Recently we heard Lucy Foley sing for the first time. It was stunning. We love her Irish poetic songwriting style and her gorgeous voice that evokes a feeling of stories kept secret from long ago. While she has worked hard at her craft for some time, she is just now receiving wider notice.

We reached out to her to ask questions about what it was like to take big risks, to have fear and to struggle in pursuit of her passions. Truth be told, we knew we liked her music, but when she wrote back quoting Lou Reed and Leonard Cohen the deal was sealed.

On being an artist:

“Iʼve always been a writer. I apparently wrote my first story some time after the age of three, and I have a distinct memory of writing it. The story was called Fluffy Toes, and itʼs still buried in a box in my parentsʼ attic somewhere. My father is a musician and composer.

The beauty of writing songs is the irrationality of it. Itʼs an uncanny process. I get a hint of something, a melody fragment or a lyric, and Iʼm chasing a rabbit down a hole as fast as I can go. These melodies seem to come from a sense of fun, a deeply curious sense of play. And I think you can hear that in my songs, this slightly wild sense of play in the melodies of my songs, while the lyrics are often filled with yearning and reckoning.”

On her journey:

“When I was living in Copenhagen I performed on the pedestrianised streets and sometimes at festivals, singing, playing guitar and telling stories. I translated Elvis Presleyʼs Hound Dog into Danish mostly for my own amusement, and also to see if I could get any humour out of the sombre, rush hour Danes. It was an education, mostly in getting over myself. You really canʼt be precious about yourself when youʼre standing and singing to waves of indifferent people, especially when thereʼs a huge crowd down the street staring at the guy with a boombox and a keen juggling ability. I was digging into a kind of dry truth-telling in my performances, beneath any attempt at crowd pleasing, digging into my own heart for what I had to say from there. I never got a huge crowd but I always got somebody interested. And when they were interested they were really interested.

Kids were always interested. Kids can be the toughest crowd, theyʼre so intense. Iʼm looking forward to going out on tour, taking a band out on the road, getting out of the studio and away from my laptop for a while. Iʼve been working all year on making this album and now, promoting it. I really want to sing again for people. Iʼm hungry for that again. Iʼm excited about performing in New York before the end of the year.”

How she survived:

“Iʼve earned a living in lots of different ways. Iʼve worked in a huge variety of jobs: everything from book reviewer, theatre stage manager, I bathed old Danish ladies when I lived in Copenhagen, I taught poetry, sang for people who paid me to sing. Throughout all of it Iʼve been writing and singing and taking photographs.

The kind of life Iʼve lived has given me a huge freedom in exploring my art and life in informal ways, which I have subsequently drawn back into my work. I would not say that I am fearless. Of course I worry, like everybody does. You do need a kind of faith, though. I donʼt mean a religious faith. I mean the kind of faith Lou Reed is talking about when he said, ʻyou need a busload of faith to get byʼ. Itʼs hard, working in obscurity. You donʼt always have the faith you need to get by, and so you need courage, and you donʼt always have that either. And I think most people are trying to learn about that.”

What would she do again:

“What would I do again? Always pack some good quality teabags. Not do again? Not wait for an hour on that sweaty hot August subway platform for the A train while five C trains went past (going the same direction). In other words, try to take advantage of what life offers you in whatever moment youʼre in, donʼt hold out for your ideal situation. Like the Leonard Cohen song, “Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering. Thereʼs a crack in everything. Thatʼs how the light gets in”. I love that poem, it has such power, such kindness.”

On her music:

“My music is electro-acoustic pop with a gypsy flavour: hints of bossa nova, klezmer, dark fairytales, lush, layered vocals in some songs, soaring howls in others. A lot of the songs on Copenhagen are on the theme of desire and people who seem to keep dancing around each other but canʼt figure out how to get closer.

I wrote Kiss You Free (the first single from the album) beginning with the image of ʻa fresh bunch of longings on your tableʼ. I loved that idea, a bunch of longings sitting in a bowl like a bunch of grapes, and being offered them by the object of my desire, and taking them home with me, until I called to his house again. I find that hilarious in a quiet, dark sort of way. Often an image will be at the heart of a song, and then as I write the song, the story elaborates, and becomes almost cinematic, very pictorial.

Itʼs A Tangle is a lot like that too, these images of people playing with each other and running into a tangle of emotions, feeling the danger of going further, of getting burned. I love using unlikely images of nature in unusual contexts. My songs and my photographs are populated by the same people, people who look like they are living in old fairytales but they are real, complicated, alive… Sometimes itʼs a question of getting a glimpse of anintimate moment in somebody elseʼs life, when no one else is looking.

Mister Bogeyman and Garden of Second Guesses are about trying to summon up the energy to shake off lethargy or whatever it is that keeps you from moving toward a place where you can thrive in your life. I was really inspired by Clarissa Pinkola Estesʼ book, Women Who Run With The Wolves a couple of years ago. Itʼs a great blend of earthy common sense with the mythical, the archetypal realms.”

Listen to Lucy’s new album Copenhagen and let us know what you think.