Dearest Philistine – Debut album by Lyndsey Lawlor
Gentrification, capitalism and mental health are key themes that are explored in singer and spoken-word performer Lyndsey Lawlor’s recently released debut album ‘Dearest Philistine’.
The 24-year-old creative grew up in Fortunestown in Tallaght and attended St Aidan’s Community School in Brookfield.
Lyndsey’s passion for creating was nurtured in her teenage years when she was part of the Rua Red-based SubSounds group, where she learned about songwriting and recording, and deepened her musical knowledge.
Her early experiences in SubSounds, and her rapidly developing interest in spoken-word, led to the creation of ‘Dearest Philistine’ – an arresting and engrossing listen that strikes at the heart of Dublin in the present day.
Lyndsey told The Echo about how fellow Tallaght spoken-word performer Emmet Kirwan lit the spark that developed her interest in the art form, the elation she feels at the response her album has received, and the ever-changing landscape of Dublin and the detrimental impact it’s having on the arts.
Who was the first spoken-word artist you saw, and when did you become aware of it as an artistic medium?
I think Emmet Kirwan – who’s also from Tallaght, funnily enough – was the first spoken-word artist I saw and thought, ‘Wow, that’s some powerful art right there. I want to do that’.
I dabbled a little bit in spoken-word while I was in college, but never really went for it until my ‘SAKE’ EP in 2020.
One track on that has about a minute of spoken-word. It wasn’t until 2020, when I was put into a situation that I couldn’t meet with my band, that I dove head first into it, and started to make a full album around it.
What do you find most appealing about creating spoken-word material?
I use spoken-word and songwriting as therapy. When I have strong feelings, I use it to clear the fog. You know that fog that’s in your head, that you’re just not right?
You’re angry, but you haven’t quite laid it out to make sense of it. It’s like when you vent to a friend, and then say to yourself, ‘Oh wait, that’s it. It’s not that bad when you break it down.’
You developed your early skills as a songwriter in the SubSounds group in Tallaght. What was that experience like for you, and how has it helped you to develop your career?
SubSounds is responsible for who I am. I had no intention of going to music college or even becoming a songwriter before the course. Martin Moran, who runs the course, along with some amazing mentors, facilitates a really comfortable environment for young people’s creativity to flourish. They showed me from an early age that a career in music is possible. I got some amazing opportunities handed to me in the course. It gave me a glimpse into the industry, and made me fall in love with it.
How does it feel to have released your debut album ‘Dearest Philistine’?
It’s crazy. It doesn’t feel real sometimes. It’s been getting some really lovely attention, and people seem to really be digging it, which is a wonderful feeling.
It’s quite daunting, releasing a debut album. Especially an album with such strong views.
But it’s being picked up well and myself and Gary O’Reilly, the producer on the album, are delighted with how everything turned out.
The album contains both spoken-word performances and singing, why is it important to you to have that variety in your material?
The album is a display of who I am, I guess. If we’re going to talk vocal-wise here, I love to sing.
I’ve always loved to sing. Spoken-word is something I’ve only recently fallen in love with. So it’s a blend of what makes me happy.
The opening track, ‘Calling/Art is Pain’, contains the lyric “Art is everybody’s calling/They just don’t know it yet”. What led you to come to that conclusion?
I think everybody is creative in their own way. I like to say, ‘Every voice has a story, and every story is a piece of art’.
everyone has creativity inside them; in storytelling, in singing in the car, in doodling etc.
There’s an art to how people tell stories, particularly Irish people.
We’re a very creative culture. It’s an art form that’s so often overlooked. We are all artists in our own way. It’s just that some of us haven’t realised that yet.
The album touches on themes of capitalism and gentrification, and seems to offer a vignette of what Dublin is like for young people in the present day, with the closure of cultural spaces to make way for hotels. What does it mean to you to be a part of the conversation about what Dublin is like for artists right now?
It upsets me to see what’s happening to Dublin. The culture is being obliterated.
Historical clubs, venues and architecture seem to hold less importance to a hotel these days.
It’s a real shame, because tourists aren’t going to want to fly into Dublin to see all of our fancy new hotels, or walk past people dying on the street to get to our shiny new white water rafting facility. That’s not Dublin. All we can do is stand up as people.
We grew up here, but our city is being adapted for tourists.
What about the locals? Voices are being heard, though.
Petitions are being signed. People power is working. Never stop shouting!
What impact do you want ‘Dearest Philistine’ to have on listeners?
I want people to realise that they have a voice, and they should use it. I talk a lot about mental health on the album.
It’s something we should share with each other. Once we open up conversations about mental health, everything gets easier. We, as a nation, should open up more.
We should love each other more. We should create an environment in which people feel comfortable sharing feelings.
‘Dearest Philistine’ is out now on all streaming platforms.
For more information, follow @LydnseyLawMusic on Twitter and @LyndseyLawlorMusic on Instagram.