LYN LAPID’S HEARTFELT LYRICISM & VIRALITY IN HER RISE TO SUCCESS: AN EXCLUSIVE CONVERSATION FROM 88RISING’S HEAD IN THE CLOUDS

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Words / Jennalynn Fung

Photos / Michelle Sy

It’s a classic story reimagined within modern parameters: a dreamer who against all warnings defies the rules— and who through trials and tribulations, triumphs. 

It’s rare though, for the catalyst of success to be something so mundane as an acapella that hits upon immediate TikTok virality. Lyn Lapid, however, is just that sort of rare dreamer. 

At 21 years old, the Filipina singer and songwriter hailing from both Baltimore and Columbia cities in Maryland performed at the 2024 88rising’s Head in the Clouds festival in Queens, New York to a crowd full of adoring fans. But she was first discovered by the masses when she released a small clip of her singing about an all-too-common situation – a producer had reached out to her and pushed her to sign contracts. The TikTok, complete with an angelic voice, appropriate eye rolls, a biting caption, and fist thumps went ablaze online, catching the attention of producer Dan Nigro. 

Just 17 at the time, her grip on crafting catchy lyrics while examining the exploitation in the music industry landed her a deal with Mercury Records/Republic Records. It’s that same unfiltered truth and casual honesty in lyricism that has turned Lapid into a star among Gen Z and Asian musicians; her acclaimed to love in the 21st century EP is about a situationship— detailing their first meet-up in the song “poster boy,” the days they spent together in “do u really” ft. Ruth B., and the disappointment of what could have been in songs like “ok with it” and “could’ve been you” from her deluxe. Although the situation ultimately brought her a highly anticipated EP, Lapid tells me that if she could, she’d avoid situationships entirely. 

Her reputation extends beyond pen and paper, though; at Lapid’s first Head in the Clouds performance last year in Los Angeles, there was a technical difficulty that led to her going back to how it all started – an acoustic performance, this time of her song “East Side.” This moment distinguished Lapid’s vocals, and in true Lapid-fashion, went viral on all social media platforms (again). 

As if the young artist didn’t command enough power with her disarming voice, she has had a knack for creating funny, crowd-pleaser reels and TikToks. In one, Lapid pretended to be a street interviewer and asked her friends what they thought of her song “cruise control,” to which one friend jokingly snarked, “Love the confidence! Don’t quit your day job.” 

In another TikTok, she talks to the camera like her closest friend, requesting that the internet find the mysterious boy who sat next to her on the flight to Tucson – just so that she could find out what book he was reading. In another, she shows her friends recruiting people to attend her concert through dating apps. 

It isn’t just on Hinge that the singer knows how to market herself. At the very start of her career, she was known as Katelyn Lapid, but later changed it to Lyn Lapid because of her love for alliteration. But her choice to use something so close to her birth name, while altering it to roll right off the tongue, demonstrates her commitment to being herself on stage while also delivering a performance to be remembered. Simply put, she was born to be a musician. 

So many things about Lapid’s artistry seem to date back to the very beginning. For the past few years, she has been a dual-based artist – meaning, she splits her time between Los Angeles and Maryland. She told Atwood Magazine that “going back home keeps [her] grounded” and that it was a crux to her music. If she stayed in LA for too long, she felt she was losing herself, her roots, and her values. Only recently has she moved out of Maryland, but she mentions she always tries to go back, because “East Coast is home.” 

Before her career as a singer, Lapid studied violin for ten years. She mentioned that one of her biggest regrets after finishing school was giving up the violin, but she hasn’t forgotten what she listened to. Her music is still reminiscent of the classical tracks that inspired her when she was younger; “like you want me to,” for example, samples Rachmaninov’s “Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor.”  

Her new album tlit21c as a project speaks volumes about the type of person Lyn Lapid is – she and the album are filled with fearless vulnerability and impeccable storytelling. The accompanying short film brought Lapid’s stories to life, and even casts some of her closest friends, bringing a genuine friendliness and comfort to the entire production. Tlit21c was a poignant reflection on Lapid’s experience with being young and seemingly in love, and writing it helped heal her. “Okay With It” was the last track on the original EP, but “could’ve been you” was the last release on the deluxe version – both came from a place of acceptance of how matters, despite her hopes, panned out. 

“I try to be as relatable as I can, even with super personal, vulnerable songs,” Lapid tells me confidently. “I think that’s how I connect with my audiences – I’m able to touch these very personal situations. I think that’s how I’ve gotten super connected with my fan base, now.”

The release of the EP and its subsequent sold-out national tour also taught her about her own body. She’s learned a lot about what her body can handle too, and how important it was to take a break. “I used to have an unhealthy mindset where if I’m not working or being productive, I’m wasting my time.” But she’s learned through trial and error that rest and recovery go hand-in-hand, and that even with writing sessions, it’s important to give herself a break.

Ironically, on the first day of the Head in the Clouds festival, Lapid did a number of interviews. When I first met her, she looked tired – I asked if she was okay, to which she sincerely smiled and affirmed she was fine. 

During our sit-down interview, I could immediately recognize the hard-earned softness of the singer – she’s been through a lot, but still puts on her best face. She sits politely, hands in her lap and legs crossed, with her shoulders slightly hunched as though she’s trying to take up less space. The way she speaks is light and delicate, even though she’s sick and has just traveled from one side of the country to the other. Her answers are honest and appropriately enthusiastic. Her time and engaging demeanor when she spoke to press and fans, in spite of her cold, showed how thankful she was for the opportunity to make music. 

Lapid reveals she’s working on her debut album, taking inspiration from the musicians around her. Though it’s stressful due to deadlines, Lapid declares that she’s excited by the newness. “I feel like whenever I start new projects and everything, I kind of do a 180 with my sound. I try new things for sure, and all the stuff that I’ve been making has been different from what I put out in the past. I realized that I love making R&B – ‘in my mind’ was in that space.” She also divulges that this album has components of jazz, inspired by both classic artists like Ella Fitzgerald and new artists like Laufey. 

Her next single is set to release May 17th, 2024, and is a collaboration with Mxmtoon called “back from the dead.” The song is about a person who messages her out of nowhere after time apart – but Lapid tries to understand their motives for returning, and writes poignantly about how they’ve grown since their separation. 

The lyrics for “back from the dead” had actually been written a year ago, produced with Adam Yaron and Russ Chell, but she brought it out of the drafts for Mxmtoon. It’s a full circle moment— Lapid attended her first Head in the Clouds festival because Mxmtoon was part of the lineup. Now, a year later, she is on the lineup herself and working with Mxmtoon herself, an artist she finds deeply inspirational. 

In just a few years, Lapid has accomplished exactly what she dreamed of. The next step? “I just want to be able to keep making music and performing and going on tour and everything; all of those things I still love to do, and will love to do forever in the future.”

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