Embracing a dual identity releasing new music under her real name, LUCY TUN / LCYTN is the chameleonic singer and DJ finding inspiration in genre-fluidity, digital subcultures and her own coming of age.

In 2018, Lucy Tun — then known through her tracks as LCYTN — had promised her parents that she would hit pause on her music passion to focus on her Economics degree. Only on a family trip to Burma, where her bilingual lyrics had attracted a fast-growing fan base, did her parents find out that she had not in fact abandoned her music dream. Far from it, fans were recognising her from billboard ads and approaching her in public.


A plot twist like a main character identity reveal would usually be the makings of a third act conflict, but for Lucy Tun it was just the beginning. This year, with two EPs around the corner and a full album scheduled for 2022, she’s reintroducing herself without the moniker. There’s power in a name, and I’m curious about the reasons behind the rebrand. “I have a clear objective now. I don’t want to feel limited in my identity as an artist,” she explains. “Becoming more known and more visible has been a big personal change, and I’m still taking it all in. I’m naturally quite a sensitive and anxious person, so sometimes the feeling of having eyes on you will make you a little selfconscious and less experimental.” Her visibility in the public eye has recalibrated her vision of success, too. “I guess it’s all about finding that sweet spot between wanting to give my fans something to enjoy and wanting to create something new for myself.”


Lucy’s Burmese identity is in many ways the driving force behind her pursuit of creative freedom. Burma, or Myanmar, is a Southeast Asian country where free speech and digital media censorship are ongoing matters of contention. “I was aware that the creative scenes in Myanmar and the UK were completely different, but making music in both places has opened my eyes to the value of expression,” Lucy says. “I always saw myself to be moving against the tide and moving against stereotypes, starting with my parents’ wariness of non-traditional career paths — which I’m sure many children of first-generation diaspora parents will relate to. Now I have a better appreciation of their perspective.”


Then there’s the internet, which Lucy cites as her muse. “I guess it’s weird to say that the internet is a subculture now, but it definitely was a subculture when I discovered YouTube back in 2007. Gaming culture, Nintendo specifically, was a bonding activity growing up. I had internet friends who were also creatives. Actually, one of them joined me on my first EP and that is kind of how it all started for me. I learned to produce online, I learned to DJ on digital before vinyl, so the internet is probably one of my greatest inspirations.”


Now, Lucy sees a golden era for Asian women in music and recalls how the music scene has shifted since her childhood. “The first time I saw Asians killing it in mainstream music was in the rise of J-pop and K-pop. When I was younger there wasn’t really any conversation about Asians in music. Now we have Peggy Gou, Yaeji, Rina Sawayama, Olivia Rodrigo. I’m proud to be representing Southeast Asia in particular.”


Her upcoming work will visit the themes of womanhood, introspection, taking risks and coming of age, delving deeper than her first EP— 2018’s Good Nights Bad Stories — the songwriting on which Lucy looks back critically. “The lyrics weren’t necessarily my best work. I was a first year uni student, and my focus was on having fun and creating new experiences — I never wanted to delve too deep,” she explains. But DJing has given her an edge as a songwriter. “I knew when I started music that I wanted to diversify my sound, so I spent seven or eight months learning how to DJ. From behind the decks there is some comfort in invisibility. It’s therapeutic.” It’s also a learning experience that has nurtured a greater appreciation for style and production. “Growing up, I just listened to whatever was immediate to me. DJing opened doors to a side of music I hadn’t imagined — there are songs without lyrics, songs without any inherent meaning, songs that are just pure serotonin. Then there’s the fact that it’s not your own music. It’s comforting and humbling at the same time.”


She dreams of future collaborations with artists like Pharrell and Kevin Parker (aka Tame Impala), and I can almost hear it already. “Pharrell has such a great philosophy of success — you have to try and fail to succeed,” Lucy tells me. “I’ve always been inspired by him. He has N.E.R.D., The Neptunes, his own solo art, and so many unexpected collaborations in music and business. Tame Impala is also fascinating to me. The fact that he is a solo artist but he’s often mistaken for a band, that’s the kind of range I aspire to achieve.”


For now, Lucy seeks fluency — from her thoughts to her lyrics, from LCYTN to Lucy Tun, from English to Burmese, and interestingly, from music to fashion. “I feel like any strong songwriter is also an amazing communicator, not just with words, but with telling visual stories too. I have always been interested in fashion and sometimes I make my own clothes. Yes, I knit and crochet, it’s my latest Gen Z personality trait!” she laughs. “It’s summer now, but when it gets colder you’ll see me in an obnoxiously colourful crochet hat or something…”


“I feel most at ease when it’s just me in my room, just making whatever I feel like, dressed up in something mismatched and colourful and wacky. My friends will lovingly give me the side-eye for it, but like Pharrell said — no success without failure.”

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