British singer/songwriter LAYLA (This Weeks Spotlight Artist), has been capturing our attention since the beginning of last year and continues that trend with two new releases from her upcoming EP, Black Mud. Last month we brought you LAYLA’s mysterious and sophisticated single “Smokestacks”, which went number one on Hype Machine and today, we’re presenting her dark and brooding title song, “Black Mud”. The third EP from the London singer in a little over a year, LAYLA demonstrates both her impressive vocal range and ability to move confidently within different musical styles.
The official video for the title track “Black Mud”, is a big departure from her previously conservative visual accompaniments and may have viewers feeling a little ‘dirty’ once things start to turn steamy. Similar to her progression musically over the past few records, LAYLA continues to step up her game and broaden her reach.
We asked LAYLA to tell us a little bit about her new EP, upcoming plans and of course, that sexy video:
Your third EP in a little over a year is releasing the end of April. Your first EP as LAYLA, The New Year – was heavy on piano driven blues songs, followed by a more electronic infused indie-pop feel for, Yellow Circles and now the upcoming Black Mud EP, which with both “Smokestacks” and the title track feeling a bit more dark and brooding…
1) Tell us about the progression and the new EP?
I adore making EPs because they facilitate that progression; I use every new EP as an experiment in writing and production. All of them have been a learning curve, and I hope that I’ve gradually improved in my songwriting, singing and arranging. It’s certainly not a conscious progression, I just love the fact that you can try on different musical hats with four or five songs, and challenge yourself, find out what you enjoy… I think I’ve got there with this EP. I love dark and brooding! (Although the other tracks are far more upbeat…!)
2) Is there going to be a debut LAYLA album in the near future? (if so will it include songs from the EPs or all new material?)
I hope so! I’m certainly building up to one, but I want to savour the process. For me, writing and recording a debut album is a big thing, and I want to make sure I get it right. As for including old songs, I can’t help but feel that I want to go away somewhere and write a whole, complete record, full of new ideas. Embrace the new! It’s good for you.
3) Vocally you move between blues, soul, folk and pop – what genre are you most at home in and what are your musical influences?
I’m not sure I could lock myself in one genre, but I think alternative/folk/pop is where I’d be most comfortable! It’s funny, I never thought of myself as a singer when I was younger… never thought I was good enough. So it’s only really now that I’m getting to know my voice, and I want to see what I can do with it! In terms of musical influences, I’m hugely inspired by Feist, Death Cab, Joni Mitchell, Bon Iver, Beethoven, Debussy and James Blake. I could go on but we’d be here a while. I LOVE music.
4) Where does a song like Black Mud come from and whose idea was that steamy video?
Haha! I wrote Black Mud after I got home from my running club one night, and had been checking twitter on my way back. (Can’t believe this EP stemmed from twitter, erggh!) I won’t go into detail, but saw a tweet from a girl about my boyfriend that was pretty inappropriate. Jealousy struck, and I wrote ‘Black Mud’ in about 8 minutes, ‘Smokestacks’ and ‘Immortal’ within the hour, and then the other two EP tracks ‘Red Heart’ and ‘Holes’ the following night. It was so bizarre. Clearly something had struck a nerve and I needed to get all my emotions out!
The general idea for the video was mine, and everyone laughed at me for suggesting an idea where two people have sex and he covers her in black mud, as a physical manifestation of jealousy. Most people thought I was mad, but director Mike Lee Thomas was into it (who wouldn’t want to shoot two models getting it on?) and he took that initial idea and made the video what it is. He’s a genius!
5) Tell us about a LAYLA day in London?
Ahhh! Every day is markedly different, but usually I’ll wake up, go for a run, eat eggs and homemade guacamole whilst I answer emails, (the only structure I have) and then spend the rest of the day trying to write songs! If I get any time off from rehearsing, writing and coming up with weird video ideas, I LOVE going into town and exploring London. I adore Colombia road flower market or Broadway market on the weekend for a bite to eat. I love cycling along Regent’s Canal, running round the new Olympic Park – we went for a swim in the Olympic pool the other day, it was so inspiring! Basically I sit in my pyjamas all day playing the piano, and then go out and feast. And then exercise it off the next morning and start again…
6) What are your plans for the US and will there be stateside releases soon?
I hope so! I’d love more than anything to play some US shows, but alas, no plans at the moment. Next year is the one! Although I am heading out to Las Vegas this Summer to watch my parents renew their vows for their 25th anniversary, in the Little White Chapel with Elvis and a pink Cadillac. My Mum is even wearing her old wedding dress. I’m genuinely surprised that I turned out so normal…
The new EP is a sure bet and it’s worth the effort to take a listen to both Yellow Circles and The New Year. Visit our previous post below to find our more about LAYLA. UK fans can pre-order Black Mud on iTunes – HERE. Stream the entire EP below:
Visit LAYLA: Official
Photos: © LAYLA Facebook