Newcastle folk/chamber pop artist Ruth Lyon found herself feeling like crap every time Vogue magazine dropped onto her front door mat, yet still she didn’t cancel her subscription. Even as the pages prodded at insecurities there was something strangely addictive about mindlessly flipping through it every month. The situation inspired the title of her second EP, Direct Debit To Vogue (2022), produced by John Parish, who has notably worked with PJ Harvey, Aldous Harding and This Is The Kit. The songs explore self-doubt, insecurity, emotional masochism, the weight of arbitrary expectations. All of this is un-ravelled through offbeat, sophisticated chamber pop and anti-folk, commanded by Lyon’s soulful vocals and witty yet raw lyricism.
Over the years, she’s established herself as a key and active member of the Newcastle music scene, including in her role on the board of directors at Sage Gateshead and as lead singer of cult folk rockers Holy Moly & The Crackers. She has also advocated for the Disabled community in her work as an ambassador for Attitude Is Everything, a charity that aims to improve accessibility for Deaf and Disabled people in live music; Lyon herself has been a wheelchair user since the age of 21.
The key themes that Lyon found were at the core of all these songs were power in fragility, and beauty in imperfection. This turns on its head all the societal assumptions represented by those Vogue magazines and opens up doors to a new kind of self-acceptance and power.
“I want it to be very inclusive, like anybody could listen to any of the songs and come up with their own story, or it would mirror their individual circumstances,” she says. “I wanted to evoke the feeling of the kinda music that just punches you in the gut. Rather than ‘oh, this is pretty, this is nice’ — I want to emotionally drag some stuff out of people.” She concludes Direct Debit to Vogue’s journey with four simple words: “I’ve found my voice.”