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Featuring sweeping vocals and booming chords, London based singer/songwriter LAYLA had our earbuds wanting more, after the release of her last EP, Black Mud, in April.
Thankfully she hasn’t disappointed and will be dropping her new EP ‘Weightless’ on November 10th. GroundSounds recently caught up with the songstress to chat about her latest project, inspirations and captivating crescendos, check out our exclusive interview with LAYLA below.
For those just discovering LAYLA, can you tell us about your background and how you got started with music?
I come from a family who adore music – from Beethoven to Joni Mitchell to West End musicals. I started learning classical piano from a very young age, and spent my childhood composing little tunes, writing poetry and creating music. It was always an enjoyable hobby, but I started to take myself seriously at about seventeen, when I played my first open mic night. Since that first adrenaline rush of singing my songs in front of an audience, I have made it my goal to make music for the rest of my life. LAYLA was born about two years ago…
We at GroundSounds have had “For You” on repeat, can you tell us about the creative and writing process for this track?
I’m so pleased you’re enjoying that track! It nearly didn’t make it onto the EP. To be honest, it popped out of absolutely nowhere. I write all my songs at the piano, each song in about half an hour. I can never spend too long on an idea, otherwise I fear that it doesn’t encapsulate that breathless urgency you feel when you get a creative spark. I then worked on the piano/vocal demo with my producer and a band, recorded half of it in Devon and half of it in my garden, and somehow it turned from a tiny seed of an idea into a song. I still don’t really understand how that happens; I listen back to it now and think ‘how on earth did I write that?’ It genuinely is magic.
The most rewarding part of recording for me – every single time, is the strings. I ADORE them. It is so unbelievably rewarding dreaming up all these string parts in your head, writing them down and then having some incredible musicians turn up and play them beautifully. Every time I am on the verge of tears, because it’s something that was intangible, something that was a dream, a little idea in your head, that becomes real. It’s phenomenal. The challenging part is always deciding which songs to put on the EP. I wrote about fifteen songs for this one. I will never know if I picked the best four to record… but I’m immensely proud of these four songs so I guess that’ll have to do.
What made you decide to title your upcoming EP Weightless?
To be ‘weightless’ is to be unaffected by gravity. To me, that is to have your head in the clouds, to be free, flying, dreaming, unhinged from reality and the constraints of society and life. It is to be floating. And for me, these songs – particularly ‘Cassiopeia’, really embrace that idea of being ethereal, outside your normal headspace. To see yourself from a different consciousness, almost. To me, that is what love feels like. Being in love is like all your burdens and pressures being alleviated. Nothing matters, actually, except love. And feeling invincible.
What is one thing every visitor should see or do in London?
Go to Oxford Street. (I’m kidding, please don’t). There is so much to see and do… I guess an ideal day would involve swimming at the Olympic Pool, breakfasting at Pavilion Cafe in Victoria Park, walking into town along Regent’s Canal eyeing up all the boats and runners, stopping off at Broadway Market for a bite to eat, going to the Sir John Soanes Museum in Holborn (such an inspiring place!), having dinner at Caravan in King’s Cross and finishing up with cocktails with a side of acrobats at Circus. Sorry that was more than one thing… you can’t pick one thing! It’s the best city in the world!
What music are you currently listening to and inspired by?
Currently I’m enjoying Sylvan Esso’s album and Angus and Julia Stone’s new record. Both are so dreamy and real.
What was the inspiration for your track “Fight The Fire?”
Aha! Well I actually wrote that song to practice writing an empowered female pop song. I give myself briefs sometimes just to practice songwriting (it’s a muscle, you have to train it), and wrote this for a bit of fun. It ended up having the potential to sound quite cool, so we put it onto the EP. It does come from a personal place though. I have been cheated on by every single boyfriend I have ever had since I was 14. And that sucks. Understandably, I didn’t trust men for a very long time. I’m still trying to actually. Writing that song helped a lot. The worst thing you can do to someone you love is betray them. It’s actually horrific. DON’T CHEAT PEOPLE.
Wow… performing is nuts. It’s pure adrenaline. It’s better than skydiving. It’s so humbling, it’s so powerful. There are people listening to music that you have created, and it’s just such a privilege to be performing it. To get lost in it for an hour. I feel invincible and incredibly vulnerable all at once.
What people and books have inspired you most?
There are three people in this world, whom without, I would definitely not be making music now. One is my piano teacher who encouraged me to push myself. Another is an older musician I met at university; he is a magician of life, he has so much fire in him, and told me that I could do anything I wanted. Throughout those three years he teased me out of my books and into another world of creativity. The final person is my producer Ant, who has shown me that the impossible can be done. It’s so easy and tempting to give up every day, but those three people and what they once said to me keep me going. I now realise the importance of giving someone else the faith that they don’t have themselves. Of course your parents can fulfil that role, but it means so much more coming from someone who is unbiased and not obliged to support you.
Books… I love books. My favourites are ‘The Diving Bell and the Butterfly’, ‘White Tiger’, ‘A Fine Balance’, ‘The Secret’, Allen Ginsberg’s poetry and for some reason I bloody love Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’, although I think that was more that I had to learn to love it in order to understand it. Or maybe the other way around… see, it’s that confusing.
After the release of Weightless, what’s next for LAYLA? What can fans expect in the future?
More music. And more music. That’s all I know right now. I just have to make more music.