The alt-pop singer talks new single “Loyalty”, her Persian roots, and what we can expect from her upcoming EP “Abscission”.
Teasing us with another cut from her upcoming EP “Abscission” is singer-songwriter Layla Kardan with “Loyalty”. Leading us into a dark captivating soundscape with explosive choruses and enchanting lyricism, the singer delivers vivid snapshots of her complex love relationships. Produced and co-written by Dua Lipa favourite Juan Ariza, “Loyalty” details the singer’s self-reflection and personal growth, as her vulnerability breaks through the seams of the song before being quickly replaced by an unapologetic poise at the end.
Opening up on the single, the singer revealed, “Taking a stance before entering a new relationship by laying your cards out instead of re-enacting the same toxic patterns, because loyalty doesn’t come easy.”
“’Loyalty’ is the third release from the singer’s EP, following on from recent singles “No Place” and “You”. Pulling on her cross-cultural background as inspiration for her music, the singer is a part of a new scene redefining the Middle East, working with various charities and fashion brands in order to make a change. With her EP release date set for February 26th, we caught up with Layla talking the new project, charity work and what she’s got planned for 2021.
Check out the interview below…
Hi Layla– how have you been during this uncertain time? How has it impacted your music and creativity?
It’s been an emotional journey – lots of moments of emotional pain and then focus on my creative work and just trying to get through it without thinking too much. I used the time to finish some projects I had shelved and work with my community and team of amazing creatives to put together the assets needed to support my new music. I finished my EP, “Abscission”, I made 4 music videos during the height of the pandemic and shot my cover artwork with my favourite photographers in the region. I put my head down and got to work otherwise I would’ve spiralled downwards into a dark place without the opportunity to perform live and all the travel I was doing pre-Covid.
How did growing up in Belgium and your Persian roots influence you sonically? Who were your musical heroes?
I was born in Belgium and left quickly after. When I was two months old, we left and travelled for a couple of years to then settle in Sydney, Australia, which is where I grew up. Being raised in Australia was great as it’s such a tolerant and multicultural society so you get exposed to many different cultures. I had Australian, Croatian, Korean, Indian, Lebanese, Italian, Portuguese, Samoan, Fijian friends, and I loved delving into their culture and learning more about their heritage through the food they would eat and their music. Classical Persian music, whilst I don’t listen to it all the time, really speaks to my heart and makes me feel a nostalgia that no other music does. I would say that Persian music has influenced my melodic lines – I like to play with Oriental semitones in my melodies. Also just hearing all those different types of world music influences your musical palette and somehow etches in your mind.
How would you describe your genre?
It’s alternative pop, influenced by soul, downtempo electronic and jazz. It’s hard to place it in one genre, but I’d say it depends on who’s listening to it. My lyrics are deep, and my melodies can be obscure and dark. I love minor keys and moody production. Some would say it’s R&B-influenced, but I think it’s more soulful-electronic pop.
Congratulations on your new track “Loyalty” – what was it inspired by?
Thank you so much. “Loyalty” is basically about being cautious with who you give your trust to. It’s about living in a society where there’s a lot of privilege, where people demand respect without giving it. I feel you should command respect through your actions and loyalty is built over time.
And the music video is quite dark and sinister, what did you want to evoke with it?
It was a dark time, there was darkness all around us. We were inspired by the moment and the sonics of the song are dark too. we shot the video before the BLM protests in the USA started, while editing the footage with the director we discussed what we should do about some of the scenes, but we felt it was important to leave the scene between the Sudanese and the white actors. Anti-blackness has long been a problem in our region, but it is rarely discussed.
Your music examines self-reflection, toxicity, and growth – how does it feel to be opening up about such personal issues in your music?
It’s very exposing and sometimes I wonder if I am giving too much away, but life is a journey of self-discovery and growth and I see the songs as kind of a memoir of my life and a healing process. I am releasing a lot of “stuff” and it feels good to make something beautiful out of a sometimes ugly situation and also to share emotion through music.
How does it feel releasing new music when most of the world is in lockdown/everything feels so uncertain – what do you hope your music will bring?
It’s so tough, and many times I wonder if it’s the right move, but also, I feel stifled if I am not creating. I am not a signed artist and I fund everything myself, so I am working at my own pace with what makes me feel good. Of course, the business of music is very tough right now for artists, but I am happy doing what I love and am passionate about. And it makes me feel good when people can connect to my music and relate.
And “Loyalty” is taken from your upcoming EP ‘Abscission’ – why that name in particular? What ties it together as a body of work?
“Abscission” is the natural detachment of parts of a plant, typically dead leaves and ripe fruit. It’s the process of the dead organisms shedding from the core plant organism as a form of protection from the plant. As does a lizard shed its tail when a predator tries to capture it. This body of work represents me ridding myself of the things/people who no longer served my highest good, in the same way, I felt I was under threat and being diminished by people who didn’t want the best for me, so I released myself from their hold on me and other vices that weren’t good for me.
What’s next for you? What are you looking forward to in 2021?
I plan to work on a new body of work – an album. I have already started conceptualizing and writing. I am in the process of getting all the elements together. I don’t know what this year has in store, the uncertainty makes it hard to plan anything, but I always try to keep things moving and have daily practices that keep me positive.