Written by Stephanie Kleanthous
Illustrated by Emily Birch
I sat down with East London based singer-songwriter, Cici Lara, to discuss her new single ‘Without You’, produced by Tom Gilbertson. We dig deep into her thoughts on love, relationships and her upcoming EP which will be released later on this year.
Cici Lara was born in Spain and raised in a town in Derbyshire. Since moving to London four years ago, the city has shaped and inspired her new R&B style. With her main influences being Solange, Snoh Aalegra and Eliza, she describes her sound as “mellow and movement-based.”
Her new break-up single ‘Without You’ will have you swaying your hips, hairbrush in hand in front of your bedroom mirror this quarantine season.
If you’ve recently left a relationship, or maybe you’re still hung-up on one that ended before the disaster that has been 2020, Cici’s soothing tone is there to remind you you’re better off without them. You are your “only wife”. The perfect sentiment in these isolating times (please stay at home if possible).
Q: Let’s start with who you grew up listening to? Any big inspirations that led you to want to be a singer?
CL: I grew up listening to a whole load of different music. I remember creating dance moves to Britney Spears in the school playground, wanting to be Jamelia singing ‘Superstar’ on Stars In Your Eyes, to screaming out ‘Mr Brightside’ at house parties. Listening to Simply Red and Queen at home, to Rock & Roll music at my mammas and finding my way to R&B through Destiny’s Child and TLC. I’ve gone through a lot but I would say that Beyoncé caught my attention when I was younger. She’s one of the reasons I wanted to get into music.
Q: When did you decide that singing was your calling?
CL: I feel like I started pretty late in the game compared to most musicians. I only started wanting to sing at thirteen and never saw it as a ‘calling’, just something I wanted to do and I guess years later I still want to do it.
Q: What’s your writing process?
CL: My writing process is different for every song. For ‘Without You’ I worked with Tom Gilbertson who created the track first and then I wrote my melody and lyrics on top. Sometimes I take in the lyrics and melody first with chords and start a track from there. Till now, I’ve only ever written my own lyrics which I like just doing in my bedroom and then taking to a session.
Q: This song is about being in love and falling out of it to find yourself – your “only wife” – what can we expect from the rest of your EP?
CL: The EP will be a narration from start to finish of the process of infatuation with another. Not all of them are written from my own personal experience but they show different faces of what love is or could be. ‘Without You’ being about the love that is blind and falling to a better reality.
Q: Do you think it’s possible to know your true self without first losing yourself in another?
CL: I believe everyday we meet people. Some stay around for longer than others, if that’s a stranger, a friend, a lover or a relationship. We figure out in any relationship what we do and don’t like about ourselves when we’re with them and what we’re willing to accept. This helps us to grow into what could be our truest self but I don’t believe it’s the only factor.
Q: “Only these 4 bedroom walls they saw the truth” – do you think it’s difficult to see a relationship for what it truly is while you’re still in it?
CL: Yes. Personally, (and maybe it’s because I’m a Pisces) I am a romantic dreamer. I romanticise everything even when I know the reality. There’s a part of me that always sees the best in people and endings. Looking back at the situations I’ve been in, I’m like ‘wow, how did I not see that, that makes so much sense now’.
Q: It’s an empowering break-up song. You seem very present, in the moment and looking forward to the future. How do you hope your listeners will feel?
CL: Glad you see it like that. When I was writing it, I did want it to have a strong message for women. That through it all we still have ourselves, the only one we can truly depend on. Then, in time, we will be our own wives and we choose to be in a relationship as a bonus, not to make us whole.
Q: Any tips on self-care for those going through a similar situation?
CL: Be kind to yourself. Time changes a lot. Eat well. It’s dangerous to rely on someone for your happiness so concentrate on the things that make you happy on your own.
To celebrate the release of ‘Without You’, Cici Lara will be hosting a launch party on Wednesday 8th April at the iconic East London venue, Sebright Arms. We would love to see you there. Click here for tickets. (If this gets postponed due COVID-19, stay up to date on Dice).