LAYA first captured our attention with her viral hit “Sailor Moon” and her EP Um, Hello. Her distinct style, captivating vocals, and boundless creativity have set her apart in the ever-expanding realm of emerging R&B artists. Drawing inspiration from the likes of Aaliyah, Brandy, and the iconic Missy Elliott, LAYA carves out a unique and familiar niche within the genre. It’s why we eagerly anticipate each new release from this rising R&B diva. Her latest offering, Bet That, marks her second EP under Warner Records and solidifies her position as an artist to watch. From the silky melodies of “Slide” to the empowering lyrics of “Left, Right, GO!,” LAYA’s music exudes a distinctiveness that demands appreciation. Our conversation with LAYA delves into the inspiration behind Bet That, her artistic evolution, forthcoming projects, and more, offering a glimpse into the passion and dedication she brings to her craft.
1. Firstly, congratulations on the album hitting #2 on the ITunes R&B Charts! What was
your thought process behind creating the album?
Thank you so much! I was going through a point in my life where I had a lot of things that I wanted to get off my chest when I was writing and recording these records. They each were a different mood but they had a cohesive overall theme. That theme was “Don’t try me”, “Fuck around and find out” and “Let me shut you up real quick”. I wanted to let out my aggression, get my point across, slap you up (figuratively) and make it beautiful.
2. Let’s get into your visuals, from glam, to direction and editing, what is the process like
creating your own music videos by yourself?
The music speaks to me and somehow I can just see what needs to be done. I usually see things so big and elaborate that I often have to dial it back and asses it in a way that I can realistically pull it off with the tools that I have. I always find a way. I have a very active imagination and I take the necessary steps to get the end product to be as close to the idea I saw in my head as possible. My goal is not only to entertain but to transport the audience to another place. There is so much freedom when it comes to music videos. There are no rules. I often say that I like to be more in alignment with people’s imagination rather than their reality. Creating visual content allows me to do that. It is my canvas you could say, and every detail is intentional.
3. What do you want fans to get from “Bet That”?
I want my fans to feel empowered. I want them to get in touch with themselves and feel strong and confident in their own skin. I also want them to realize that they have the power to alter their reality. “Left, Right, GO!” is a great example of this. The general message of the song is to get back up after you’ve been knocked down and to keep moving forward. No matter what the world throws at you, you and only you have the power to take your lemons and make lemonade with them. I also want them to feel empowered enough to stop accepting negativity and toxicity into their lives. I want them to realize that they are in control of their destiny.
4. How do you feel about the state of R&B right now?
R&B is in great hands now that I’m here. Cuz chiiile it has been BO-RING! I’m the necessary espresso martini that R&B needed to wake back up and join the party. R&B is short for rhythm and blues, and I think for a long time people forgot about the rhythm and were only giving us the blues. Sad, sad, sad music. I’m not here for that. Miss me with the boo-hoo tunes. I’m picking up the tempo and bringing the bops back. R&B is good now.
5. How important is it for you to be vulnerable in your music?
I think it’s very important. For me it’s really just about being honest in my lyrics. People can tell when you’re faking it. They can feel it. When I write music I stick to what I know which is real feelings. Sometimes they’re about a romantic relationship, sometimes a friendship, work colleagues, someone cutting me off in traffic, or anything else. I’ve even written music about getting into a physical fight with someone. Nothing is really off the table. Mainstream music’s subject matter tends to be a carousel of the same topics over and over; sex, money, drugs, confrontation, and more sex. I’m a human adult living in the 21st century and although I do have sex and get money, those aren’t the only experiences that I have in my life. I think it’s very important to allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to express the vast amount of other emotions that we all feel at one point or another. The people relate to it and form a much deeper connection to your music that way.
6. What was the experience like touring with artists such as Teyanna Taylor? Could we
expect a LAYA tour soon?
Touring with Teyanna was incredible! I felt like a little kid at Disneyland. Watching the whole production from bothsides of the stage was a milestone experience for me. I had never even been to a concert before I went on that tour. There are so many things and people that go into pulling off a great show. From the massive two story stage set that had to be set up and torn down every night to the dancers, visuals, and story line (and I LOVES me a good story line) it was one of the most inspiring moments I’ve had as an artist. Not to mention she is an absolute powerhouse on stage! I can go on and on about it to be honest, but in short I learned a lot and it opened up my eyes to all the possibilities of what can be done in a show. I’ve been building my headlining tour in my head and sketch pads ever since, however, although I know my fans are ready for me to headline my own tour I still want to hit the road with (an)other artist(s). I still feel like not enough people know who I am yet and I want to reach new audiences.
7. We see you do a lot of interacting with your supporters, how important is it to you to
have a relationship with your fans?
I think it’s very important to have a relationship with your fans. They and I go hand in hand. Making and performing music is a service. It’s a service to the people. Once I’ve created and released music it no longer belongs to me. It belongs to them. They then in turn provide a service to me by providing the support that I need to keep creating music to keep serving them. It’s a beautiful never ending cycle that I think artists and musicians should cherish. That said though, don’t pull up on me asking for a photo while I’m elbow deep in my seafood boil, okay. Respectfully! Lol
8. Fashion is obviously a big part of your brand, how would you describe your style?
I would describe my style as fearless avant-cunt. It’s bold, over the top, whimsical, and chic. I think fashion should be fun and as an entertainer it should be larger than life. I don’t wish to be perceived as a normal person but more as an idea. A living art piece. An icon. For me fashion is simply another outlet for me to express myself and to tell a story and the story is absolutely fabulous!
9. Who is your dream collaboration?
I have several but the biggest one at the moment would be Teezo Touchdown. He’s so unique, talented, and gosh darn cool! He really cares about his music and you can tell. Everything is intentional and organic and most importantly (for me) it FEELS good. I think we would make not just one but many amazing records together. And the visuals would be *chefs kiss*.
10. How would you describe your personal growth from the beginning of your career to now?
I would say I’m a lot less naive. I’ve learned a lot when it comes to the business side of my work and I’ve learned how to separate personal from business. I’m also a lot more aware of who I am, my worth, and what I have to offer. I used to shrink myself and downplay my talents but not anymore. Now I know for a fact that I’m a superhero and I’ve learned how to use my superpowers to create the reality that I want. I’ve definitely shared this growth and self awareness within the lyrics of the new EP (Bet That). It’s like, ok you fooled me once but you won’t even have the opportunity to fool me a second time because I know who I am now.
11. How do you find time to balance music and your personal life?
Easy, I just take my wig off! Lol No, but seriously, I just switch off when I need to. I have a very small, tight knit group of friends and family that know me very well and keep me grounded. I cherish them and keep them safe and out of the spotlight like any smart superhero would. This preserves my personal life and keeps it personal and allows my art to take center stage which is how I like it. It’s very much like how any average person goes to work, does their job professionally and then clocks out and goes home.
12. Outside of music, is there anything you are interested in?
I grew up in theatre and drama and I’ve always had a passion for acting. I’d love to act in movies and on TV. I’m low key obsessed with film and after making so many of my own music videos I’ve developed a love for creating film as well. Perhaps I could direct and star in my own project. Who knows
13. If you could go back to the beginning of your musical journey, what is one thing you
would tell yourself?
I would tell myself to never stop and to never doubt myself. So many times I was knocked down or set back but it was all part of the plan and in the end it only set me up for success. I would also tell myself that I have the best ideas and I would inform myself that no one is gonna get it until I execute it myself and show them. So stop blubbering because no one understands you!
14. What is something that you want people to remember when they think of LAYA?
I want them to remember being blown away. I want them to remember gasping for air when the beat dropped. I want them to remember getting chills and goosebumps all over their body when I hit the high notes. I want them to remember fighting back tears because the music touched them deeply. I want them to remember what quality feels like and I don’t ever want them to forget.
15. We know that it’s currently Bet That Season, so what is next for LAYA?
The world! I’m taking it! I’m on your phone, your television, your radio, and a non stop loop in your head. I’m taking it all by storm and this storm will hit like no other. Her name is LAYA.
Executive Producer: Leo Lysius @ImagesbyLeo
Photographer: Brian Ziff @Brianziff
Stylist: Turner Turner for The Wall Group
Makeup: Leo CHaparro @leo.chaparro
Hair: Preston Wada @prestonwada
Digital Cover Creative Diretor: Robert Douglas @Fame.truelegacy
Interview by: Jada Lang @TheJadaLang
Stream LAYA’s latest EP, BET THAT below: