While recording of Lydia Cole‘s debut album ‘Me and Moon’, at Neil Finn‘s Roundhead Studios in Newton last year, during lunch, one of the engineers walked into the kitchen where the band was eating. In a tone suggesting it was nothing special, he said three words: “It’s snowing outside.” Like kids, grins Lydia Cole in recalling the day, she and her band jumped from their chairs out onto the street, dancing in the snow.
Lydia collects such little magic moments, and when you ask the right questions, she’ll tell you about them. And as it goes with musicians, she writes fine songs about them as well. ‘Me and Moon’ is full of little magic memories, of love and of loss, of quiet happiness, and of independence. It’s a subtle, rich album; one to listen to properly. In a perfect listening scenario, according to Lydia, it would be midnight, rain against the window, the lights off and we’d be in bed with headphones on.
Lydia Cole, as her music, comes across as thoroughly genuine, which makes her seem extremely vulnerable in the light of a society where abrasive critics are everyone’s favourite. It’s not a small thing to share one’s personal experiences unguardedly with complete and measuring strangers.
She talks about family, about her parents encouraging the kids to play recorder on Saturday mornings instead of playing sports for example. The kids would dance and sing along to Dire Straits, Simon and Garfunkel and Larry Norman. She remembers her mother singing her to sleep in the evenings, and while doing so, she’d teach young Lydia to sing harmonies to her lullabies.
Of the five now grown-up Cole children, one plays in an Auckland band called Dusty Doves, another is part of Great North and Avalanche City, and now there’s singer/songwriter Lydia, who will stand on big stages supporting people like Diana Krall, Brooke Fraser, and many others.
Auckland-based artist management company CRS took Lydia under their wings a few years ago. Having someone who believes in her enough to actually invest into her she sees as a confidence booster, also affecting her songwriting. However, creativity comes from dissatisfaction, she reckons.
In recent times, Lydia has found herself maturing as a songwriter as well, leaving behind the purity of a song written in the moment (laziness), to develop songs more intentionally over longer periods of time (hardworking). She says a song doesn’t have to be perfect right away.
Returning from a life in small-town Australia – where she moved for love, to bridge a long distance gap – Lydia now lives in Hillcrest on Auckland’s North Shore. The relationship with a young Australian songwriter, that made her move across the ditch in the first place didn’t work out, but the stories inspired at least half of her new album, proving once again that beauty can come from sad outcomes.
Photo by Steve Dykes