Laya Talks New Ep Bet That, Directing Her Own Music Videos And Being Strikingly Different
Introducing LAYA, a native of Staten Island who refuses to be confined by music labels or industry norms. In an exclusive interview with Contrast Magazine, LAYA shares her latest EP “BET THAT,” her talent for directing and producing her music videos, and her unwavering commitment to an authentic artistic path. Her creative energy and passion inspire us all to embrace our individuality and break free from conformity. Get ready to be moved by an artist who breaks the mold with every note.
LAYA’s music serves as a profound testament to empowerment, resonating with those who’ve weathered life’s storms and have, at times, felt truly “F’d Up.” With an unapologetic dedication to staying true to herself, she doesn’t just create songs; she crafts narratives infused with the unmistakable essence of her Staten Island roots and the dynamic heartbeat of New York City.
Let’s delve through the transformative journey, the complex mind and passionate soul of a multifaceted artist who fearlessly forges her own destiny. Witness a new era in music, where embracing one’s unique identity is the only path worth taking. To experience the full spectrum of LAYA’s artistry, boldly stream her latest release, “BET THAT,” and immerse yourself in our illuminating interview below.
You kicked off this summer with a new single, “F’d Up.” Tell me about it.
I don’t know a single person that hasn’t used the phrase “You got me F’d Up.” It was one of the easiest songs to write because several people/things had me F’d Up when I was writing it. It effortlessly flew out of me. The beat was so groovy and it told my spirit to go full vocal diva on it. I wanted to not only make it known but to make sure it was felt how bad they had me F’d Up. I knew as soon as I finished the bridge that I wanted it to end with strings. Live strings. Petty strings. The “oh, cry me a river, bitch” strings. I love it.
What was your experience like working on your new EP, BET THAT?
It was therapeutic. I don’t talk a lot on social media or share much of my personal life or opinions. I like to put my voice and any messages I wish to deliver into my work. I think it’s more profound that way. That said, this EP served as a personal outlet for me. I was getting a lot of things off of my chest and flexing my muscles while doing so. I wanted the music to stand out and overall, simply, slap! This project came from a very real place and I wanted it to feel that way. I religiously don’t use auto-tune so I not only flexed with my lyrics and vocal performance but also wanted to flex with the production. ORA (Dante Carter and Chad Paul) is a duo of producers whom I’ve worked with exclusively on this EP as well as my last EP, Um, Hello. Together, we took everything up a notch and created our personal blend of real live instrumentation, cinematic sounds, and super slappy 808s. It’s an audio ride from start to finish.
What message(s) do you want to tell your fans, and the world, with BET THAT?
The message I want to deliver to my fans with BET THAT is to be empowered. I don’t ever want my fans to feel sad or sorry for themselves. Life is too short not to speak your mind or take action to better yourself and your quality of life. I want my fans to feel bossed up when they listen to this EP.
Speaking of fans, does your fandom have a name?
No, not yet. There hasn’t been a name that has struck me as “the one”. Plus, I like things to happen organically so perhaps at some point on this journey my fans and I are on it and it will become clear what their name will be.
We first came across your music when we saw the music video for “Sailor Moon” and your visuals never disappoint. What is the creative process like for your visuals?
I just have fun and do stuff! Lol. No, but really, I film everything in my home studio and edit everything myself so essentially my imagination is the limit. I let the songs tell me what the story is and then I just lay it out and I have fun dressing up, creating my outfits and special effects. It’s really just an extension of my artistry. For me, it doesn’t end with the music. For me, the music is the foundation for all the fun stuff (the visuals). I consider myself as much of a visual artist as a recording artist.
You’ve worked with artists like Baby Tate & Fivio Foreign, covered one of Missy Elliott’s songs, and even toured with Teyana Taylor. Who are some dream collaborators for you and why?
I’ve always had dreams of collaborating with Missy Elliott and still do. She’s a beast when it comes to making the type of R&B records that I like. I can only imagine what we would create together. I would also love to collaborate with Tyler, The Creator. I’ve been in love with his sound since the beginning of his career and I’ve enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as an artist. His originality is something that I’ve always admired, and I love singing his songs. Teezo Touchdown is another artist who I’m a super fan of and would love to join forces with. He’s incredible at world-building and creating a funky universe you can really sink your teeth into which is something I enjoy doing myself, and not to mention he has a beautiful singing voice. I’d also love to collaborate with TiaCorine. She’s my favorite female rapper right now. The tone of her voice is totally unique and her flow is absolutely insane and in addition, it’s refreshing to see a female rapper with a different visual aesthetic from the others. Her style is so cool.
You were born and raised in Staten Island. What impact has Staten Island and New York City had on your artistry? So funny story, Chad Paul (of ORA) is from Virginia, and the first time he came to Staten Island to visit me we took a walk to down the block to the bodega and as we walked he looked around and then looked back at me and said “Now I know where you get your grit from.” I laughed so loud. I know that New York has influenced me but I don’t think I realized in what ways exactly until that moment. Although I sing melodic songs there definitely is a grit to my music and to myself as a person. It wasn’t until I started traveling and going on the road that I noticed how dirty, aggressive, glamorous, and loud NYC actually is. My sound and visual style is a reflection of that.
Outside of music, what keeps you interested and motivated to keep creating?
Life. There are so many things to express, explore, and talk about. I’m a lover of all forms of art. From visual art, film, to performance art, the list goes on. In very much the same way that a stand up comedian gets the best material from real life stories I gain inspiration from everything I experience.
The definition for Contrast is to be “strikingly different.” What makes you strikingly different? I’m a woman who not only sings songs, but writes them, records them myself, I mix my own tracks and produce. I act as my own film production crew by not only starring in my visual works but filming, directing, editing, as well as being my own glam squad tackling hair, makeup, and wardrobe – and some pieces are custom made by myself. I’ve also created an entire LAYAverse of overlapping storylines and Easter eggs and spin off channels. And on top of all of that MY MUSIC SLAPS! My new EP BET THAT is incomparable to anything that’s out today by any artist and you can bet that.