Lydia Ainsworth is a deeply individual voice, but she's also part of a network of musicians that stretch across North America.
Growing up in Toronto but later studying in Montreal, she spent time in New York before completing the circle with a return to The 6.
Along the way she's released two terrific albums - 2014's 'Right From Real' and 2017's 'Darling Of The Afterglow' - which allowed her to refine and distill her voice.
A potent producer, her whimsical but often emotionally incisive songwriting matches technical curiosities to a willingness to step outwith boundaries.
New album 'Phantom Forest' is out now, a superb return, one that allows her to reach a further level with her work.
Clash caught up with Lydia to discuss how literary influences impact on her work...
I often have piles of all kinds of books and magazines and newspapers and visual clippings stacked up around me while I'm in the writing stages of my records.
The following are some I've had with me from the beginning of my songwriting explorations that remain close to my heart as well as some new ones that I found inspiring while writing 'Phantom Forest'.
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John O'Donohue - Anam Cara
I found this book in the New Age section of my local bookstore in Toronto while writing my first album - I was searching for something to remedy my anxiety. This book really helps me to feel at ease.
John O'Donohue had a magical way of unveiling the beauty around us when it is hard to see. This book has inspired me to want to create that same feeling of uncovering hidden beauty through my music.
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Isaac Bashevis Singer - Collected Stories
I'm always astounded by how in just a few pages Singer is able to make his characters so familiar and so alive. As a songwriter my goal is to create a world within each song. I aspire to create a living landscape that is equally as palpable.
My favourite short story is called The Letter Writer. Endearing, mystical, hilarious and dark these stories are like a Coen Brothers' film but better.
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T.S Eliot - Selected Poems
When I began writing songs I was too shy to use my own lyrics. Singing was enough of a precarious and revealing feeling for me to navigate in those early stages of discovery. The first song I ever wrote was set to T.S Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock from a collection of Eliot's poems.
The song was a stepping stone to writing my own lyrics and it allowed me to explore my voice as another character in the process, something I still do in my songs.
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David Levens - Chess Basics
One fine morning during the making of 'Phantom Forest' I woke up with my head swimming in circles. I had vertigo which would last for about three months straight. Playing piano and singing made the vertigo worse. I somehow discovered on a phone app that playing chess was a way for me to focus my attention away from my nausea and worry. I got really into the game and ended up joining a local chess club where my chess coach gave me this book.
I feel like playing chess opened my mind to seeing patterns in not only the chess pieces on the board but in every day situations in my personal, business and creative spheres. In my songwriting I started being able to make creative decisions with much greater ease.
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Albert Camus - The Stranger / Exile And The Kingdom
Albert Camus is one of my favourite writers and The Stranger is the first book I read of his. I often find myself flipping through the pages of The Stranger as well as Exile And The Kingdom (collection of six short stories) while I am writing. I love his descriptions and his philosophy of the absurd. Grey, inconclusive, morally nebulous, his stories often depict characters painfully confronted by the world around them searching for an inner kingdom of repose.
Camus is a master at depicting life in all its absurdity, nothing is ever black and white which is something I greatly appreciate in art and literature.
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Lydia Ainsworth's new album 'Phantom Forest' is out now.
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