Great things are expected of Lucie Silvas this year.
The 27-year-old singer/songwriter has waited patiently for her breakthrough, and it arrived on two fronts for her in 2004 – performing and writing.
Her songs were picked up by Liberty X, Rachel Stevens and Michelle McManus, while she found herself on stage with Elton John at a recent Ivor Novello tribute.
Life wasn’t always as sweet as it is now for Lucie Silvas – those music television watchers among you may remember some heavy rotation for the song It’s Too Late five years ago, a track that limped into the UK charts at number 62. So why the difference this time? “I think timing is the most specific answer, it has a lot to do with how you place things. I also think the music’s gotten better now, I’ve developed a lot since then.”
Like many of her peers, Silvas uses intensely personal subject matter. “It happens instinctively, because it’s stuff that’s on your mind. It’s not just about the writing of the song, it’s something you feel from within you. When you’re co-writing you can also take on board someone else’s feelings and emotions.”
Lucie has co-written with Gary Barlow, for whom she was briefly a backing singer, and the pair are still firm friends. “I just happened to fit the profile of what he wanted at the time, but I wasn’t there for long. We did a lot of writing together though, and did a song that somehow ended up with Michelle McManus. He’s a lovely guy, really humble and down to earth. I think so much was expected of him at the time he went solo that he really felt the pressure, but now he’s settled with his family, doing loads of production work and writing, so he’s really happy.”
“I was half in awe, half crapping myself!.”
- Lucie Silvas on sharing a stage with Elton John.
Moving on from Barlow’s domestic bliss, we talk about Lucie’s upbringing. She was on the piano by the age of five, although she claims it was just “banging it with a spoon! Our parents encouraged us all to play music, and my sister does backing vocals for me at the moment. I couldn’t read music though, and still can’t very well, so it’s a case of learning everything by ear for me, memorising the music.”
Such a technique came into force when Lucie performed Your Song with Elton John at the Ivor Novello tribute recently. “I listened to it again and again to pick it up. It was such a great experience. We were on after Mary J. Blige, so I was half in awe of her, half crapping myself! I was playing with one of my idols and performing one of the most personal songs he’s ever written. It was a huge boost for me, one of those moments where I realised I could do it.”
Silvas has resolved this year to “have as much self belief as possible, enjoy what I do and appreciate it while it lasts”, also revealing “I had to keep giving myself pep talks last year, saying that I could do it!”
“You either want to be an artist or write for other people – it’s very difficult to be both.”
- Lucie on her former career as songwriter-for-hire.
She remains in demand as a songwriter, but while she enjoys the challenge there’s no doubt her own singing career is the priority. “You either want to be an artist or write for other people, it’s very difficult to be both.” Lucie agrees “It’s harder to write for someone else, because a lot of songs for other people aren’t directly to do with their experiences. Jumpin’ (the Liberty X song) wasn’t a problem from that point of view, it was just a party song. The track Michelle used wasn’t anything to do with me, so you don’t connect with it as much”.
Silvas covers Metallica‘s Nothing Else Matters on the album, but hasn’t yet had a reaction from the band. Is she a rock chick at heart then? “Ha, well I do love all that – Linkin Park, Rage Against The Machine. I love rocking it up a bit, and when we go on tour we really go for it, step it up more.
Silvas’ other current faves are Jamie Cullum (“he blew me away live!”) and Keane (“so melodic!”). “There was a time when British music was paling in comparison to what was abroad, but we could take them all on now!” It’s a positive way to end, as Silvas looks forward to her musical year with understandable optimism.
Lucie Silvas – The Same Side
Interview – Lucie Silvas
Lucie Silvas @ Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London