Layla Kardan is a singer-songwriter based in the United Arab Emirates. Originally born in Belgium but with Iranian family roots, Layla uses her music to empower women, whilst also reflecting her cultural upbringing within the exotic pop tunes she creates.
LOCK chatted to Layla Kardan about her latest album Saved and more.
What was the recording process like for your album?
It was beautiful and hard. I flew to Auckland, New Zealand to record in the same studio Lorde recorded her EP – Golden Age Studios. It’s cosy and quaint and inviting so I was comfortable. Josh Fountain, an amazing artist and engineer did the recording and mix and was a dream to work with. Rebecca aka Miloux – my producer – was behind me through the whole process, which was cool too. What was hard on me was banging out three songs per day for four days (Auckland winter). I’m so glad I recorded there though – I love what they are doing there.
On the run up to your album release you’ve released a trio of songs as an EP, what was behind that decision?
Since it was my first debut album, I wanted to handpick three songs that represent the entire project as a teaser before releasing. I don’t feel just one single would’ve done it justice. Plus I had the video with Louboutin that came out simultaneously for Closer.
All three tracks run in a similar vein but showcase a slightly different style in each of them. Are there any surprises to come with the rest of the record, or is the EP representative of the album as a whole?
Yes and no. Same vibe but some songs from the album you’ll hear Middle Eastern rhythms and subtle melodies and there are some songs that are more stripped back and raw. I wanted the project to be under produced so that my true emotions weren’t masked. There are also some beautiful interludes with spoken word – poetry written by a friend and amazing writer Andrea Balt. It puts the entire project into context and sets the tone.
Which song from the album means the most to you, and why?
“All the Beauty” is my favourite. I was in a dark place and when I shifted my perception of the world I started to see the world for all it’s beauty rather than focus on the darkness and the cold. I love the bareness and light melody married with a dark and heavy bass and kick. It’s representative of my feminine yet heavy nature.
You mentioned that your desire to write songs and perform is at odds with Middle Eastern convention. Has this influenced your creative process?
I don’t want to put myself in the box of the female freedom fighter in the Middle East, but the oppression and regressive mentality is stifling here so I guess it comes through in my lyrics and my attitude in some of the songs. I just want young females to feel free to express themselves across different art mediums – it’s important for the progress of our community and to speak a universal language that people across the globe can relate to.
How do the various locations you’ve lived and worked in influence your songwriting?
All the places I have travelled to and lived in, have had an impression on me. It’s through travel and exploring that I do the most growing and reflection, so whilst the influence comes through in my music with the middle eastern undertones and the western melodies and lyrics, it’s the inward journeying that leads to the stories, these experiences influence my songwriting.
What do you hope people will take from your album?
Love, Light, Joy, Pain, Anger. Whatever emotion they feel. I just hope they feel something. I also want them to understand that Middle Eastern women are not submissive and meek.
Do you have any plans for a live show once the album is out?
I have already performed a pre-launch performance which was very well received. I have some great opportunities on the horizon regionally, but I am looking to do more international festivals in 2019.
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