In Conversation With: LION

LION - 35mm - TGE 2019 - Ant Adams Photo-4.jpg

We caught up with LION at The Great Escape festival immediately after what she coined as ‘the most stressful soundcheck in history’ to discuss touring, dream festival bills, and her cheap soul.

LION, aka Beth Lowen, is a London-based musician whose punchy music and no-nonsense attitude makes her a joy to speak to. Having always been surrounded by music, it was never a conscious decision for Beth to have made a career out of it: “there was always instruments in the house – it was a loud house.” This idea of noise carries over in to the gritty rock and roll that she has created for herself. Think raspy rattling vocals and in-your-face guitars complimented by foot stomping drum beats. Despite the self-assured ease and confidence that flows through her music, Beth admits that “it’s really hard to turn lyrics into songs”. Being influenced by people like Joni Mitchell and Damien Rice, as well as Steve Nicks and Radiohead, it just goes to show that she’s in the right hands, when it comes to genius songwriters.

Throughout our chat I’m made aware that touring is one of the most enjoyable experiences for Beth, and with the festival season officially underway, she has a great few months ahead of her. “I love being in new places all the time. […] at this kind of level, you’re not on fancy tour buses so it’s kinda rough and ready. We all pile into the van, sleep on people’s sofas and floors. Anything to save a bit of dollar whilst you’re on tour. […] It’s like being a little vagabond and going around being a bit homeless for a bit” She explains that she would like to be life a festival all of the time, and her dream line-up would be along the lines of Reading Festival in 2009, with Radiohead, Arctic Monkeys and Kings of Leon headlining. “It looks fake. It looks like a 2000’s indie kids’ line-up, but it was real and I was there and I wanna re-live it, but not when I was 16 and [when] two ciders would make you battered so you can’t remember watching Arctic Monkeys.”

Festivals and live shows aside, LION has recently released a single called ‘Second Hand’ which is about “being the person that someone always kind of goes back to. They don’t want you, but they don’t want anybody else to have you.” It was a song that was written a while ago and had come in many iterations before being taken back to its roots when first recorded as a demo. It is a bit slower and has more elements of the blues, than LION’s previous releases, but her vocals are at the forefront and her ability to portray emotions comes through in a stunning performance. As well as a new single, there may be an album on the cards, sometime soon. “It’s millimetres from being finished. The last song needs to be mixed and then it needs to be mastered and it’s done. Fucking done forever! Then I can put it to bed and back a new one.”

With all of the formalities out of the way, we thought we’d ask LION a few quickfire questions in order to shake off the stress of her soundcheck and send her into good vibes ahead of her set, which, given the amount of people queuing outside beforehand, was set to be a memorable one.

Alcoholic drink of choice?
Depends on the day, but either red wine or whisky – Jameson’s – it’s cheap just like my soul.

What’s your favourite sound?
People waxing surfboards. It reminds me of travelling and super freedom fun times.

 What would be your superpower?
To speak every single language or, did you ever watch Bernard’s Watch? I love that you can stop time and you can still move and everyone else has paused and you can get up to so much mischief and have more time in life.

Worst thing you did in your teens?
I mean there was quite a few things that I medium regret now but they were also funny. I don’t know what the worst is. I was a little bit very mischievous sometimes, is a nice way to put it. 

What’s your favourite smell?
I love if it’s been really dry for ages. The smell of the grass and rain. Its fresh in a weird way […] I wouldn’t wear it as a perfume. Imagine someone saying “Wow, you smell of wet grass where did you get that!”

Name one thing you can’t live without?
My best friend Poppy. I don’t think I would be able to live without her. I mean I obviously could – I could try – it would be really shit. She’s like a soulmate and we found each other only a few years ago. 

What is your pet peeve?
Slow walkers in front of you. When they take up the whole pavement and dawdle. I’m a really fast walker as well, so slow walkers, UGH!

Do you have a nickname?
I have a few but it depends on the person. Some people called me Blow for Beth Lowen which is ‘Blowen’ but some people take that the wrong way. Or B, or Slug… I’m really good at sleeping.

What would be your ultimate road trip album?
I’m halfway through making one but I keep just adding random shuffle playlists that I hear. I listen to a lot of standard road trip songs […] Tallest Man on Earth and Eddie Vedder. That kind of vibe.

 Who would be in your supergroup?
Tom Yorke, Britney from Alabama Shakes and Dave Grohl.

Feature by Tyler Damara Kelly