It's been a long time that I've wanted to interview and feature singer/songwriter LAYLA KARDAN on our site but this beautiful soul decided to wait on the debut of her first EP with original music before talking about her plans to represent ethnic melodies and rhythmic beats on the global stage.
A true global citizen, the Australian national is currently living and producing in the United Arab Emirates. Born in Belgium with Iranian roots the singer started performing from a young age. She has performed at Emirates Jazz Festival, Art Dubai, The Global Education Forum, the Emirates Literature Festival and is also a regular at venues such as Coya, OKKU, Blue Bar, The Music Room and The Capital Club.
Check out her recently launched video " As One".
Your greatest inspirations or influences?
I am heavily inspired by Jazz and Neo-Soul so it's no surprise that my influences are
Nina Simone, Sade, Erykah Badu and Jill Scott.
Tell us about your original music and your songwriting process?
I write about personal encounters - love and life inspired - and about dreamed up stories and concepts inspired by other art forms, it could be a piece of art, a designer or artist, a film or a score. I don't have a strict schedule where I write every day, but when I am inspired I'll sit and nut out the idea till I have a first draft and then I revisit it over the following week to refine the idea lyrically and melodically.
I like to celebrate my Iranian heritage through my visuals and my sound so there are very subtle undertones of middle eastern/oriental beats or melodic lines with a edgy and fresh production.
My two first singles are called 'As One' and ' Keep Running' so there is a message of unity and persistence there, but my album which I am working on now and will be released later on this year is about getting out of the box, defying social conventions, being a strong woman, falling head over heels so hard in love and then coming out of that to start anew.
I cover a lot haha.
Most interesting performance to date?
I really enjoyed performing at the Dubai Jazz Festival in February this year as it was my first time performing my originals to a captive and engaged audience with a line up of unconventional musicians - i had keyboard, Oud, a beatboxer providing the beats with his mouth, and a cellist. Though I felt very bare and exposed as it wasn't a full band and it was my first time performing the songs live, it was definitely my favourite performance to date.
What would be a dream tour for you?
To tour Europe and America with my upcoming album, have a huge stage production fusing conventional western and ancient Middle Eastern instruments with western choreographed dances with oriental influence, bare as a stage by fabric heavy and colourful with a beautiful light production to move with the beats of the music and graphics to suit.
I'd love to have a line up of middle eastern electronic projects to support.
To top it off i'd love to have my sisters and my best friends travel with me.
How would you describe your music?
I don't like being put into a box, but I'd say my music is dream/sultry electronic pop with a soulful lyric and melody.
Challenges of the industry?
It's majorly competitive, it's hard to make money from record sales so you need to stay fresh and current so you can speak to the audience that's digital and social media active.
Dubai we have the challenge of being off the radar in terms of a city with a thriving music scene so it's harder to get picked up, but on the upside we live in such a digital world that if you get your music on the right platforms you can have your music heard in all corners of the globe.
Anything else you would like to share?
It's been hard to defy social conventions and expectations of a woman in the Middle East to follow my dreams of becoming a singer/songwriter without the support necessary to have made this a faster and less taxing process, but the satisfaction and fulfilment I have in pursuing my truth and my passion, despite all the hardships, has been my greatest triumph yet, regardless of how the music is received, I am at my happiest to date.