Macon, Georgia, the city famous for the seminal sounds of southern rock and soul that seemed to endlessly pour out of Capricorn Records throughout the 1970s, has always been a hotbed for incredible and dynamic music. So it only seems fitting that Macon would be the birthplace of Ryn Elise, co-founder, and lead singer of Lucibelle. Formed in 2019 by guitarist/producer Robert Sandifer and vocalist/pianist Ryn Elise, the band was then joined by drummer Colin Vana, which ushered in a new evolution of sound that Lucibelle describes as “alternative, southern pop”. Their recent single, “Dibs On U”, utilizes driving drums, melodic synth, and heavy guitars to create a beautiful canvas on which poignant and sincere lyrics are laid. I had the pleasure of speaking with Ryn about Lucibelle’s amazing style and their upcoming show at JBA on January 21st.
MM: I’ve seen your style described as “alternative pop”, so could you talk about what you think that means?
Ryn: We actually had someone writing an article about our song “Sad Girl” and they replied with, “You’re too indie to be pop, but you’re too sad to be indie,” and when they said that, I knew it had to go on a t-shirt. I think that’s my favorite possible description.
The band is going to be at JBA– will this be the first time you’ve played there?
We’ve played there probably more than a year ago as an acoustic duo. But this will be our first time as Lucibelle.
Yeah, I read that you played as a duo of just yourself and producer Robert Sandifer for a while before your drummer joined. How was that transition for you?
Back when I first started many years ago, I would play solo piano and sing, but then I met Robert Sandifer, who began playing acoustic guitar with me, so we did the piano/guitar thing. I think we had been wanting to do a full band thing for a while so it kind of organically came together. We transitioned into a duo and now are we are today!
That’s very cool. Since you started your musical journey as a [solo] singer/songwriter, does that have any impact on how you compose songs now?
I am the sole lyricist in the Lucibelle. I always try to put 100% vulnerability into my songs unless I’m trying to specifically write a pop song. But the funny thing is when I’m writing a song with the band now, [Robert and Colin} typically don’t listen to lyrics they usually only listen for melody. So a lot of times they won’t even know what the words to songs are. But the cool thing about that is they have helped me develop better melodies ’cause that’s what they’re listening for. I feel like I have actually grown as a writer in that respect from playing with them. Because people listen for melody first.
“Dibs On U” is Lucibelle’s most recent single, and since you’re the sole lyricist can we talk about the genesis of that song?
I’m very nostalgic in general. I’ve always kept trinkets and pictures that are so old and having said that, I remember tons of both good memories and bad memories. It’s kind of a melting pot. This specific song [is] about a friend I used to have. We were very close growing up and I was pretty quirky as a kid and a teenager. I loved people, but I also had a hard time connecting with people in a way, but this friend happened to get me. We spent a lot of time together just talking and she really seemed to get me, and I just had lots of good memories there, so it was kind of about that. But there was also a really dark time in my life where I was questioning whether or not I wanted to live, and when I got that low, I actually called her, and she immediately met up with me and we chatted, and she was super supportive so “Dibs On U” is about that friendship.
I saw a quote about your music and that it had evolved from “dreamy” and “experimental” to more upbeat, alternative pop. Could we talk about what caused that change?
We’re always evolving, we’ve actually started experimenting with post-rock. But back when I was young, I played gospel music and contemporary Christian stuff like Hillsong, you know, all those just guitar-driven, dreamy atmospheric songs. So when I went out on my own to play my own music, I took those influences with me, but after a while, I started looking for something more upbeat and in your face. I realized that we couldn’t really achieve that without a drummer. ‘Cause before, Robert would program our drums with a program called Superior Drummer, which he would write. Now that we have our drummer Colin, he writes all the drums, and having him, I feel like has really made our songwriting better. For instance in our recent single, “Dibs On U”, he wrote the beat to that and he also wrote the drums on our upcoming single “Gemini”. So as we’ve been practicing and playing together, we added the atmospheric guitar back into the drum-heavy pop and it just came full circle.
What’s the plan for future releases this year? Because you said you have one single, “Gemini”, coming out in the next few months?
We’ve gone back and forth. Before we scheduled this gig, we were actually actively writing an album, but then we got kind of bored. We miss gigging. We wanna do shows, and so we started practicing again. Long story short, we had written about five new songs at the time, which is the length of an EP, but we went back into the vault of songs that just Robert and I had written in 2020 which were actually more post-rock. We when we started taking those out, we began taking all the songs and kind of meeting in the middle with them. So there’s probably around ten that we could release. We’re just playing it by ear!