Lyra McNamara, who grew up in Bandon, is enjoying major success with her singing/songwriting career. And as she jets between Cork, the UK and the US, recording with top industry producers and movie makers, she’s not taking a single second of it for granted
SINGER/songwriter Lyra McNamara credits her Bandon granny with her rising stardom which has top LA and Nashville producers inviting her Stateside to write for them.
Lyra, who grew up in Bandon, puts her breakthrough in the notoriously tough industry down to the late Kitty.
The 26-year-old recalls how her song Emerald, which was inspired by her gran, was the one that got her noticed by the movers and shakers in the industry.
And she says she feels Kitty is helping her as she has success with things like recording a TV ad for Guinness and being invited by David Guetta to his song-writing camp.
Casting her mind back to 2016 Lyra says: ‘I came home from England when Nan got sick and myself and my sister Sarah moved into her house to nurse her. It wasn’t a hard choice, she reared us, and I knew I’d always have my singing. If Nan didn’t get sick the truth is that Emerald might not be here and that was the biggest turning point in my life so she’s played a massive role in my career.’
It’s been a slow and steady climb for Lyra (who was christened Laura) who has been ‘singing forever and a day.’
She moved with her mum Ann (nee Brophy of Bandon) to Rochestown when she was in her late teens and after school she studied music in the UK.
After writing Emerald she decided to put it up on Sound Cloud just to ‘see how people would react.’
What followed was being randomly contacted by a management agency in London and given a three-single deal with Polydor and Universal Records which prompted her to ‘get serious about things.’
Her first single was Falling, and just last month that was followed by Never Let Go.
She hasn’t decided what her third will be just yet but as a prolific writer, she has lots of material to choose from. These are busy times for the young woman who was in LA last month for two weeks, having been invited over by industry producers.
‘I basically went into the studio with a few producers over there and wrote loads of songs – two of which I’m really excited about.
‘And I’m off to Nashville on June 9th where I’ll spend a week writing music for movies and a week writing for myself.’
As if all that wasn’t enough, Lyra (who played in the Marquee last year) had a headline show in Cyprus Avenue in Cork and in Grand Social in Dublin at the end of last month.
She’s incredibly grateful for where she is in life right now.
‘I’m shocked, lucky and so grateful that this has happened for me. There are people out there who work just as hard and who never get the breaks. This is what I’ve always wanted to do – it’s not something I just fell into and as long as I’m in the industry I’m happy.’
Lyra lived in London initially when she moved to the UK and is now based in Brighton. ‘I just have to live beside the sea – I do a lot of my writing at home. I’ve a little studio in my spare room, so it helps,’ she says.
Lyra previously wrote every other day but now feels her best songs come about when she puts less pressure on herself.
She recently broke up with her UK boyfriend of several years and, just like Adele, found heartbreak to be a rich source of inspiration.
She plays the guitar, piano drums and even the bodhrán, but not on stage where she doesn’t do choreographed dances admitting she ‘can’t’ dance to save her life.’
Describing her style as ‘dark but with a commercial edge’ her work has been used a lot for synching on TV shows. Emerald was used in RTE’s drama Striking Out starring Amy Huberman, as well as Teen Wolf in the US, Made in Chelsea and Towie. One of her songs was also considered as a sync for Fifty Shades of Grey.
And this week Falling was featured on an episode of ITV’s Love Island.
In such an image-led industry, Lyra admits to feeling pressures to look a certain way when she started out, but is now far more comfortable in her own skin.
‘I filmed my latest video the day after I came back from LA where I had eaten so many tacos and had so many spicy margaritas and I remember trying things on and having five minutes where I just felt horrific.
‘But you know, I had such a cracking time in LA that I thought “who cares?!” I never want to be so skinny and for girls to look at me and think they should look like that. When I started out first I was conscious of what I ate and started going to the gym but I wasn’t enjoying myself. I realise now that talent is not a physical thing. My passion is writing songs and singers come in every shape and form.’ The main thing for her now is that she’s doing what she loves and being able to make a living from it.
‘This time last year I’d never have thought that producers in LA and Nashville would be ringing me up.
‘Right now I’m just enjoying every minute as I know it could be taken off me at any moment.’