This week on the Breakdown, 17-Year-Old rising singer/songwriter Paige Lihya joins us for a revealing interview following the release of her EP ‘In My Thoughts’. Primarily inspired by RnB queens Mary J Blige and Aaliyah amongst others, she’s leading the way in a crop of new, youthful singer songwriting royalty in London in 2017. We broke down her single ‘I Can’t Help It’, which has a recent music video. Here’s what she had to say:
Hello Paige - What’s life been like since released your EP ‘In My Thoughts’?
‘It’s been a big learning curve for me, because all the songs on ‘In My Thoughts’ – I liked them, but I know I can do better.’
What kind of things influenced the EP?
‘Well it was kind of everything that was happening at the time. I had a boyfriend at the time, and well it was a bit rough haha.’
Which musical influences inspired you while you were recording the EP?
‘Right now, I have a couple of people that inspire me, like Ray BLK especially. But back then especially, I liked to just listen to older stuff. Mary J Blige and Aaliyah are two I listen to a lot. I don’t venture too much, I’m focusing, and looking back quite a lot.’
“I Can’t Help It” is a very epic, heartfelt track. What was going through your mind when you wrote?
‘Mmm, well as I said at the time I was in a relationship. He treated me in a way I’ve never treated before, and it was too overwhelming for me. At the time I wrote that, he was giving me a lot of attention and I just couldn’t give it back. So it was about that, that’s why I titled it “I Can’t Help It”.
Yeah you obviously seem to be working through these emotions. Is music a release for you then?
‘Yeah I do use music for release. Specifically in that moment in time, music was how I’d release my emotions.’
For the production you worked with Jay Jay Musika. How did that back and forth work with JJ musically?
‘Yeah, Jay Jay. What would happen is I would go into the studio and basically just say “Listen Jay Jay, whatever feeling or vibe you’re getting from me – just go for it” – and that’s pretty much how it went.’
Nice. So you’d just go and sing a bit to him or show him what you’d written or…
‘I’d just talk to him really, tell him about my day and what had gone in the week.’
The video’s pretty interesting as well, how did the process for that work, how did you start working with the director Cordell Johnson?
‘Well, my manager got in touch with Cordell first. Then with the theme of “I Can’t Help It” we decided to keep all the shots inside, like a homely space – with a boy, someone else, coming in. But physically in the video we show that I’m just not interested, throughout the whole track.’
So where did the ideas mostly come from on that video?
‘So the managers and director pitched a few ideas, and then I said what I liked and didn’t like and made my recommendations and changes and we went from there.’
What’s the thematic makeup of the wider ‘In My Thoughts’ EP then? Are you focusing on one thing? Taking the listener on a journey with it?
‘On the EP there’s actually a journey. “Can’t Help It” is the first set of emotions. Then something in between happened, and I wrote “jealous” about a girl getting jealous of our relationship. Then “Can’t Stay With You” is the fallout of these emotions – when I couldn’t do it anymore.’
Is writing about directly bearing emotions for you then?
‘Yeah that’s the way I naturally do things. I want to write for other people though, I want to stretch my skill like that, go into other parts of music as well – the whole shebang.’
We were going through your social media before we spoke to you, and we read something quite interesting on your Twitter that said “this generation is just making everything worse for themselves” – what was the thinking behind that?
‘Well I was mostly talking about relationships there. The boys I’ve met treat girls quite badly, but expect the girls to treat them well. It’s like a cycle – people wonder why things are going badly, but it’s them.’
Oh, so maybe there’s a new EP coming out on that?
So what’s happening now for Paige Lihya? What’s next?
‘I’m gonna be doing a lot of shows soon. A new EP will be coming very soon. And maybe a few features as well.’
An emotionally charged piece of art from Paige Lihya. Listen to ‘In My Thoughts Below’ and connect with Paige Lihya on Twitter: @PaigeLihya