Lucy Tun holds a mirror up to the collective face of her generation so closely they can see their breath on it. But the Burmese-British artist is interested in more than strategic angles, tricks of light and carefully crafted illusion – she’s searching for the real image.
Her latest EP Unreal traces the blurred line where fantasy ends and reality begins; the mascara-smeared, screen-smashed collision between your curated world and the facts that fall short. And it’s there, that in-between space of drifting away with a daydream while being harshly tethered to earth, that you’ll find Lucy Tun – and every twenty-something who feels a pang of resonance in her music. For the first time since her artistic reincarnation from LCYTN to her complete name, a choice driven by maturity and a statement of commitment to her vision, Lucy is in soft-focus: no longer content to be the main character, Unreal sees her flip her camera lens to the world around her.
Its seven tracks are a box of pop confections, each with its own distinct, floor-filling flavour – a distraction from a bitter aftertaste. Lucy’s instinct for this tension in her music was clear from the beginning with her self-released 2018 debut EP, Good Nights Bad Stories. Her love of Mitski melted into the Odd Future mixtapes borrowed from her older brother – and so her diaristic, indie-indebted lyrics became inseparable from her command of collar-grabbing 808s; difficult feelings were caught on a tide of electronic grooves. It’s a hybrid of sounds drawn from an entire internet’s worth of influences.
Lucy’s first project was written, produced, mixed and mastered entirely solo, all while she was juggling life as a student. Her success birthed a parallel world for Lucy, one where her 2019 single ‘Ride’ amassed over half a million Spotify streams while she was taking bambi-steps into adulthood; one where she was courted by the fashion world, DJing for Gucci and ROTATE, while answering to the complexities of responsibility, love and loneliness.
Unreal, however, arrived after a period of musical paralysis. She graduated from university and stumbled into a pandemic, trying to carve a place for herself in a world upended. She chose to take her time in answering the question of ‘what next?’, and when her previous work as LCYTN was mired with self-doubt, this time, Lucy Tun is firmly in the driver’s seat: “There’s no going back now.”
Rather than yielding to an internalised pressure to complicate her sound, Unreal sees her lean into her pop instincts where simplicity is not a criticism but a virtue. More than a songwriter, she is a storyteller, with each of its seven tracks marking the turning of another chapter in a self-contained world. Lucy captures their essence with buzzwords; mental mood boards to stay focused on her intention: change; disconnect, time; obsession; travel; miscommunication; fun – all bound up in the contradictions of what it means to be Unreal.
Lead single ‘Kulture Klub’ is a glossy blind item from the fashion world, spilling the truth behind “that girl” on your timeline. Lucy’s honeyed voice over its trap-influenced chorus tempts you to lose sight of the story, just as the veneer of new jeans and Jacquemus handbags can distract you from the cracks they conceal: “New face in the mirror, well-dressed, depressed.” She shares, “I think that this is something that people in their twenties feel quite a lot: having this idealised life whilst also trying to live in the moment… always needing something more, always striving towards something unattainable.”
The delirious, disco-driven ‘Diary’ delves further into the disappointment you feel when your expectations don’t align with your reality. It follows the story of finally meeting someone you idolise, only for them to let you down. It was made with her closest collaborator, the Juno-6 synthesiser. Having earned her stripes making digital music, plundering the internet for samples, the opportunity to play with analogue equipment sparked a new obsession. “Rabbit Hole”, a mind-altering freefall through space and time, which Lucy describes as “the ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ of the project”, was also ushered into life with the synthesiser. The song’s frenetic energy was inspired equally by The Prodigy as it was her own frustrations toward herself, the growing pains of adulthood and inheriting a dysfunctional world. “It’s all about change,” Lucy explains. “It definitely felt like a bit of an existential crisis, at times. It entails a lot of fear, a lot of rage…”
‘ADHD’ is a skittering translation of the pace of her mind in fragmented diary entries. Fizzing synths bounce off the walls with manic trap bass drops, capturing the restlessness she feels jumping from thought to thought. One place her mind landed was an ‘Airport Smoking Room’; she was fascinated by the unspoken connection between strangers caught in a liminal space, the feeling of being “on your way to nowhere”. Inspired by The Terminal (2004), her breezy observations betray a sense of loneliness: “You’re not saying a single word, but you’re sharing this experience together with overlapping stories – and I felt a sense of compassion because of that.”
Taking a nocturnal, inky turn, ‘Clementine’ is an aching portrayal of confusion and suppressed feelings; another way of negotiating between rose-tinted fantasies and the cold light of day. “It’s about discovering what, or who, you want,” she explains. “You go to bed dreaming of someone else, but the next morning there’s another person in your bed.” But Lucy intends to draw the curtain on an era of autobiographical love songs: ‘Bad Signals’ marks an end to LCYTN, an end to her coming-of-age story, and heralds a new beginning as a woman, an artist and a storyteller. She states, “I want to reach a point where I don’t have to look back, and I can only look forward. I’m moving onto the next chapter.”
Lucy Tun ‘Kulture Klub’ – TikTok Stats: Combined views: 166M Combined likes: 11M Combined creations: 167k #1 on TikTok Hot 50 + & Top 10 for x7 consecutive months