Perfect Melding of Space and Time: An Interview with Lia Menaker

Photo courtesy of Liora Arianna Photography
As Lia Menaker was in the process of finishing her EP, I Am Kyrøs, she hadn’t yet named the album but had stumbled across the Greek term referring to time measured in moments versus through chronological or sequential time.

She had been feeling the need to change the name that she performed under, especially after her entire songwriting process, sound and artistic identity had changed a great deal. Once she learned the meaning of kyrøs, she felt that it suited her perfectly.

She explains:

“It refers specifically to that perfect melding of space and time, when it's the opportune moment to act. It has an almost...spiritual context. And on a very spiritual level, this felt like it described my change as an artist so well. I felt really called to take on the name... But once I took on the name, it was amazing. The 30+ years of thinking of myself as ‘Lia Menaker’ dissipated, and I felt like any obstacles I'd set for myself in my own head had dissolved. I felt a whole new freedom in my writing, and started producing the songs myself, and creating wildly different music on my live streams, and with new looping gear. I felt strangely lighter, and filled with more life and little doubt. I wasn't afraid to try completely new things and in a way felt...just unstoppable.”

The name change came with its fair share of obstacles. While kyrøs gave her a newfound confidence, she soon found out that various artists shared the same name and spelling that caused confusion when she began releasing her singles. She felt heartbroken, she said, because she thought that this was too many steps backward for her liking. But she soon realized something - the songs that she was releasing and had created for the EP were about identity. She was writing songs that she hoped listeners would hear and question reality in hopes that finding answers would ultimately free them. Isn’t clinging to this identity the exact opposite of everything she wanted to stand for?

Naming the album I Am Kyrøs was a bit of a difficult process, but the album in general and its themes were mostly the complete opposite. Menaker said that the topics of these songs were her way of working through what was happening in her life; addressing those struggles came easily and she soon recognized that they were tied together.

“It gave me a place to put all these thoughts and emotions and realizations, and in a way where I could express the layers of it, and see how the themes were all interwoven in my life,” she said. “It helped me accept it all too, instead of resisting it. Each time I played the songs, or worked on them, or even when I play them back now, they hit me a little differently. Over time, writing these songs has really helped me to see these themes and struggles as forms of growth and understanding in my life versus obstacles. And part of it all is realizing just how universal these struggles are. So it felt really good to know I could share these with others, and that maybe others could process, and understand, and let go through listening to them too.”

Each song is meant to get the listener to stop and think beyond every day thoughts, and they do exactly that. The songs are about questioning who you are, how you want to live and how your perspectives can both limit and free yourself. Music is interpreted differently by each individual but regardless of what spark these songs may form, there is a spark there that gives a good reason to question one’s path.

Menaker was finally in the home stretch of releasing I Am Kyrøs when George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer and started the current Black Lives Matter movement. While the world is faced with an ongoing pandemic, injustice towards people of color, police brutality and political corruption, Menaker wanted to make sure she was doing her part to make sure Black voices were heard while still having the privilege of putting art into the world.

“[I] felt that the world needed art more than ever, of all kinds, and since the songs dealt with identity and the Self, it could relate to what was going on in many ways,” she said. “This is a time we are all rethinking our lives, and who we are, our perspectives, and how we want to live, so I felt, in a sense, it was also a great time to release the music, which deals with these very themes.”

She decided to partner with Melanated Social Work, a project advocating to provide health and wellness resources for Black and Brown communities. She is acquainted with one of the founders, Marvin Toliver, and knows him to be a “trustworthy, honest, passionate man/social worker dedicated 100% to fighting for POC.” Melanted Social Work is working to end the stigma around mental health in Black and Brown communities and make sure health professionals are truly culturally competent. By partnering with them, she chose to donate all June and July sales of I Am Kyrøs to them.

Lia Menaker challenged the ideas of identity not only in the songs of her latest EP but in her own career as a musician. She found solace in changing her musical identity and had to find solace again in changing it back. She also found a way to open up a dialogue through her music that challenges the mind and frees the spirit. Through the ups and downs of creating I Am Kyrøs, she learned one important lesson: there may be many artists who utilize the name kyrøs and feel connected to its meaning, but there is only one Lia Menaker.