Featured Artist

Layla Kardan

Follow the Artist

How did you get into music?

I have always been very musical and poetic, and I grew up on stage as a classical ballerina, but I was never really encouraged to be a musician or a singer. I got to a very low point in my life where I wasn’t living my truth or being my most authentic self, so I made a decision almost overnight to drop everything and pursue the things I was passionate about. Top of the list was music. From one day to the next people would ask me what I did and I would say I was a singer and before I knew it I formed a band and started to perform live with no training or previous band experience. I just had my blinkers on and went for it.

How would you describe the music that you make?

Dream Pop. Dreamy pop music with electronic synths and beats, jazzy melodic lines and lyrics with substance.

Who are the artists, or people, who inspire you?

The artists that most inspire me are Sade, Prince and Nina Simone for their sheer talent and individualism as well as how timeless they are as artists. Women like Maya Angelou, Frida Kahlo and Madonna inspire much of my messaging and grit, and I’m also inspired by people around me who I admire and look up to. The more current artists I’m loving are Cleo Sol, Jill Scott and Sault.

What are your latest musical accomplishments?

I recently released my EP Abscission which was well received locally and by international publications. Not much has been going on lately, but I am proud to have won Emirates Woman Artist of the Year and Esquire Middle East Music Artist of the Year.

What is your creative process like? Has it changed since the pandemic?

I am generally quite busy with lots of things happening, so I really need to carve out the time to focus on my craft and my creativity. I tend to listen to beats or play with my band and just improvise melodies and lyrics and then edit them into a song with structure. I feel I’m freer when I freestyle and flow and more of an authentic sound is produced. Since the pandemic, I have done less, traveled less, seen less and so have been less inspired so yeah, I guess you could say I haven’t been as active, but I am working on my next album now with 6-time Grammy award-nominated producer, Benny Cassette. Exciting times!

Where have you performed? What was your favourite venue to perform at?

I have performed in so many great venues globally and regionally – all experiences I am equally grateful for, but I do prefer the smaller more intimate venues where the audience is engaged and you’re so close you can feel their energy and they can feel yours – it’s powerful and magical the connection you get. I love performing at Quicy Jones’ bar, Q’s in Palazzo Versace Hotel, Dubai for that very reason. Also the sound is amazing.

What are your latest releases? What is the story behind them?

I have just released an EP called Abscission – a four-track EP which is a project about releasing yourself from people / things that no longer serve you or elevate you to a higher state of being. I had to cut off a lot of negative attachments to release myself from painful cycles that were repeating in my life and this EP shares some of those stories.

Are you working with any other artists right now?

Yeah, as mentioned I am working with Benny Cassette from LA (ex Good Music producer) who is really hot right now. He’s working with a lot of big names from Burna Boy to Dua Lipa so I am honored to have this opportunity. There are also some dream collaborations I have in mind so hoping that will come to life.

What is your involvement in the Regional Artist Spotlight mean to you?

It means a lot. It’s so important to have recognition by such entities and publications as an independent artist in a very tough market. I am always grateful for any exposure I get and for the chance to connect with a new audience. The more support we get from the local community, the more the local interest / audience base grows, and in turn the bigger the industry gets and we have more chance to rise as a collective. THANK YOU to all involved in this great initiative.

What is your top 5 afterparty playlist?

Top Down, Channel Tres Closer, Jaden Thompson remix 10%, Kaytranada Maria Tambien, Khurangbin Why Why Why Why, Sault"