Over a soy latte in midtown Manhattan, Irish singer and producer Lenii shares the story behind “Cereal,” and the making of her eclectic brand of pop. Over the last year, she has worked hard to shape her sound. Now, she's ready to share her sonic self-discovery.
According to Lenii, “Cereal” is, “a standing up for yourself kind of song.” The song begins with the lyric, “These tears that fall in my cereal say I’m not okay, please give me my space.” Lenii was going through a tough breakup, but a guy she was friends with took his support a step too far. “Someone kind of swooped in and thought because I was single that all of a sudden I was up for grabs,” she explains.
“Overall, ["Cereal"] is about the feeling that I think a lot of girls have,” Lenii continues. “You know if someone is hitting on you or something, if you say you have a boyfriend they stop and it’s valid, but if you’re just not interested it’s not as valid as if you’re with someone. It’s like you’re owned by someone. They respect the guy more than you, you know what I mean?”
There’s a sense of frustration and betrayal in “Cereal,” as Lenii was in a space of vulnerability post-breakup. It’s devastating when someone you seek support from has an ulterior motive.
The track also features a quote from “Annie.” “It was kind of based on 'Hard Knock Life' but if 'Annie' was into hip-hop and if Miss Hannigan was a boy she didn’t like,” Lenii laughs.
Lenii confesses that she doesn’t even eat cereal, except for the cover photo, which features green-dyed cereal and milk dripping down Lenii’s face. The food coloring stained her teeth green for hours. “I had to brush my teeth so many times,” she laughs. The shot was snapped by her younger sister Elizabeth Murphy, who is visiting from London.
“Cereal” is the second single from Lenii’s upcoming EP In All Fairness. It was written with Nick Sadler, who also collaborated on Lenii’s previous single, “Regular 10.” “[‘Cereal’] is a nice follow-up to ‘Regular 10’ because the whole EP is kind of about keeping face and how everyone pretends more or less,” says Lenii. “Everyone is putting out this picture of perfection and no one is actually that perfect. In All Fairness… the name of the EP, is an Irish saying. It can mean a ton of different things, but for the EP it’s like saying it rolling your eyes, like ‘ah, in all fairness. Like, come on.' It’s a sort of equivalent to “for god’s sake.”
The EP is all about being up front, and Lenii does exactly that in “Cereal.” Over the chorus she sings, “so you think that you can take anything you want from me, oh love you’ve got another thing coming.” She unapologetically stands up for herself, and lets everyone know that she will not tolerate being objectified in any way, shape, or form.
In All Fairness… marks the beginning of a new sound for Lenii, an edgier and more unexpected form of pop. “It’s very different from ‘Regular 10’ on, all the new singles are very different from before but now that there’s so many of them I actually have this project that’s cohesive,” Lenii explains. She has been looking forward to this moment of reinvention for over a year.
Listeners can expect a third single soon, and after that, the whole EP. “I have so many things and I’m trying to decide what order to put them in,” Lenii explains. “I’m not 100% sure, but [In All Fairness…] will be out by this summer. I’m going to say that on the record so I have to actually do it.”