Indie-pop artist Layke talks about being "a punk rock child at heart" and wanting to put good art in the world
Layke's dream like sequences make her tracks lean more towards begin dream-pop although she does not like to categorize in genres.
New indie-dream-pop artist Layke's upcoming eponymous debut album illustrates her uncompromising originality, with versatility and empowerment oozing out of every track. Including feel-good summertime anthems like 'Friends for the Summer,' to more personal tracks like her lead-off single 'Beautiful War' - one can feel the raw and exposed authenticity of Layke. From producer Adrian Gurvitz who is behind platinum artist Andra Day, and a live string orchestra recorded in London by Rosie Danvers (Adele, Jay-Z, Kanye West), Layke has released the music video of her upcoming debut single, 'Beautiful War'.
Now she's at a point in life where she's met the people who truly allow her to be who she is musically and help her to reach her true potential. Layke has been performing since she was a child, and the creative arts were a way for her to channel her sensitivity and energy into something constructive. In high school, Layke began singing backup in a punk-rock band, which evolved into writing songs. She had always been a poet in her own mind, keeping diaries since she was a child, but putting those words into music was a new concept. After graduating, she moved to Los Angeles to create her own art, her own world, not act out someone else's.
Listen to her debut single 'Beautiful War' below:
The move to Los Angeles was anything but seamless. Through the difficulties, Layke seized her opportunity to figure out who she was as an artist. She appreciated her time in art school, but nothing compares to her time in the studio with renowned producer Adrian Gurvitz after he took her under his wing. Adrian and Layke knew the direction would be experimental, and therefore would require new equipment including vintage synths, drum machines, and mellotrons. While he was producing the record with Layke, Adrian was enjoying the success of Andra Day's "Rise Up," which he produced.
His success with Andra pushed him outside of his comfort zone and he created something ethereal, moody, and eclectic. Adrian guided Layke artistically into an entirely different place. This record is far more than a compilation of songs. The intention is to create art that will stand the test of time, something years from now will still be remembered for its contribution to pop. Layke wants people to feel inspired by her art to create their own safe space in the world. She hopes people hear this album and feel that they can be whoever they want to be, unapologetically and unabashedly.
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In an exclusive interview with Meaww, Layke opened up about her not involving with one particular genre and how she is making it to the spotlight as an independent musician.
What do you find so appealing about dream pop, and what makes it different for you from the other sub-genres like Electro-industrial, Lo-fi, and Punk Pop?
I’m not big on genres, to be honest, because I think they limit us. Especially with the way the music has evolved. Everything is flowing into one another and I don’t really think one thing is any one thing at this point. However, what I do like about dream pop is that it’s extremely ethereal. It can be crunchy and rough, but it can also be dreamy and it allows for intense and beautiful melodic moments.
Were you always into dream pop? Are there any other genres that you would like to explore? If yes, which ones?
I was a punk rock child at heart, which is where I found my rebellious soul and have always felt the most comfortable. I have definitely written and performed a lot of rock music in the past and that comes out in some of the guitars and live sweeteners that we did put on the album. When my producer Adrian Gurvitz and I sat down, we sat down with an open canvas. We weren’t set for a specific genre or to target anything specifically. We just wanted to create good music, good art, something that would be timeless and make people feel something. We ended up gravitating into the dreamy ethereal world of dream pop. I feel like it’s a place that I always should’ve been and we really found my true self here.
Please tell us about your journey as a musician so far. What served as your inspiration? Do you have musicians in your family?
I don’t have any other musicians in my family, but I have been performing since I was very little. Before I was even three years old I was on stage in dance etc. in various capacities. I was always kind of an odd kid and a deep thinker. My mother said things that affected me didn’t affect other children. I felt and thought on a very deep level. When I would get on the stage, that was a place for me to channel that energy and that’s something I just continued to do. Music for me is something that is a release and it’s also therapy. It heals trauma from the past and lifts you up to be the best person you can be. Whether you’re performing it or listening to it, I have personally been inspired by life. I’ve always had an insane amount of energy and I feed off of the experiences I’ve lived whether they’re good or bad, I channel them into my art and keep going.
You have worked with the likes of Adrian Gurvitz. How was the experience?
Working with someone like Adrian is a surreal experience, to say the least. His artistry and musicianship are second to none and as a producer, he’s just on another wavelength, like next level. He really figures out who you are as a person and plays to that truth. He expects nothing but the best and he will make sure to get nothing but that from you. He really pushed me to be the best singer, the best artist, the best writer, the best person that I could be. We are still amazing friends to this day, I consider him a mentor and I just feel very lucky to have met someone like Adrian who is someone who saw potential in me and was willing to take the opportunity and time to allow me to figure it out and pull it out of me. I’m forever grateful. And did I mention he’s like the best guitarist I’ve ever seen?
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While producing your music do you prefer streaming services or CDs? Also, if you prefer streaming services which one do you think is the most suitable for an indie musician?
As a kid, CDs were going out and MP3s and streaming were coming in so I think it’s just a matter of evolving. You have to evolve with the times and everything is digital obviously, streaming services are the wave of now and the future. I think there’s no reason to have CDs because they are just wasteful and everything should be digital anyway, so yeah I’m all for streaming services. Plus for an independent musician, we now have a platform to get our stuff out there, whereas before it was basically impossible and that’s amazing. That levels the playing field in a lot of ways and allows for talent that otherwise would not be found to get exposure.
Now that Spotify is publishing the works of indie musicians, will you put up your music there?
Of course! My music is available now on every streaming service available worldwide. I’m a huge fan of Spotify and all the other streaming services. As I said before, I think it levels the playing field and allows other musicians that would not normally have a platform to have one. There’s room for all of us out there, it’s about getting good art into the world.
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Just out of curiosity, what's the best part of being a performing artist according to you? What do you enjoy the most?
The best part of being a performing artist is performing. There’s nothing like the feeling of being on stage and that moment where you get to give energy to a crowd. You get to feel the energy coming back to you and you get to help someone have an experience that they normally would not otherwise have. When I was a kid growing up, I felt very isolated. Going to different shows would be a way for me to feel like I had a built-in family of people who understood me and I just want to facilitate that same place for other people. I just want everyone to feel like they have space where they can be themselves and be loved.
As an indie musician, you must have faced a couple of challenges common to this genre. What was your biggest obstacle?
I think the biggest obstacle as an indie musician is being taken seriously as well as treated professionally. Just because you’re not signed to some huge label does not mean you’re not a real musician who does not act with the utmost professionalism. And I feel like there’s a lot of people in the industry that take advantage of independent musicians. They think they are green to the industry so to speak and that’s really not fair. We have been working just as long and just as hard with basically nothing to back us up and we’re still making it work.
Who are your favorite musicians and how have they influenced you?
I think my biggest influence is definitely Freddie Mercury. From his incredible ability to sing, his enigmatic stage performance and also as a queer individual who is someone I relate to. Every performance he gave every piece of himself and all the energy that he had and that’s something that I aspire to do. To really give the utmost of myself emotionally to each and every person that attends any of my shows. Freddie had a way of making everybody feel like they were the only person in the crowd and he was performing for just them and that’s how everybody should feel when they leave a performance.
What's next on your bucket list? Do you ever plan to explore creative fields other than music?
This question is really weird for me because I don’t have a bucket list. If I did, I know that I’ve got a long way to go before I can check music off of it. I really want to come into this industry and put out some great art. Make waves so that I can use this platform to be an advocate for marginalized communities and various social issues that are close to my heart. I feel like if you’re putting out art at this point and you’re not standing for something then what is the point. Basically, it makes one complicit and I won’t do that. I am here to put good art in the world and to try to make whatever little change I can alongside all the others doing the same.