This article was originally featured in ASBO MAGAZINE; Issue 10
Apart from being an absolute puppy lover and crocheting cute hats in her spare time, Lucy Tun (AKA LCYTN) is a British Burmese pop singer, producer and DJ based in London. Despite coming from a family who would traditionally encourage the more intellectual route, Tun had a strong attraction and curiosity for singing and playing instruments ever since she was a young child. Some of her best friends during school times included the violin and the piano, and pop tunes accompanied her throughout her teen years. So, it was only evident that, one day, that little girl who would form part of school orchestras and spend hours experimenting in her school’s music studio, would become a do-it-all pop musician.
In her first year of university, Lucy Tun was introduced to the world with her debut EP, ‘Good Nights Bad Stories’, an impressively self-produced piece of work that presented her as a shy and sweet bedroom pop artist, highly inspired by her South Asian roots. Though the aesthetics are cute and gentle, the artist shares that her music is also about touching upon negative feelings and experiences that other people may be able to relate to. “A lot of my songs are quite introspective, and they always touch upon insecurities I may have that other people may share with me.”.
In fact, the young talent shares that some of her songs are about growing up in the UK as someone of Asian origins and feeling unidentified with her ethnicity. Insecure, one of the singles in her debut EP, is all about Tun feeling out of place, and like she didn’t belong. “Being raised in the UK and then learning about Burma as a young adult, then going back for the first time and reconnecting with your roots, that type of experience, I think is shared among a lot of friends. I think I always find some connection with somebody based on where they’re from. So that diaspora experience is something that is always going to come out in my music.”
During late July, Tun released Monarchy, a catchy lo-fi pop single directed at people who put up a front when they go on first dates. This latest project is the first one to be released under the musician’s real name, as before that, ‘LCYTN’ was the go-to name displayed in all her work. Her artistic name isn’t the only thing that has changed though, as in Monarchy, we’re presented with a more daring and experienced Lucy who is no longer timid and who wants the world to hear her out. Lucy tells ASBO that during the creation of Good Nights Bad Stories, when she was only doing music part-time, she lacked confidence and didn’t yet have the full grasp of who she was as an artist.
“When I was mixing my vocals in Good Nights Bad Stories, I really didn’t want them to be at the front, I wanted them to be drenched in reverb. I couldn’t listen to myself without any of that, it would just cringe me out … But now I’m at a point where I guess I feel more confident to say, ‘yeah, I want this at the front, this is how I want it to sound.’”
It’s clear to see that, after coming out as Lucy Tun, the artist feels ready to exit her shell, grab the bull by its horns and go full-time with her music career to serve us with some serious art.
When asked about her creative process during song writing, Tun tells us that she treats her work like a sonic diary, and that she’s been coming up with new ways of lyric writing that doesn’t just involve delving in past experiences and finding inspiration in old feelings. “I do make a lot of songs nowadays, especially in sessions with other people where I write about whatever comes to me in the moment, whatever I could experience that day; a phrase that someone said to me, a conversation that I’ve had. I like to take those elements and make it into a song. I think that that’s a fun way for me to be creative. There have been times where I’ve tried to think through it, and I know there’s a lot of musicians who find inspiration from the past, but I’m in the phase of taking inspiration from the present.”
Digging deeper, Tun gets candid with us and reveals that there’s been moments where music has been a good form of therapy for her when she’s found herself alone in her bedroom. Though she doesn’t make music on her own as much anymore, she tells us that whenever sadness strikes, she tends to look back at some of the great projects she has made to pull herself together again. “There’s been some moments, especially more towards the beginning of my music journey, where a lot of the songs I would make would be alone, by myself in my bedroom, late at night. That was the only period where things came into perspective for me, and I was able to translate that into what I was making”.
“It did feel quite therapeutic at the time, and it’s strange, because I think nowadays, just through DJing, through doing music for others, and doing sessions, I guess that vulnerability and that need to support myself doesn’t really come when I’m around other people. It’s not fully there. But a lot of the times when I’m feeling quite low, and I feel like I’m not doing well enough, or feel confused, I look back on certain songs I’ve made, and I’m like, ‘that’s something that I made’. And, you know, that just helps me get through that feeling at the time because it’s good, I support myself in that way. It’s uplifting.”
Although music is now her full-time thing, the artist did say that when she isn’t at the studio writing and producing songs for us to enjoy, she’s on Pinterest looking through cool looks to wear. Though, please never give Lucy a pair of high waisted jean shorts because she won’t have it. “I always say never say never, but very rarely will you catch me in a pair of shorts. Especially those high waisted jean shorts from Topshop every girl would wear a few years back. They never, ever suited me, and it was so frustrating!” Also, is it a surprise to say that she’s highly inspired by cute Japanese fashion? Because, and I mean it, Tun looks like a walking anime girl, and you just want to hug her and put her in your pocket forever. “I’m obviously influenced by cute fashion –obsessed. I have bought a lot of stuff from boutiques in Tokyo, that’s obviously prevalent in my kind of artistry. I think I’m also really into the old school 60s British fashion, the styles in Gucci, especially recently, seem to be based on a 60s theme which I love…”
But her style isn’t entirely inspired by Japanese fashion and the 60s, as Tun tells us that the tendency to rock fun and colourful ‘IDGAF what you think of me’ outfits actually just runs in the fam. “I think that I started to realise as an adult that I have basically just copied my mum’s fashion style”, the artist says. “I used to roast my mum, because she is the type of person where she wakes up and puts on just anything she can find, and if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. She just throws whatever on and then goes out in the day. I didn’t realise that I picked up from that, but slowly and slowly, when I was trying to figure out my own style, a lot of it would just be me picking random things that I liked, putting them together and walking out just like that. A lot of the time I just like to respond to colour, I think it makes me feel happier. It makes me feel more individual, and it helps me channel my own creativity.”
So, what can we expect from Lucy Tun in the future? She gives us a sneak peek of what’s to come: “My next project is definitely going to touch on change. All my projects always touch upon womanhood and coming of age. I think that that idea, and it has begun for Monarchy, it’s going to carry on through to future projects. My future work is going to touch upon taking risks as an adult, it’s going to touch upon seeing society and feeling like everybody, yourself included, is in some form of loop, and trying to break that to try and become a better version of yourself.”
The gifted musician has already accomplished some impressive milestones, including collaborations with brands such as Gucci and Schuh. Though, talking about some future goals, Tun would like to have her own fluffy dog (we obvi saw that one coming) and once she’s a senior in the music scene, she would also like to write songs for Disney. Who knows? We might one day spot ‘Lucy Tun’ in the credits for some of our future kids’ favourite movies.
WORDS: GABRIELA JIMENEZ GARCIA
IMAGES: MAX AUBERON, SEBASTIAN GARRAWAY, BRANDON THOMSON
CREATIVE DIRECTOR: ELLA KENNEALLY
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: MAYA BELLE
STYLISTS: ADAM MARTIN, AIMEE ARMSTRONG, ELLA KENNEALLY
FASHION: BEAN BABY, CLAUDIA LUSTIG BROWN
MAKEUP ARTIST: BROOK SIMONS
HAIR STYLIST: SOPHIE SUGARMAN