Country Queer

Lifting up LGBTQ+ voices in country and Americana.

Lantern Tour Ad

Q&A With Mya Byrne

By Christopher Treacy

Photo by Tim Ryan Smith

After naming her new single our Song of the Week in last Wednesday’s Roundup, we reached out to Mya Byrne to answer a few questions about the process of writing and recording “Where the Lavender Grows.” Not only is it her first single for the indie label Kill Rock Stars, it also christens their new Americana imprint (Kill Rock Stars Nashville) and kicks off a series of events they’re coordinating to commemorate Pride season this year.

The song celebrates a place of settlement, calm, and understanding that only some of us can achieve in our minds. But what if it was a real, physical place? Being at peace with oneself is a headspace that many are struggling to achieve… oh, the irony. If there was a spot we could go to where we experienced contentment just from being there, we’d all go, right? Maybe the reality is more about finding self-acceptance within ourselves and then everywhere is “Where the Lavender Grows.” Easier said than done for certain, but great songs are sometimes heralded as such because they make difficult-to-imagine scenes more tangible to us. In this case, you can really feel the ease.

Did you write this track for yourself? For others? Both?

I often just take myself out of the equation when I’m writing…I think for this song I got really into the story and the visual aspect. It was only later that I realized I was writing both a note to myself and to future queers to say there’s a safe space for you with us when you’re ready to come out. 

The track has such an encouraging message – did writing it take you out of your comfort zone? 

Actually, when I wrote it I was in such a comfortable place, in my friend Lance Horne’s queer home after a morning conversation with his husband, Kurt Phelan — it honestly just flowed out of me, and was largely uncensored and very lightly edited.


A Honky-Tonk of Our Own

The song seems to reassure listeners that it’s okay to take their time in revealing themselves to the world. Do you think there’s pressure to come out quickly and “get on with the show” nowadays? 

I don’t at all, quite the opposite. I think there is so much pressure from outside forces to conform and to not come out. I think our community is affirming and wanting us to find safe places, and I’m a firm believer that coming out can change the world, but I know that it takes time for so many of us for valid reasons.

How did you come to release this through Kill Rock Stars?

We’ve been talking for a long time about me working with them as an artist, and I was asked by them to create a single for Pride. This was a song I wrote during my prep work on my upcoming LP, and I began playing it a lot this winter, and the KRS crew loved it so we got it together very quickly with my partner, the composer Swan Real, and my dear friend, queer music legend Ed Varga, and Nashville’s Gregory Lattimer, who recorded, arranged and mixed the song after Ed, Swan, and I began tracking here in San Francisco.

Is there anything else you want us to know about the song?

It’s a true expression of my faith in queer humanity and probably one of my favorite compositions and vocal performances. There’s so much love in it… Swan was with me during our vocal sessions and I was holding her hand while tracking. It’s a song for everyone, but it’s also such an expression of our queer love, too. 

Christopher Treacy has been writing about music and the music industry for 20 years. He’s contributed to The Boston Phoenix, The Boston Herald, Nashville Scene, and Berklee College of Music’s quarterly journal, as well as myriad LGBTQ+ outlets including the Edge Media Network, Between the Lines/Pride Source, Bay Windows and In Newsweekly. He lives in Waitsfield, VT.