INTERVIEW: Layla Kardan


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Layla Kardan


WITH her album, Saved, out on 30th November...

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I have been speaking with Layla Kardan about it and what stories/ideas influenced the songs. Kardan explains the influence of Middle Eastern music and the sounds she grew up around; if she has a favourite memory from her time in music and what comes next.

I ask if there are albums that mean a lot to her and which rising artists we need to look out for; if she gets chance to detach from music and which artists she’d support on tour given the chance.


Hi, Layla. How are you? How has your week been?

Hi! Thanks for this opportunity. This week, I have been working on my private listening launch – getting all the elements together for the presentation to press and key industry people. I shot a video clip for my first song from the album, Goddess, which was a long but beautiful day of high-fashion and sensual dance. I can’t wait for the unveiling of the video later this month. I went to Muscat, Oman for a private performance. I had a dress fitting at Tom Ford. Tonight, I will perform at the Chopard gala dinner at the Armani Hotel.

For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?

I am a global citizen, an eternal wanderer; feminine divine seeking adventure and meaning. I am originally from Iran but have been raised in the West so am very open to the world and love connecting with people from different cultures/religions/beliefs. I am hungry for life and thirsty for experience. I tell stories through my music. I am a bohemian at heart but love high-fashion.  My music is raw, honest; sensual and spiritual with fat bass and edgy production. I’m like a dark fairy who wants to only communicate through music.

Saved is your new album (out on 30th November). Are there particular themes that inspired the songs?

Love. Heartbreak. The oppression of Middle Eastern women and the expectation to conform and breaking away from that. An up-yours to all the people who expect that from me. And an up-yours to bigots in my community who think music and singing is reserved for ‘bad women’.

The album is about being ‘saved’; being reborn into a winged thing, shedding myself of my ego so that I can raise my vibration. Shedding my mask and coming into my skin to be true to myself.

Do you have a favourite track from the record?

All the Beauty. The song came from a place of darkness. I did some inward journeying and some growth to be able to then shift my perception of the world; seeing it for ‘all its beauty’ rather than the darkness and the cold.

You were born in Belgium but moved to the United Arab Emirates – and you are an Australian national. With Iranian roots too; how do all these nationalities and nations bleed into your work?!

I am absolutely inspired by the different countries I have lived in and the cultures I have immersed myself in. My lyrics are in English, my melodies Pop and jazzy; my production has subtle Middle Eastern undertones with use of warped Setar and daf sounds (traditional Persian Instruments); the rhythms of certain songs are typical of the sounds of the Gulf region – U.A.E. is in the Gulf.

How did music come into your life? What sort of sounds did you grow up around?

I didn't grow up in a musical family but I'm told that I was drawn to music from the age of one. I feel music in my veins and in my heart. Persian music has a lot of tribal sounding 6/8 beats and interesting high-pitched instruments playing melodies. I feel those sounds influenced my music style. I also started dancing classical ballet at the age of four so I feel dancing thrree times a week helped me develop an ear for music.

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What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?

I want my music to be heard in many different countries in the world. To reach the ears and hearts of people who are interested in a story different to theirs, but can relate to it all the same.

Do you already have plans for 2019?

I have some international gigs booked already. I will spend the summer between London and Los Angeles to work on my next project.

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Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?

My first performance of original music where Sotheby’s presented me as a local artist with a performance in their gallery alongside a Cecil Beaton exhibition. And winning Emirates Woman Woman Artist of the Year in 2017

Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?

Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1 by Jill Scott

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill by Lauryn Hill

Love Deluxe by Sade

These three women and artists I hold in such high regard for their individuality, true artistry; incredible voices and their ability to convey so much emotion in their music. I grew up with all three albums on-repeat and they remain my go to albums today. It’s the lyrics, the music; the power and the grace of each of these women and their perfect deliveries on their respective albums that made me want to write songs.

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If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?

I'd definitely want to support Sade and I would want fifty dancers on stage with me - all women in a spectacular production celebrating women.

I am not a diva (yet) I just need a quiet space with candles, a gong and some paolo santo and an Epsom salt bath for after the show. I'll add some oxygen and Liquid Gold drink just to be fancy. I'd want my producer and dear friend Miloux with me too.

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What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

I am a new artist coming through! But, my advice is stay true to your art and sound and don’t feel the pressure to create music for the charts. You don’t need a label to cut through. The digital world allows you so much reach. Stay disciplined and determined. Don’t let your flame die - you only live one life.

Do you have tour dates coming up? Where can we catch you play?

At the moment, I am performing a lot in the Middle East and planning my dates in Europe and the U.S.A. soon.


 IN THIS PHOTO: Seinabo Sey

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Seinabo Sey; SEVDALIZA; Cleo Sol; Masego; KALEO.



Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?

Not at the moment – I am super-busy. But, whenever I get a chance I escape to nature. I love swimming in the ocean or going to the desert or climbing a mountain. I also love to travel to new and different places.

Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).

I Owe You Nothing by Seinabo Sey


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