Meet Our Muse: Lemin

THIS IS LEMIN. SHE’S A TORONTO-BASED SINGER-SONGWRITER. LEMIN OPENS UP TO US ABOUT THE CREATIVE PROCESS, HER RECENT ALBUM ‘PETEY PASSED AWAY’, AND QUARANTINE LIFE.

HI LEMIN! WE’RE SO EXCITED TO HAVE YOU AS OUR FEBRUARY MUSE – LET’S KICK OFF THE INTERVIEW WITH A LIL ICE BREAKER. IF YOU HAD TO PICK 3 WORDS TO DESCRIBE YOURSELF WHAT WOULD THEY BE?

Creative… anxious [laughs], loving, I guess.

THE PAST YEAR HAS BEEN INCREDIBLY CHALLENGING FOR ALL OF US, IN WAYS THAT WE’VE NEVER EXPERIENCED BEFORE. WHAT’S SOMETHING CHALLENGING YOU’VE EXPERIENCED RECENTLY? HAVE YOU FOUND A WAY TO OVERCOME IT?

I mean this has probably been the challenge for most people lately, but I’d say the whole lockdown/quarantine thing. But I’ve been learning to be by myself and learning how to enjoy my own company. I wouldn’t say I’ve “overcome” this yet but I’m working on it. I guess I’ve just been trying all the classic things people say to do.. I finally started journalling for the first time in my life, and I’m trying mediation too for the first time. I think it’s important to have a routine, exercise when you can, and learn to be okay just “being” rather than “doing” all the time.

YOU’RE A TALENTED SINGER, SONGWRITER AND PRODUCER. HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN MUSIC?

I’ve always being doing music, ever since I could. You know those kinder music programs - my mom had enrolled us in those classes, where you just like clap and stuff. Then I went to a choir and orchestra elementary and high school. In high school I started to write and produce my own things but wasn’t until I moved to Toronto, (I’m from London), that I really decided okay, this is something I can pursue.

TELL US ABOUT PETEY PASSED AWAY AND HOW THE ALBUM CONCEPT CAME ABOUT?

Most of the songs on petey passed away are basically unrequited love songs, but from all different sides of it. It’s a deeply personal, deeply emotional project. None of the songs were forced, or written from any other place than true authentic feeling. They all just came out of me when they needed to, and the emotion behind most of them is very similar. It’s that deep aching feeling of love. Even the happy songs like good looks kill were written from this place of aching and longing. It’s the idea of rebirth - of dying and being born again in love. It’s about killing parts of yourself to fit with someone else, and then finding those parts again. It’s about the version of yourself that you created for someone else dying when the relationship ends, and making room for whatever may emerge next. Petey is my nickname, it’s what my close friends and family call me. It’s who I feel most like I am. In the various relationships I’ve been in, I feel like the Petey I know has died, and come back to life several times over.

YOU’VE SPOKEN A LITTLE ABOUT SELF-LOVE BEFORE IN YOUR ALBUM TRAILER FOR PETEY PASSED AWAY AND THE TYPE OF JOURNEY IT IS, I WAS WONDERING WHAT INSPIRED THAT?

I really love what we did with the album trailer. It’s super important to me to be as authentic and honest as possible so my creative director (the incredibly talented Yaz Butcher) and I had this idea to do a loooong interview where she asked me all the questions about love, life, the album and what inspired it. We recorded it and ended up with almost like 3 hours of recording. We took random clips of my answers that we felt related to the singles or the album and found or recorded footage to go with it.

WHAT WAS THE PROCESS LIKE WHEN YOU WERE PUTTING THE ALBUM TOGETHER - DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE TRACK, OR A TRACK THAT CHALLENGED YOU?

Honestly it wasn’t really thought out. I was just going through something, as you can pretty clearly hear on the album, and everything I wrote around that time had a similar kind of theme or feeling. I wasn’t intentionally writing an album but these songs were just coming out of me and at the end of it I thought, oh these songs kinda work as an album. Of course we spent a lot of time and energy making sure all the details were the best they could be, but actually writing the songs was the easiest part of the process. They just flowed out of me like they were meant to.

Favourite: My favourite honestly changes day to day but the most consistent is one brain. This was one of the very first songs I wrote for this album. I’m biased because I have the nostalgia and emotion connected to the song that no one else has, but I think that’s what makes it my favourite.

WHAT ARE YOUR SELF LOVE SELF CARE TOOLS WHEN YOU’RE WORKING ON AN ALBUM OR A SONG?

Writing the album is self-care for me. Truthfully I’m usually not really good at being in touch with my emotions, but when I’m writing it’s the only time I don’t think as much, I just let the feelings pour out of me. I actually learn a lot about how I’m truly feeling through writing and listening back to what I wrote.

IS THERE A DIRECTION YOU WANT TO MOVE TOWARDS AS AN ARTIST?

I honestly try not to think too much about curating a direction for my art, and kind of just let it happen. Authenticity is really important for me so I just kind of follow what I’m feeling/creating/inspired by and see what happens.

WHAT IS YOUR WRITING PROCESS LIKE?

For me, 95% of the time, it starts with the words. Lyrics are a huge focus for me in my music and I really pride myself on my lyrics. I have so many “lyric ideas” files in my phone, I can literally scroll through them for like 6 days. Whether its a word or a phrase, or even just an idea, it usually starts there, then I just sit down at the piano and the music follows.

WHICH PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES DO YOU LOVE THE MOST?

I wish this question wasn’t so hard for me to answer haha but I guess I’ll say my legs. I’m pretty tall and i didnt always like it growing up because all my friends were so much shorter than me so I felt like a giant. But now I love how long and strong my legs are.

WHICH PERSONALITY TRAITS DO YOU LOVE THE MOST?

Wow this is another really hard question… I think I’m pretty understanding and being considerate of other people’s experience. I’m good at stepping into other people’s shoes and considering things from their perspective. I think I have a pretty high capacity for empathy, which I think can be a really beautiful quality, but it can also pretty easily be taken advantage of which can sometimes leave me feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes I get so caught up in other people’s feelings or emotions that I forget to consider my own.

WHEN DO YOU FEEL MOST EMPOWERED?

When I’m on stage. Honestly that’s been one of the biggest bummers of 2020 for me is not being able to perform. I really miss being on stage. I would get so so nervous like 30 minutes before my performances but then after the first song or two, I’d feel so happy and powerful. I’m so present in the moment that it almost feels like an out of body experience.

Lemin is wearing the Boxer Briefs in Black. Images are by Yazmin Butcher Monet