Cinematic pop singer, songwriter and artist Yara Liz has shared new single ‘Feel Alright’, out everywhere now, and we couldn't wait to talk to her about it. A cry for freedom, the single takes the listener on a journey from subdued textures to a cinematic climax. Written about the clash between technology and nature, Yara Liz explores escapism, numbness and the need to feel better, feelings we all shared over recent global events.
Naming artists like AURORA, Björk and Hans Zimmer as her main inspirations, Yara draws from her combined influences, as well as her classical background, contemporary pop and experimental electronic music to craft her captivatingly distinctive soundscapes.
Lovely to speak with you Yara. How did you first start making music? Where did it all begin?
"That takes me back to when I was a small kid. I remember writing my first ever song when I was 9, after watching Camp Rock on Disney Channel. I felt so inspired by the main character who was afraid to show her music talents and hid her songbook, because I was doing the same thing. Everyone knew I could sing, but I never sang properly because I was scared! So after watching Camp Rock I grabbed my Hannah Montana notebook and wrote my first song, about declaring authority over my life and my destiny hahaha. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t tell my family I wrote music until I was 13, by accident, but every time I grabbed that pink Hannah Montana notebook to write music, I felt like I could do anything."
How would you describe your sound?
"My music is a blend of sounds from my childhood. I call my music “cinematic”: a blend of orchestral, soundtrack elements with indie and pop. It’s as if Disney meets Björk meets Radiohead."
You've listed a few inspirations in previous interviews, but what influences most define your music?
"I was raised with classical music, and I was always into Disney and movie soundtracks. Everything Hans Zimmer touches moves me. My dad would play the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack in the car everywhere we went. I discovered indie music, bands like Radiohead and Amber Run when I was 12, I knew that I was going to mix my love for soundtrack with indie. But it wasn’t until I discovered AURORA and Björk that it clicked in my mind. I didn’t know people could produce such an amazing sound as these two incredible women, and I wanted to do the same in my project."
Can you tell us a bit about your new project 'Feel Alright'?
"'Feel Alright' came from a place of isolation and anger. It was during lockdown in 2020 and I didn’t have any friends nor family around me. I had just moved to London a few months before, so I got really lonely. I started writing “it’s a new day and I feel alright” hoping that it would be true one day once the pandemic was over. My friend Matt Swanton had this sketch that sounded really beautiful, which gave birth to the first verse and chorus. But I didn’t finish it until 2022 when Russia invaded Ukraine. I was so heartbroken and angry, all I wanted was to be in a different reality. So these lyrics came to me “One day we build a wall, one day we go to war until there’s nothing left”. And thus, Feel Alright was born. All my thoughts, worries, frustration and pain over conflicts and global events we all share."
What is your songwriting process? How does it all come together?
"It depends, to be honest. Sometimes a melody or thought appears in my head and it makes room for a story that I have to dive into and explore. Other times it’s an emotion I feel deeply and it makes me wonder why, and then I write sentences about it, which form the building blocks of a song. I love exploring humanity and what it means to be human. So many times I hear stories from people, or it’s my own experiences as a person that inspires me to write. Everything around humans, emotions or the universe and nature is an amazing source of songwriting."
What’s the most important thing for you when you’re writing a song?
"I would say honesty. The most powerful lyrics are when they are raw and true to the artist. If I don’t believe in the lyrics then I can’t connect with them. I think that’s what I love about indie music, the lyrics are so poetic and honest, even if it’s painful to sing them sometimes."
What’s next for you as an artist?
"I am very excited for the future. I’ve written over 150 songs, and the next song I want to share will be released in September. I’m also going to play a few intimate gigs to get to know my fans, and next year I’m planning to play at festivals across the UK and Europe."
What would your dream collaboration be?
"Ohhh I would looove to collab with AURORA and Björk, they are geniuses, and I admire their work so much. I don’t know if it will ever happen but hey who knows? Really I just want to say thank you to them for existing through my music."
What advice would you give to bands who are looking to make it?
"As someone who is on the same boat, I find the reward always comes when there’s hard work. Be the best at what you want to do. Practise everyday and show up everyday. The more active you are (whether on social media, gigs, whatever) and out yourself out there, the more people will notice and believe in the message you want to share. And don’t worry about numbers, they will come later."
What has been your best moment as a musician so far?
"I think the best moment was when I put on my first showcase and played my songs for the first time. At the end of the gig someone came to me saying: “in your last song you said ‘One day we will find our way, One day we will find home’ and I think you found yours, thank you for inviting me”. I still think about that moment, home has been something I have always searched for and never found. Until now. Being an artist is my only option."
Trained as an actress and brought up in church, her artistry crosses disciplines and pushes boundaries. Born and raised in Lisbon, as a child she started singing and performing in plays in the church, then she would go home and listen to Disney music and classical pieces. In 2016 she saw AURORA’s music video ‘Runaway’ which sparked a desire for her to tell her own story. “I didn’t know you could make music like that, and because of it I discovered other brilliant artists like Björk and Novo Amor, but also found the sound that resonated with me the most, I wanted to be part of that.”
In 2018 she performed at an international conference in Germany in front of thousands, and the following year moved to London to study and pursue her career in music. “Since then I have been learning how to be an artist, making my own sound and sharing my thoughts, emotions and stories, inspired by the people around me and the universe.”
Between her dreamy production and her open-hearted songwriting, Yara Liz invites the listener to wander into the landscapes she paints with sound.
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