Newcastle artist Ruth Lyon found herself feeling like crap every time Vogue magazine dropped onto her front door mat, yet still she didn’t cancel her subscription. Even as the pages prodded at insecurities, and touted physical flawlessness and assimilation as the model to strive towards, there was something strangely addictive about mindlessly flipping through it every month.
“The music industry’s the same — it’s so built upon perfection, and you have to strive to fit into these tiny boxes where people will accept you,” says Lyon. “You have to be this age, this gender, this weight, this colour. But still we wanna do it, which is crazy.”
The situation inspired the title of her second EP, Direct Debit To Vogue. It encapsulated a lot of the themes she was drawing upon in the songs; self-doubt, insecurity, emotional masochism, the weight of arbitrary expectations. All of this is unravelled through offbeat, sophisticated chamber pop and anti-folk, commanded by Lyon’s soulful vocals and witty yet raw lyricism. Following her 2021 debut EP Nothing’s Perfect, it’s a blooming of her musical personality. Multiple singles from the EP found their way onto Spotify editorial playlists such as New Music Friday, Fresh Finds and national press has included the likes of Line Of Best Fit, Secret Meeting, The Independent and Wonderland Magazine.
Lyon grew up in North Yorkshire, before moving to Newcastle to study Fashion Design at Northumbria University. Meanwhile, she began fronting the folk rock outfit Holy Moly & The Crackers, with which she has toured the UK and Europe extensively, plus soundtracked the end credits of Ocean’s 8 with the track “Cold Comfort Lane”.
Over the years, she’s established herself as a key and active member of the Newcastle music scene, including in her role on the board of trustees at Sage Gateshead. “Because there isn’t a lot of industry up here, it can feel like you have to move to London to be successful,” she says. “But I’m really proud of the musicians that are trying to make it so we can be established, we can be successful and we can make good art in the North.” She has also advocated for the Disabled community in her work as an ambassador for Attitude Is Everything, a charity that aims to improve accessibility for Deaf and Disabled people in live music; Lyon herself has been a wheelchair user since the age of 21. With the EP receiving warm support from regional and national radio, Ruth has also been interviewed on Radio 1 speaking on the new music, her artistic journey as well as her advocacy roles.
She began developing her solo music in 2020, when she was invited to be Artist in Residence at Sage Gateshead. Soon after came lockdown, and while she was shielding, she slowly built a new musical identity from the confines of her bedroom. “I wanted to go back to the source,” she says. “I started writing songs again for piano and strings, the kind of instruments that really move me. I love being in a party folk rock band where everyone’s dancing around, but the music that really speaks to me is more piano-based, melancholic, and dramatic.”
Speaking to the EP Direct Debit to Vogue as a whole, she explains, “I want it to be very inclusive, like anybody could listen to any of the songs and come up with their own story, or it would mirror their individual circumstances,” she says. “I wanted to evoke the feeling of the kinda music that just punches you in the gut. Rather than ‘oh, this is pretty, this is nice’ — I want to emotionally drag some stuff out of people.” She concludes Direct Debit to Vogue’s journey with four simple words: “I’ve found my voice.”
🎧 Listen to Ruth Lyon on Spotify
What is Foundry?
FOUNDRY is a residency opportunity at Sage Gateshead which makes our Sage Two performance space available to artists for 4 days of intensive development and rehearsal time, handing the venue over to musicians making new work in an unprecedented way.