It’s set to be an exciting year for singer-songwriter Beth Lowen, who goes by the name LION, with a hotly anticipated festival run and a new single, ‘Second Hand’, recently being released.
Annie Zykova sat down to talk to Beth about her career so far, and what we can expect from upcoming music.
What got you into music?
I think it was just always there - my household growing up was just full of music. It was just something that was always there.
So were your parents musical then?
Yeah, my dad’s an entertainer; he does comedy and is also a musician. Mum is a good drunk singer.
In terms of your artistic influences, what artists and genres influenced you the most?
I think it massively varies - I was brought up on music such as Fleetwood Mac, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, that kind of thing. Just being an indie kid in the 2000s played a big role: Nirvana, Arctic Monkeys, The Maccabees and everything else in between, such as Jeff Buckley and Damien Rice. I basically listened to every piece of music ever. I generally think I listened to everything apart from the absolute extremes like gangster rap and heavy metal.
Do you think you consciously incorporate little bits of what you used to hear or do you think it just naturally comes out?
I think it just naturally comes out. I think it’s definitely in your subconscious. I think it definitely depends on who I’m listening to at the time.
Do you think your tastes fluctuate then?
Yeah, I can go through a mad two months of just solid Radiohead and then won’t listen to Radiohead for ages. And then to the next, and the next…
What is the origin of your name exactly?
Well, I wanted to call myself something different, and I was always told I had a lion’s mane because of my big hair. My surname is Lowen and originates from the German Löwe, which means ‘lion’ in German. So I said f**k it, I’ll call myself ‘LION’.
Despite having travelled a lot in your early career, why did you decide to settle in London?
Basically because there’s a creative body there; everyone seems to gravitate towards London. There’s a lot music and art in London so it just seemed the right place to be. I think North London has amazing venues such as the Camden Assembly, but I live in South London so that’s home for me.
I read an article saying that your EP was ‘equal parts Florence Welch and The White Stripes’. What do you think about that?
I think it’s a fat compliment really. I was shocked. They’re both so f**king amazing. My live shows until recently were just with my brother so I guess that’s mainly where The White Stripes idea comes from. But then I guess I’m a howling female so that’s why they compared me to Florence.
How did you find working with your brother?
It’s good to have a member of the family because you have that special bond. Obviously, you are in a band with your sibling so you still drive each other up the walll but that’s just standard isn’t it? I recommend it. I think it’s useful having someone who you very much trust completely, and can therefore give you constructive criticism.
You said you wrote the song ‘Fiction’ about “being lied to and how obvious it can be when someone is lying”. I find this very compelling. If it’s not too personal a question, would you mind elaborating on what inspired you to write about this theme?
I have a friend who I love dearly, but tells a little too many white lies, though many other people do the same too. We all do it, and that’s the weird thing. We all tell porkies every once in a while, but when people are obviously lying, it just gets to the point when you wonder whether they don’t see that everyone can see they’re lying. It’s just so obvious. It has both personal and political undertones - I wrote it very near the time of Brexit. I mean, could you spot any more lying than during that campaign? The media is just forever lying, it’s not a question of who is lying, but who isn’t lying.
What would you say is the biggest challenge you have had to overcome in your musical career?
It’s probably finishing a song. I think you can never really be finished. I can keep picking things out daily that I would like to change, but there needs to come a point when you have to put it to bed and move on. You are your biggest critic, but you also shouldn’t be too hard on yourself, and you need to be able to eventually just say, ‘good job, well done’.
Would you like to collaborate with another artist in the future? If so, who with?
I love collaborating in general, but at the minute I would love to work with Thom Yorke because he’s an absolute genius, and everything he creates is absolute gold.
How would you like to grow as an artist?
I think the whole thing in general is a massive learning process. I’ve learnt so much about the production, so I think my goals in that sense are to eventually co-produce my next album, and learn more about the technical side of working in the studio. In terms of music itself, to headline a festival. You have to set big goals.
Do you have a message for your fans?
That I love them. I just love them. They’re the sweetest people and they’re the reason I get to do music. Simple as that.
Stream LION’s latest single, ‘Second Hand’ on all platforms.