LAYAs boundless creativity is born from an innate desire to push herself. The Staten
Island-born artist has worked as a singer, songwriter, producer, creative director, and visual
artistconstantly shifting forms and acquiring new skills, because, for her, thats what growth
looks like. She clings to a quote from an unknown source for guidance and sustenance: Youll
never have what youve never had until you do what youve never done. That powerful idea has
always applied directly to her music. Her starry-eyed, vibrant yet vulnerable take on R&B and
pop offers up a unique perspective on life and love, powered by a need for newness.
First, though, LAYAs looking back a bit. The upcoming release of her EP, Um, Hello, showcases
her approach, swirling lively production with meditative songwriting. Songs like Bitter are
relatable to anyone who has ever suffered through a failed friendship or relationship, but her
tracks are buoyant and bright. Driven by elastic bass and sensitive vocals, the songs feel
nostalgic and futuristic at once. I love that I can bring back some classic energies that have
been absent for a while, she says. I definitely want to bring fun back into music.
Thats abundantly clear in her first single of 2022, Brag. LAYAs slinky 90s-indebted vocals
echo through a minimal but booming soundscape as she issues a status check: Seems so sad,
think of friends I had / Won't rub it in, baby, cause I got class / Don't wanna brag when I get the
big bag. Then theres the songs esteemed guest, Fivio Foreigna Brooklyn drill star thriving in
an entirely new context. And lets not even get into the visual LAYA dreamed up (and created)
for the song, which has her and Fivio doing their thing from within yearbook and prom photos.
LAYAs boundary-pushing approach began in her childhood. Her mothers side of the family is
full of visual artists who have made careers of painting and sculptingher great-grandfather
made sculptures out of duct tape that found their way into art textbooks. Her fathers side of the
family is trained in musical theater and took pride in reenacting Broadway plays. They were all
poor Puerto Ricans, just creating art, LAYA says. Its something Ive always been around.
The abundance of creative energy surrounding LAYA led to her wanting to perform as early and
often as possible. Ive been singing my whole life, she says. When anyone asked me, 'What
are you going to be when you grow up? I said I was going to be a singer. LAYAs parents told
her shed habitually run onto anything that looked remotely like a stage and perform for anyone
who was around. As she got older, she enrolled in theater camps and drama classes. While a
genuine passion for music has been a part of her life from early on, LAYA didnt start recording
herself as an artist until she was in high school. It was around this time that she also became a
graduate from the school of YouTube, where she pored over editing tutorials and learned how
to use programs and techniques that she would go on to apply toward her future releases.
Over time LAYA became a self-described daughter of the iconic artists Missy Elliot, Beyonc,
and Brandy. In February, she offered homage to that trio with Crazy Down, which interpolates
Brandys I Wanna Be Down over a sample of Elliotts Beyonc-assisted Crazy Feelings. The
resulting fusion plays with nostalgia but also creates something totally fresha testament to her
abilities to pay tribute to the sounds that inspire her while moving into new worlds altogether.
LAYAs 2020 hit Sailor Moon offers a similarly familiar taste of '90s R&B, while still looking
toward the future. Over light, airy productioncourtesy of her longtime collaborators ORA (One
Record Away)she sings softly about a love interest, laying her feelings bare. In LAYAs eyes,
her penchant for harking back to that era represents not just her literal sound, but her mindset,
and a connection to something deeper. My music is something youve heard in a past life, she
says. Its new to you, but somehow its familiar. Its an old, new-wave bounce.
In addition to writing Sailor Moon, LAYA also shot, directed, and edited the visuals for the
song, on top of doing her own hair, makeup, and wardrobeskill sets that are core to her work
and approach as a whole. Ive become the DIY queen, she says with a laugh. Anything that
LAYA the singer needs, LAYA the handylady comes in and provides.
That inclination to constantly create has given LAYA a leg up, in terms of her past, present, and
future ambitions. A joint effort with ORA, Um, Hello, is a beefed up reissue of the 2019 project
that serves as a time capsule from that era in her development, while also allowing the rest of
us to catch up. Songs from the EP, like the flirtatious On Sight, reinforce LAYAs playful nature,
while homing in on her ability to craft tongue-in-cheek lyrics that rely on clever metaphors, as
well as masterfully layered melodies that hover in the air long after the song has ended.
Her upcoming single, a charismatic cover of Missy Elliotts Sock It 2 Me, will be available
exclusively through Amazon Music Originals. LAYAs version, which features her singing and
rapping, is understated, yet rivetingan entirely new experience that represents her deep
commitment to imaginative storytelling, and to placing herself in the tradition of culture-shifting
Building on these singles new and old, LAYA isnt afraid to verbalize her desires within the music
industry: She wants to win all the awards, perform in every corner of the globe, and succeed in
any way humanly possible. Everything that Ive gotten to this point, Ive worked for and made
happen, she says. It didnt exist yesterday, but it exists today. And clearly, tomorrow.
While shes just setting out on her journey, LAYAs aspirations have been firm in her mind since
she was a young girl. My goal is to make an impactto be that drop in the water, and have that
ripple effect on the world, she says. Those are the kinds of shifts I intend to create in music.