Exposure: Lilura – 'I like to keep busy and keep challenging myself'

Exposure: Lilura – 'I like to keep busy and keep challenging myself'

Highlands-based singer and songwriter Jemma Tweedie talks us through her new single and future plans

With her just-released second single 'Feel Love', an icy electronic pop dreamscape and the follow up to last year's electro-goth debut 'Darkest Desire', giving a clearer sense of her identity, Highlands-based singer and songwriter Jemma Tweedie aka Lilura (it's pronounced 'Lih-lura') is a raw but quickly developing talent. 'Feel Love' was recorded with Ted Kurie, whose credits include Afrojack and David Guetta, while she has another single out in July on the LA-based TSS Records, with drums by Beastie Boys band member Alfredo Ortiz.

First of all, though, where did the Nairn-based radiographer-by-day ('it's temporary!' she laughs on the subject of the job which she studied for) get her pseudonym?

I went through a phase of being obsessed with witches, particularly Scottish witches. I was Googling all that stuff and I came across it. It's a witch's name which means 'to enchant'. Where did the obsession come from? I was working at Cawdor Castle and a customer gave me a book on Scottish myths and legends… we didn't have many customers, so I got my nose stuck into it.'

How did you start out in music?

I played piano and violin, did the choir and all that, but when I went to university in Glasgow my dad bought me a guitar, and I started teaching myself to play by watching covers on YouTube. But I got frustrated because it was too hard to play other people's songs, so I started playing my own music instead. I went to open mic nights and took it from there.

And how did you start recording after that?

My dad's friend was in a fairly successful Inverness band a few years ago (Colin Fraser of the Jyrojets, reportedly the first band from the city to sign a major label deal), and he said "if Jemma ever wants to record some stuff, let me know". It was just acoustic stuff, but I was into what he was doing, it seemed like something I wanted to learn. I couldn't find a producer who was making the sounds I wanted, so I got a copy of Logic and did it myself in my bedroom.

How did you go about getting noticed after that?

Bedroom recording is convenient, but I always had a bigger sound in my head, I just didn't know how to get it out. I tried to get a band together and went through phases of doing more blues, more rock stuff, but it was never quite what I wanted. I took a year out and wrote loads, and eventually found an artist development company in London who put me in touch with a producer down there called Will Baker. We did my first EP together. I've done so much since then – Famous (the development company) took me to Los Angeles, where I worked with writers, producers and made a music video. I've played some festivals, did a tour towards the end of last year… I like to keep busy and keep challenging myself.

Was Ted Kurie's background in dance a big selling point for you?

I think he's actually worked with Scooter as well, who I was a fan of when I was really young… that was weird! But the song itself isn't as dance, it's kind of nice, chilled-out indie-pop. Just now I'm quite influenced by people like Banks, Charli XCX, Tove Lo, and then I like Arctic Monkeys – a lot of their lyrics – David Bowie and Lady Gaga because she's so out there.

What's next?

I have a few dates to promote 'Feel Love' in July, I'll be doing a few festivals, and by this time next year, I'll be looking to have a few more releases. Just keep plugging away towards the goal of getting signed by a major label and touring Europe! But on an independent budget it'll be a bit slower.

Lilura plays Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh, Sun 22 Jul. Her new single 'Feel Love' is out now.


Highlands-based pop musician Jemma Tweedie.

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