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Lucy Wroe

Lucy Wroe delivered cultivated consolation in her allegory of heartbreak, Heartbeat Wipers

The Last Dinner Party may have faced a massive backlash after declaring that people want artful escapism instead of post-punk expositions on the cost-of-living crisis, but with her latest single, Heartbeat Wipers, the London-based singer-songwriter, Lucy Wroe, who describes herself as a lovechild of Jessie Ware and the Weeknd, made a compelling case for the catharsis of artfully composed productions.

Every element, from the ornate piano keys to the brooding basslines and the increasing intensity of the synths, in Heartbeat Wipers amplifies the emotional theme of finding strength in independence after losing the person you lent on the most. From the ethereal grace of the intro to the disquietness when the instrumental arrangement amasses intricate all-consuming complexities, each progression is a new chapter in the redemption story that everyone, on some level, can relate to.

The haunting reprise of ‘The same goodbye a million times and I…’ underpins the aura of mourning within the release without overbearing it, ensuring that Heartbeat Wipers, which started with a sample of the mechanical swipes of windscreen wipers batting away torrential rain, is as consoling as it is cultivated.

Heartbeat Wipers was officially released on April 5th; stream the single on SoundCloud.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

In Conversation with London’s Queen of Indie Candour, Lucy Wroe

Today, we’re thrilled to welcome Lucy Wroe to A&R Factory, a paragon of authenticity in London’s indie music scene. As we sit down amidst the anticipation of her latest single, “Heartbeat Wipers,” set to grace our ears on April 5th, Lucy offers us a glimpse into the emotional odyssey that shaped this deeply personal track. From the lingering echoes of a past relationship to the artistic metamorphosis it spurred, join us as we delve into the heart of Lucy’s musical journey, exploring the intricate layers of her latest creation and the ripples she aims to create in the music industry.

Lucy Wroe, welcome to A&R Factory; we’d love to dive into the emotional themes of your upcoming single, Heartbeat Wipers, which is due for release on April 5th. What does the single lyrically explore?

Thanks for chatting to me about my upcoming single! Heartbeat Wipers is definitely the most emotional song I’ve written. It’s really about having to move on from someone and feeling the empty space that is left behind. It’s partly coming to terms with that loss but also accepting that you’ll always carry a part of them with you. Some of the verse lyrics are more specifically about that person still existing in your life but in a different way, and having to resist that weak spot of returning to them; ‘You are the water seeping through the cracks, the wolf watching the door’.

The single feels incredibly personal. Could you share the story or inspiration behind Heartbeat Wipers and what makes it so special to you?

Yes I have put a lot of myself in this one, it’s about a long-term relationship that ended last year. The person in question is also a long-time collaborator of mine who I still work with now. It was a very strange time because we agreed we needed to move on to separate spaces, but equally knew we needed to continue working together. So we’ve been muddling our way through this shift in our relationship and working out how to make music together while living separate lives. In a way, having to carry on working with them made me swallow a lot of the grief I felt in this period, so when I started writing ‘Heartbeat Wipers’ it was a real outlet of all this pent-up sadness, confusion, loss and frustration.

The lyric ‘Same goodbye a million times, and I…’ seems to be quite poignant. Could you elaborate on its significance in the song and the emotional journey it represents?

This was the big lyric for me, when I came out with it I realised how affected I had actually been by this relationship ending. It’s the statement that encapsulates the whole meaning of the song; feeling like an essential part of you has been taken away, but having to see them every day and maintain peace between you. Of course this was a decision we made, because I didn’t want to lose our friendship or working relationship. But working alongside them, then walking away, feels like leaving each other over and over again. Like the ending is repeated and the feeling of loss is fresh each time.

What do you hope your listeners take away from Heartbeat Wipers?

I hope this song can act as a catharsis for anyone out there who has experienced this loss, although it’s quite a rare situation haha! But it can also relate to any feelings of loneliness and change; I always feel it’s good to confront these things and get it all out (sometimes everyone needs a good cry). I actually have a playlist called ‘Have a good cry, go on’, because I have a bad habit of bottling things up and pushing on, until I feel it all coming to the forefront. The songs on there definitely help me get it all out, so maybe Heartbeat Wipers can become an official part of everyone’s ‘have a good cry, go on’ playlists! Who knows you might just feel totally refreshed.

You mentioned that each of your releases is completely fresh. How does Heartbeat Wipers represent your evolution as an artist compared to your previous work?

Mm I love to change things up. This song is the first I will release with Philipp Koerver, who I have played alongside since 2018 but never properly written with, so the style is quite different. My previous releases have gone from folky acoustic stuff with my first single and EP, to the smoother jazzy EP ‘Same World’, to punchy produced pop with ‘Better’ and more lofi-pop with my recent EP ‘WAVES’. ‘Heartbeat Wipers’ is almost a combination of all these influences, with some very lofi/indie production styles and samples partnered with those chill indie instrumental foundations. Creatively I feel I’ve definitely evolved a lot with production and structure; I love how this song develops, it’s so dynamic but also really tender and there’s a lot of detail throughout. I’ve become much less formulaic with my songwriting over time as I’m actively embracing that natural flow of creativity these days and thinking less about what’s popular.

Can you walk us through the creative process of Heartbeat Wipers, particularly the detailed production and structure?

There’s so much to say here I’d love to do a whole interview just on the production elements!! So I was in the back of an Uber one evening near Dalston, stuck in traffic in torrential rain. All I could hear was the heavy rain on the roof, and rhythmic windscreen wipers which I captured in a voice-note, threw into a session and played an acoustic guitar riff over. I wrote the first two verses straight away and took this to Philipp (co-writer and producer), as I knew this track would suit his production style really well. We spent a few months working into the evenings at his flat and in the studio, building on my demo starting with the original guitar line which quickly changed into a synth. Each section has these layers which come and go and they’re all so unique to the moment. Like the end of the second verse with that growing bass and synth-wash; that was inspired by a moment in ‘And Dream of Sheep’ by Kate Bush. Also in the third verse with the fleeting reverb tail on the vocals or the dancing guitar patterns that enter halfway through. The whole end section with the building vocal layers was re-structured about three times because it never had the impact it needed. In the end, we scrapped it entirely and started from the most basic layers, then began weaving together vocal lines until it grew to the highest point we could get it. One of the most inspired details we added right at the end is the B in the bass that steps up the big ending, it hits such a lamenting note there and it always gives me that swelling feeling in my chest, it really made the whole end section work.

The forthcoming music video sounds fascinating. What was the concept behind the cinematics of the video, and how does it complement the song?

Yes! So excited to release this video. It was filmed at GOOT studios in Dalston, really close to where I captured the wipers sample last year. Max, who runs GOOT, is an amazing videographer who I met last year and knew I’d love to work with on this project. The concept was to create a vision of what it’s like in my head, to capture a real sense of isolation and melancholy. Each main shot shows me in a static pose under a hazy blue light, and gradually zooms in over the course of the video, ending on an extreme close-up of my face for the final line. I wanted it to reflect the gradual build-up of the song, so as the shots zoom in, the edits also get quicker. Only one of the shots shows me singing and that is direct to the camera, as we wanted it to feel more like the viewer is seeing a private moment in my head, with one shot voicing my thoughts. It represents more of a feeling and a moment in time rather than a narrative. The blue light was essential to get the feeling across too, so it’s very dark and focused, as I imagined it would be inside my head at the time I was feeling all these things.

You’ve expressed a desire to support change in the industry for independent artists. What are the positive changes you want to see reflected in the music industry?

Absolutely, I’ve come to realise that when you first join a music scene, especially in London, it’s easy to get dragged into the ethos of ‘take every gig, listen to everyone’s advice, do everything because you never know’. But in truth, that’s an environment tailored to those who act as ‘gatekeepers’ and hold their status by making you think you’re at their will. Especially as a woman in the industry, it’s easy to go along with things and feel you have to endure them just for a potential breakthrough. I want to be an advocate for inclusive spaces, and for spaces that allow autonomy for independent musicians. Fair pay is a massive topic; exposure is not payment, and some promoters have just become booking agents, pushing all the actual promotion onto the artist. Social media can be a great thing, but I want it to be an additional tool, not the core of a musician’s life. It just feels like there is a chasm forming between the top 5% and everyone else, which is dangerous for artists in my position. I especially want to see streaming platforms value every stream equally, so if there are artists who have worked hard to grow a regular listenership, they will get the payment they deserve even if the algorithm doesn’t catapult them onto ‘New Music Friday’. Independent blogs, just like this one, and sites like Bandcamp, represent the industry that I want to support. They help you build a real, lasting community, and give you the encouragement and support you need to carry on making music.

Looking ahead, are there any upcoming projects you’re particularly excited about?

Always! I’ve been working with my good friend and producer Tom B on a couple of new things – both very different! The next release we are planning is a world away from ‘Heartbeat Wipers’; it’s actually fuelled by my anger about the modern music industry haha. It’s inspired by more electronic and experimental artists like Sophie, Charli XCX and Caroline Polachek. It’s wildly dynamic and uses a lot of vocal effects and processed samples, so that should be a fun release! We are also finishing a chill, dream-pop style song, more reminiscent of Wave ‘22. And then who knows! Hopefully a lot of exciting visuals, some gigs and summer festivals. But for now, Heartbeat Wipers is occupying my entire existence. I’m so excited to get it out there and I hope it reaches new people who can love it as much as I do…

Stream Heartbeat Wipers on all major platforms from April 5th.

Follow Lucy Wroe on Instagram and Facebook.

Interview by Amelia Vandergast