Lia Lia is the eccentric new artist you have been looking for. Combining catchy sing-song choruses, grungy lyricism, and an attitude entirely driven on world domination, her hit single I’m a Moth!! showcases her as a pop-punk princess straight out of one of her favourite animes. Focusing on this single, we talk to Lia Lia about finding your place in the world – especially when you feel like more of a moth than a butterfly – her style, and the intimate translation of her German-Chinese roots into music.
Lia Lia’s upcoming EP Love & Melancholy – although she is currently bound to secrecy on its contents – promises the listener a blend of punk, pop, and the surreal energy she brings to the music industry, the tracks dynamically split between pining to a wasted youth, and more fearless upbeat anthems focused on her growing fame. Steamrolling off the success of I’m A Moth!!, this EP dropping in April is one to look out for.
Lia Lia, you are an exciting up-and-coming artist from Berlin, who has taken the internet by storm with your anime-like fashion and gritty lyricism. Who would you describe the artist Lia Lia as, for those who aren’t yet familiar with you?
Hey I‘m Lia Lia, but friends can call me Lia (it’s my birth name). My mum is German, and my dad is Chinese, I grew up in between (literally). I like to write, sing, and make videos. When I’m sad I binge watch anime. My favourite snack is blueberry jelly! My music is something between punk pop rock and sad melancholic vibes and the lyrics are mostly autobiographical with a bit of added surrealism.
Of course, after your early releases such as the debut single Olymp in 2017 you caught the eye of Doja Cat, who you then supported in a string of German shows. How did that feel, and what did you learn from that experience?
I direct messaged Yeti (Doja Cat’s Producer) when I saw that she was playing shows in Germany, just to try my luck. They already had an opener but then 4 hours before the show Yeti texted me back and said the other artist had cancelled. I couldn’t believe it, I got booked for her whole German tour! 4 hours later I stood in the same venue as Doja! One day later we were drinking Champagne together. I’m very fond of those memories and I learned to just always try your luck, you’ll never know what can happen…
I’m a Moth!!, your heartfelt and bold first single from the EP Love & Melancholy, screams raw energy and conveys your eventual gutsy pride to be a moth, after familiarising yourself to the unknown cityscape of Moscow and battling feelings of self-doubt and confusion, as your character didn’t emerge as a colourful butterfly. Do you consider this single to be an anthem for teens struggling to find their place while constantly comparing themselves to others they consider to be ‘better’ than them, who should be proud and unapologetic of their identities?
Totally! For teens and for everybody, really! I personally struggled with getting to a place where you start to love and accept yourself. coming to terms with who you truly are, without wanting to be someone else, gives you so much new confidence!
I find it very interesting that you chose Moscow to be the setting of your music video, which centres around the moth rockstar. I read that you found it hard to communicate while there, as someone who doesn’t speak Russian. Does the choice to film in a city that views you as a stranger allude to your struggle of finding a place where you fit in, as you grew up partly in a small German village and partly in the metropolis Chengdu in China?
To be totally honest, and I was so surprised by this - Moscow was the city where I blended in the most ever! I fit right in until I opened my mouth. Since Russia has a huge Asian Minority, the crowd is a broad European/Asian Mix, almost like me. I loved the people I met and new friends I made. The current circumstances are so heart-breaking. My heart is hurting for the people of Ukraine who lost their home and lives in the war. And I’m also heartbroken for the Russians who oppose the Government, who are silenced, put into prison and have nowhere to go. Their financial assets are frozen, their economy will crash and they don’t have any chance to flee from the country, and who will give them a visa? Fuck the war!
You had the vision for this music video and its story by yourself, and I read that when you write music you also see the accompanying story for it in your head. Can we expect any big, crazy concept music videos from you in the future?
When I write music, it always plays like a movie in my head. I’ve always written, co-directed, produced and edited my videos before. This was the first time I directed everything myself. I don’t know if “big and crazy” would be the right description, I just wanna keep things as real, honest and true to myself to portrait the songs closest visually as I feel them. If I can convey my feelings in their truest form to the viewer and make them feel as well, that would be my greatest success!
How did it feel for I’m a Moth!! to become the cover of Spotify’s Punk Unleashed?
I couldn’t believe when I saw it! I didn’t think I would already get a Spotify Cover! But you have to admit the moth artwork just looks great on the app (laughs).
Reading your i-D article, I saw that you identify as “baby punk,” which is a sort of hybrid between the fearless and guttural punk ideologies you follow, and the adorable, pastel, almost kidcore parts of you. Do you still subscribe to this label, and if so, how do you think being “baby punk” sets you apart from other artists?
I don’t think I’m “baby punk” anymore - it was a concept originally inspired by Tokyo and the Anime Nana! I was super heart broken during that time and my trip to Tokyo back then was my salvation. Baby punk was like the first version of Lia Lia, another character, maybe just another era, and I was hiding behind that. But when I’m totally honest with myself, I’m not really that badass bi*ch demon slayer, even though I wanted to be! A lot of shit has happened in my life and I’m much much more vulnerable. I wasn’t ready to talk about that back then. But I think I’m ready now! I’m ready to take off all the layers I was hiding behind and be myself.
Aside from taking over the planet, what is your dream as a musician? Is there somewhere specific you yearn to play at, or an artist you dream of collaborating with?
I think that I just want to reach as many people as possible. If I could somehow make them feel less lonely and more understood, that would be my ultimate goal. I’m happiest when I get to sing and make music, it makes a lot of my worries disappear and I’d hope to make others feel the same! This world can be so dark!