Byron Bay singer songwriter Kyle Lionhart has released his highly anticipated new single, SHELTER – his first new music in nearly two years. Kyle Lionhart is an Australian singer-songwriter who has honed his craft and built an extremely loyal fanbase by busking on the streets and beaches of his hometown Byron Bay. Musically, Kyle’s sound has raised comparisons to the likes of Ben Harper and Matt Corby. His honest and poetic songwriting explores relationships of love, death, friendships and the sometimes harsh realities of them. Kyle talks to Hi Fi Way about the single and what’s to come.
Congratulations on your single Shelter, have you been blown away by the reaction?
I think one of my favourite parts about being an artist that has built his fan base almost purely from either word of mouth or people stumbling across me busking on the streets of Byron Bay is my fans are more or less fans for life and no matter what I release they get behind me and love the crap out of it, I say this within reason of course; I’m sure they wouldn’t be as supportive if I released a heavy metal/jazz fusion record.
What is the story behind the single?
I wrote Shelter in the winter of 2021, at this point it had been a little over a year since Covid had turned our lives upside down. What I had gone through personally in that time was one of the hardest years I’ve had in my life. It’s was confronting for me to stop and realise all the personal & relational issues I had been hiding from with touring and the constant pressure to “succeed”. For a brief moment I lost everything I told myself I was doing it all for; my partner, my sons, my friends barely knew who I was and neither did I. So I wrote this song as a clear reminder to never let myself lose everything that’s important to me again. Because without them, what was it all for?
After the challenges of the last couple of years it must be a huge weight off knowing the music is back in a big way?
To be honest, I’m still getting used to the idea of it again. It almost doesn’t feel real, I still treat every show as if it’s not gonna happen and then I find myself on stage wishing I was better prepared haha!
Did this period test your own personal resilience?
It was the hardest mental battle I’ve had in many, many years. I’d spent the last four to five years of my life touring, chasing, feeding the hungry ghost, always out the door to the next show and well, when you’re forced to stop and reflect on where you are and what you had to give up to be where you are in your career, it’s usually not pretty. It’s a daunting task picking up the pieces and trying to rebuild what you’ve neglected for that long but you get song like Shelter out of it so some might say it’s worth it.
Was it hard being creative and coming up with new songs during this time?
I thought it was going to be but after I started my work on trying to rebuild the other facets of my life I had neglected the songs came shortly after and there was a lot of them.
Do you think your sound has changed much?
Hmm, I don’t think so, I mean I’m always pushing the boundaries but I’m a sucker for a good folk song so my roots stay pretty close to home. In saying this though I really wanna do a blues/soul album.
Are there plans for an album?
Absolutely! I’ve got so much music to share, we haven’t got any official dates yet but it’s very close.
Who are some of your musical heroes that have inspired this new batch of songs?
I was listening to loads of old Ben Harper, Donny Hathaway, Coldplay and Kacey Musgraves before jumping in the studio to record this album. These artists shaped the production on this album, that’s for sure.
How exciting is it to be back on the road?
Like I said before, it still doesn’t quiet feel real. But I know this, I’ve never been more appreciative for my fans and what they allow me to do.
What’s next for Kyle Lionhart?
I’ve had over two years to think of this and the answer I came to was “I was only just getting started”. I’ve got so much more I want to share with the world and it starts with these upcoming songs and the way I’ll be sharing them both live and online.
Interview By Rob Lyon