Years ago, I loved listening to the song Faces Going Places by London singer songwriter Jose Vanders. Jose is now known as LAYLA, and recently wrote and recorded her EP “Yellow Circles”. You can have a listen to her song Oh My Love here and head to her Website or Facebook for more.
Tell us about how you first got into music and your journey so far.
Music has always been a huge part of my life; my parents love listening to music and encouraged me to start taking classical piano and violin lessons from a very young age. Later as a teenager, when I saw artists like Elton John, Joni Mitchell, Norah Jones and Vanessa Carlton using the piano as the foundation for their songs, I decided to join in. I performed my own songs at an open mic night in a local pub, and have been writing songs ever since. For me, they are so cathartic, and read like a diary of my life set to music. I have hundreds of songs that just catalogue my life so far, it’s so cool.
Where do you like to go for inspiration?
Literature has always been a huge inspiration for me. My forthcoming EP (out in April) is loosely influenced by Allen Ginsberg’s poems. My own anxieties are also a big one; I use music to explore my own self-doubt, I guess writing is some sort of a quest for enlightenment. That said, one of the songs was about a coffee mug. inspiration comes from everywhere…‘Yellow Circles’ is about my dog laying in a patch of sunlight.
Your style is described as alternative. What drew you to this genre?
I guess because I can’t really categorise it into anything else. I’m not pop, and I feel like I am so much more than a ‘singer/songwriter’. I am a musician at my core, and actually I don’t see myself as a singer, or indeed a conscious songwriter. I am someone that writes songs, and sings them. That sounds weird, but I don’t want to define myself by a genre. I think some music is just music.
What is your favourite song you have ever written and why?
Probably ‘New Year’. I love it because it rings so true for me. It’s about that seed of self-doubt that crops up every so often, particularly when you stop and analyse what you’re doing with your life. If ever I sit back and examine my situation, my rational brain shouts ‘what on earth are you doing! You mad woman.’ But ‘New Year’ is about defying that, and says that you can’t just cover over these holes of doubt, you can’t burrow down and hide. You have to face them, face your anxieties, get rid of them and be whoever you want to be.
It must be an emotional experience sharing your personal songs with an audience. Tell us about how this feels.
Painful, horrible and the most wonderfully exhilarating feeling in the world; it’s inexplicable. It’s like baring your soul to someone. My Dad was listening to ‘The Only One’ the other day, and said, ‘God, I hope you never actually felt like that.’ You write into songs what you can’t say out loud.
How did it feel having one of your songs featured on Made in Chelsea?
Brilliant! I love that show, it’s my guilty pleasure, so to hear one of my songs on it was just hilarious.
Tell us about your new EP, “Yellow Circles”.
The Yellow Circles EP was written and recorded in a glorified shed at the bottom of my garden called The Burrow, and featured a bunch of super talented friends playing on it. I also shot the videos in my living room. I love creating things from my house…
What advice would you give to aspiring singer/songwriters?
Write your own songs. All the time. For me, writing a bad song is better than singing someone else’s song brilliantly, because that is what makes you get better at your craft. Work hard. Practice. Slowly invest in a simple recording set up and learn how to record your own demos. Work with other musicians. Write songs with other people. And know that you have to be in it for the right reasons. If you want money and fame then you’re going to be pretty miserable for a few years whilst you get good.