“A work in progress”, 20 year old producer Lucy Heyler answers sincerely, to one of the most repetitive questions producers face.
Performing and producing under the moniker L U C Y, Heyler has received a bounty of attention in the past year with her unique take on electronic music. It’s been bittersweet for the debut of her career. As Britain takes over international charts and trends with an indigenous genre of music, there is no doubt that being labelled as a grime artist has helped L U C Y’s career rocket. Clash asks her if it seems like an honest default description she reveals that “I would say no... but if people call it grime or take it as grime I don’t care about that because I love grime, like I really do love it. But I wouldn’t define myself as a grime artist.”
It’s hard to disagree with her on this point, her self-released mixtape that came out in January ‘MIXTAPE 01’ is laced with rolling basslines, manipulated amen breaks and ethereal synths, typically associated with different genres, making it incredibly hard to categorise into one genre.
Her next release is coming out with London based record label Trapdoor, responsible with releasing the work of some of her favourite artists and Red Bull Riddim Rally contestants like Sh?m and Kareful. As Lucy prepares for a new chapter in her career, it’s clear that her hometown, Bristol, has made an impact on the reception of her music: “Oh my god that Bristol sound! ‘You sound so Bristol’. I do hear it quite a lot. Not just with my music, just generally… I’m honoured that people would say that though”.
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It’s unlikely that she would be able to shake the ‘Bristol sound’ for a number of reasons. Having learnt how to DJ through a local youth community group in Bristol under Bristol Jungle legend DJ Dazee and then going on to do a degree in music at Guilford university, Lucy has returned to Bristol with a fresh perspective on the city. “You get a wealth of different music here. I think it’s a thing within people growing up in Bristol where you get people who have all grown up listening to Collie Buddz, etc. There’s just a selection of tunes where I could’ve gone to a completely different school and lived in a completely different area to someone, but they know all the same staple tunes. Even from different genres.”
“We’ve all got a fucking mini-rig, we’ve all sat in the park on a sunny day and blasted the same tunes. That doesn’t happen everywhere. I think that a lot of smaller towns and even cities, they mostly listen to one genre and they don’t see the benefits of broadening their horizons. Whereas in Bristol you grow up with them broad horizons already.” It’s a strange phenomenon within the city’s exports and expats, people from Bristol seem to really love Bristol and gratefully let it shape them.
The community and shared history in the city that develops so much of Bristol’s creative output raises questions about the future of Heyler’s music and personal life which helps inspire her so. “The main thing that I noticed when I was at university was that there was no community vibe at all, nothing. I got back to Bristol and I just felt like I was a part of something. In London it can be quite hostile, there are communities and I have mad respect for that but generally the people that move into London make no community”.
Despite this, Lucy found what she was looking for at Radar Radio. A regular on the station’s shows L U C Y has been able gain attention from further afield, and also rub shoulders with some big names. “It’s like this big office space and it’s really social. It’s really hard to get work done. I was doing essay work which is like free work but I don’t care because I get to see all the artists that I respect walk in and I can fangirl. Everyone else is always so cool so I have to keep calm but it’s hard because I’m such a super fan”.
In the wake of a myriad of accusations against older, successful men in the creative industries (although, nothing new), L U C Y can offer us an insight into the very real world of sexual harassment that women face relentlessly in the world of dance music. “It’s so hard to be a fan and be a girl. A lot of people that are my idols are middle-aged male producers… They can see you as being like a peng young girl that’s coming up to you and they start moving to you!”
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Unfortunately, this behaviour is rampant throughout the scene. L U C Y, like many others, now holds back even with those that she admires greatly, which is ultimately a great shame. “When I was working at Motion the other day, the day before had been AJ Tracey and Big Zuu. I really want to tell Big Zuu how much I think he’s so sick. I haven’t met him but I’ve been in his surroundings three or four times but I have to remain cool and remain level headed because I don’t wanna come off as a groupie.”
That all said, with her recent success there’s no doubt that the producer has people freaking out over her too, and Bristol having the community it does, her fans are often close to home. “I had a really humbling moment the other day at the youth group. Because I’ve started working at Basement now. This one kid came in to do a DJ a set and we were introduced to each other, he was like “Yeah I know who you are, Lucy Production yeah?” and I was like no way that’s so cute! So that’s the kind of stuff I like. The fact that kid knew who I was, was really special”.
Lucy’s modesty has given her a great sense of self, her most important fans are her friends she reveals the she speaks. “I’ve got friends that will actually listen to my music. I love that. If people actually appreciate the music then that’s sick. I’ve always said that I make music for my friends to dance to and appreciate more so than just random people”.
The value of people around her has a deeper effect on L U C Y’s production: “I pick up what’s going on around me. When I was working at Radar I would go home and make dancehall tracks. It’s usually the friendship group around me that I pick up on. So when I’m away from my Bristol friends a lot I’ll be around my London friends and they all listen to different music. So I’ll try and make stuff that goes with their vibe. I think my music will change and develop into something else and hopefully it keeps changing”. Effectively, the freedom that L U C Y gains from appealing to her friends as fans, makes her a truly versatile artist.
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Words: Billie Monnier-Stokes
L U C Y's next release with Trapdoor Records will be coming out on December 18th. In the meantime catch her playing at Liquid Ritual’s Christmas party on December 16th.
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