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The O.K. Show, Episode 5: Lydia Liza on empathy, anxiety, and staying grounded in the music business

Photos by Nate Ryan/MPR
Photos by Nate Ryan/MPR
  Play Now [40:15]

by Andrea Swensson

October 21, 2015

Lydia Liza, known off stage as Lydia Hoglund, got her start fronting the band Bomba de Luz and put out her first EP when she was just 16 years old. She was already leaps and bounds ahead of other Twin Cities musicians in many different ways - she was taking songwriting classes at McNally Smith from Jeremy Messersmith, she was booking her own shows and playing several nights a week, and she was commanding listeners with her huge, booming, elastic voice, which sounds like it’s coming out of another time and place all together.

Since then she’s gone on to guest on many different projects, including Toki Wright and Big Cats’ Pangaea, and she joined Toki on the road as a member of his live band. She’s also established herself as a solo performer, but has yet to release much material under her own name. We’ll get to more of the why behind that in today’s conversation.

Lydia is still only 20—she is getting ready to celebrate her 21st birthday at the end of the month—but she strikes me as an old soul. She bursts forth with a giddy, youthful energy, but seems to understand people and connect with her audience and her peers on an emotional level in a way that’s difficult for the rest of us. Being empathetic comes with a cost, and that’s a trade-off Lydia has been reckoning with in recent years. At the beginning of this year, she hit a wall, and a mental health crisis landed her in the ER, followed by both inpatient and outpatient treatment centers.

On the way to talking about her health and recovery, Lydia touched on just about every topic imaginable. We ended up talking about feminism, about anxiety, about Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift, about the pressure we place on celebrities and the pressures she’s placed on herself. We felt all the feelings and covered all the things. And I hope you enjoy our conversation.

Don't forget to subscribe to the O.K. Show on Feedburner and iTunes. A new episode will be released every Wednesday.




The O.K. Show, Episode One: A candid discussion on mental health with Charlie Van Stee

The O.K. Show, Episode Two: Mary Beth Mueller and her one-woman crusade against cancer

The O.K. Show, Episode Three: Adam Levy’s devastating loss and beautiful new solo album

The O.K. Show, Episode Four: Irv Williams, the elder statesman of Twin Cities jazz

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This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.