Lyra Pramuk fuses classical training, pop sensibilities, performance practices and contemporary club culture in what may best be described as futurist folk music. While the American operatically-trained vocalist and electronic musician is perhaps previously best known for her work with musical collaborators such as Holly Herndon and Colin Self, she has just released her critically-acclaimed debut album, Fountain, via Iceland’s Bedroom Community label in March 2020.
Created entirely from her own voice, although often shaped and structured by electronics, Fountain is an emotional, sensual, and devotional journey. The title is derived from her family name, Pramuk, which translates from Czech as ‘well spring’ or ‘fountain.’ Often wordless, these songs evoke a new wholeness sustained by the ritual force of drowning, immersion, cleansing, and bathing – also referred to in the album artwork by acclaimed visual artist Donna Huanca. Fountain plays with the perception of music, rhythms, speech, body, and the relation between technology and humanity, exploring a post-human, non-binary understanding of life and the fragile ecosystems it depends on. The work documents a healing that is still in process, and a full circle-moment that reunited Lyra with her sound engineer twin brother, Ben, for the final mix, which they completed in tandem.
As a vocal activist and member of the queer community, Fountain’s creation also coincided with a personal rejuvenation for its author. Its completion culminated in the live premiere of the album material at Unsound Festival in Krakow in 2019, where she performed through a multi-channel array designed by Ben Frost, opening for Sunn O))) and Roly Porter. A closer collaboration with Frost on a soundtrack for a new film project will be announced in 2021. Her performance at Berghain on 30 January for CTM Festival in her hometown of Berlin offered an even more confident and joyous realization of the album’s song cycle.
Lyra moved to Berlin in 2013 as a DAAD postgraduate study scholarship recipient, following her degree at the Eastman School of Music in New York. Since then, she has also been awarded residencies at Elektronmusikstudion EMS Stockholm, Open Port Club Residency in Tokyo and Sapporo, and Future Music Lab of the Atlantic Music Festival in Maine. Her interests also encompass writing, poetry, and fashion, where she is sometimes called upon as a model. As a performance artist, she has collaborated extensively with Donna Huanca and at events such as Glasgow International and the Rochester Fringe Festival.