalimore