Originality and self production. An interview with LAMIA (Ellie Griffiths) @ Live at Leeds 2017
Lamia, in Greek mythology, was a beautiful queen transformed as a punishment from the Gods into a child-eating, serpentine demon. A modern-day, seemingly unassuming and non-demonic LAMIA (pronounced lah-meer, as opposed to lam-ear) in Ellie Griffiths, sits next to me and explains what so drew her to that name.
Ellie: (Lamia, as presented in a poem by John Keats based on the mythological character) trades a secret so she can become a woman, but she's not actually a woman, she's like.. the idea of a woman. Things go wrong because people think she's real and she's not and I just really liked it because it was about like..chasing this idea of who you are or who you want to be, but it's always in your imagination. (The story) resonates with how I think.
She talks about being interested in the idea of fantasy, reality vs hyper-reality and the idea of "things not really being real but also being real...being a simulation of the real." "The idea overriding the truth.. that's what I'm interested in, and what a lot of my music is about" she says.
To illustrate the idea she uses the example of the (false) perception one may have of another person influencing their feelings and behaviour more than the other person's true character; and the reverse - having to "live up to" the fantasy someone else has of you.
On the subject of the skewed perception of others, we discuss a line from her song "Wounded Pride":
"I cannot compete with the version that you saw of me / which left you with a sourness against me".
Ellie explains how, for her, music is about expressing and exploring who she is, her thoughts and the way she feels about certain situations.
We continue to talk about lyrics and the idea off false perception and a line from her song entitled "Not Mine" comes to my mind, a line which I love for its brazen honesty and attitude which to me says "I don't owe you anything."
"I'm not giving up / I just don't want you enough"
I ask, on a hunch, whether some of her songs illustrate post-break up self-defense.
Ellie: Nailed it. Those two songs ("Wounded Pride" and "Not Mine") are written about a similar situation. Actually, when I sing them or when I perform them, I imagine I'm in that place..like.. where the events..
*She looks sheepish*
Zoe: Is it a conscious idea to go back to that place?
Ellie: It just kind of happens.
That morning I had watched her set at Headrow House. She seemed slightly nervous and seeing as it was only her second time performing as LAMIA, this was understandable. I thought her performance was beautiful, dynamic and deeply engaging, the nerves giving a sense of vulnerability which if anything added to the intensity of the performance. She spoke of the relief of letting songs "breathe" (performing them to a live audience), after having spent so long working on them alone. Truly alone, as Ellie produces her own music, having taught herself how using YouTube tutorials after being told that she should "stop wasting (her) time producing because (she) was a singer and a songwriter." Her reaction, to me, seems to be a revelation rooted in feminism.
Ellie: For like four months I was like "oh why am I bothering? I'm not gonna be good enough to produce myself." Then I got really angry. I was like "No! F*** you."...The music industry is very male dominated especially when it comes to production. Electronic music - it's very much a boys' club, so I really wanted people to see that anyone is quite capable. I was just so bored of relying on other people. It was a turning point for me.
I asked how she felt about her voice having been described online as "moody".
Ellie: Really? *she laughs* I dunno! I've worked very hard to create my own sound in terms of my vocals so because you can't really pinpoint them as to who it sounds like people just use generic terms...which is much better! I'd rather someone said "LAMIA sounds moody" than "LAMIA sounds like Florence and the Machine" or something.
I think in describing a voice as "moody" people mean Jazz influenced, a statement with which I'd agree, but "moody" to me evokes the idea of defiance, whilst her lyrics could certainly be defined that way, I'd I'd sooner describe her voice as "dreamy." When asked the dreaded question of genre, Ellie claims to side predominantly with Dark Electronica but her self-produced beats can also be considered Trip-Hop.
In both her production style and aversion to being compared to others, the extent to which she values originality and creative independence is made clear.
Ellie: It's about having your own sound. I think it's important to be original, as much as you can. I always find it disappointing when I listen to artists and I think, "that just sounds exactly like someone else." I've worked really hard to like..make sure I'm myself - and I know that sounds weird - "working hard at being yourself", but a lot of it is confidence and believing in what you do and the more you do it, the more that people kind of catch on.
LAMIA will soon be releasing a new music video for the track "Not Mine" and I'm looking forward to seeing how her originality and interest in hyper-reality will manifest in visual art.
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