In October 2018, Alice Yet – known to audiences as LYTA – hummed a melody in her kitchen. By the end of the day, that melody evolved into a full-fledged song.
“Sometimes it just happens like that,” says LYTA over the phone with the Houston Press about her recently released single “Are We Okay.” The genre-bending cut finesses pure pop song form, nestling irresistible ear worms in each section, and delicately balances an ambiguous, toxic relationship with breezy soundscapes just in time for summer. Lyrically, LYTA says the song’s lyrics are rooted in a trend of apathetic behaviors in romantic endeavors.
“That was just my perspective on how I thought a lot of relationships that were going on - that people weren’t really expressing themselves all that much. In the song it’s kind of like, ‘Hey, you don’t have to do that. I have your back no matter what. You know because, your demons are my demons and you don’t have to be so cold because no matter what - I’m just here.”
Early into her musical journey, the Alief native joined her high school choir - though it may not have been the constructive experience she envisioned.
“My high school choir teacher actually told me that she didn’t like my voice and that I couldn’t sing in front of the entire class of 50 something people, and I ran out crying, and I never did choir ever again,” says LYTA, who chose to allow the experience to motivate her to become a better musician.
“I think now at 21 I’m like, ‘Oh, okay - I’m glad that happened.’ But I think when I was 16 I was like ‘Oh my God this fucking sucks. Who says that?’”
By age 18, LYTA, the first generation born American daughter of war refugees from Vietnam, fueled her creative energy towards songwriting, citing rap, hip hop, R&B, indie pop, and rock as her major musical influences, and her mother – who began her battle with cancer around the time LYTA began forging her own musical path – as a source of inspiration.
“A lot of the stuff that I was doing in life is just – I do it for her. I do it so that one day I’m able to take care of her, treat her like a queen,” says LYTA, her tone of voice endearing, heartwarming. “I love my mom very, very much.”
In the short three years since she began writing songs, LYTA honed her strengths and style through a disciplined approach to her craft by regularly devoting 20 minutes a day to write.
“I think what I emulate the best in my writing is my emotion. I think I’ve come to a point in my life where I have a really good grasp and understanding of how I’m feeling and why I’m feeling it,” says LYTA. In her recent output, she says she’s discovered the art of less is more.
“What I’ve been learning for myself is you don’t have to say so much for it to mean so much. You can say the littlest thing, you know? Just like – that one liner,” she says, referencing a lyric from “Are We Okay.”
“The sugar on your tongue makes you taste like Orange Sprite / The sugar on your tongue makes your words taste like we’ll be just fine.”
“It’s not actually called Orange Sprite, but it was just this beverage that my mom used to give me when I was a kid.” She says the drink, a citrusy kumquat and club soda mixture, is a remedy for stomach aches in Asian cultures. In the song, her love interest’s words represent the drink, curing any uncertainties surrounding their relationship status.
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LYTA says her long term goal is to diversify her career with songwriting, music production, and artist management and to broaden representation of women and Asian culture in the music industry. As far as new music goes, she plans to shift her focus toward singles, rather than large projects like this year’s Id EP, and release them at her own pace.
“It’s just going with the flow, you know. I’m not in a rush to pull out all the stops like I did with the EP,” says LYTA. “Music’s supposed to be fun. It’s just supposed to be a journey.”
You can follow LYTA on Instagram and Twitter @callmelyta and stream "Are We Okay" below.