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One Step at a Time- Local Artist, Leyla Ali

Updated: Jan 21, 2022

Written and Published By X

Believe it or not, I’ve known LAYZ since 2018, and I think it’s safe to say that we’ve both grown so much. We were never crazy consistent with conversation, in fact we kind of just watched each other from a distance. But let me tell you it’s a magical feeling when you watch a friend you knew deep down was going to make it years ago, actually make it in present time. I couldn’t be more proud.

If you don’t already know, LAYZ produces bass music and mostly heavy dubstep. “recently I’ve been wanting to learn how to create other forms of bass music such as hybrid trap (i.e. LOUIEJAYXX, RZRKT) and future bass that involves vocalists! There are a few factors that got me into this particular genre. As a kid, I played a lot of Call of Duty and dubstep was a huge factor in video games (especially in YouTube videos of Call Of Duty montages). While growing up in my household, EDM was always played out. My dad would play Ultra and Tomorrowland livestreams, along with his favorite Tïesto’s Club Life mixes. Being around this type of music is what got me into going to festivals. When I attended my first Lost Lands in 2017 and saw all my favorite dubstep artists perform, that’s when I decided I wanted to start creating my own music. It was something about the atmosphere, the bass, and the lights that just pulled me right in.” I love the inspiration. It’s so refreshing knowing that parents will play EDM for their children rather than a lot of the music you hear on top 10. When we’re young, we’re like sponges. Even if it’s low volume, our brains unintentionally absorb everything we hear. I think those Tiesto mixes inadvertently led to the rise in artistry and now, stardom.

So what does LAYZs creative process look like?

“To start, I always try to think of a “theme” for my song. I always aim to tell a story with my songs! From there, I begin building with an intro first.” It’s so interesting knowing the different processes each artist goes through. For me personally, I love hearing a story in a song. Symbolism just makes it so much more meaningful, and it’s easier to connect with people that way. Continuing, she claimed, “I find drops to be my weakness, so I try to start with the intro and see where it calls me. And of course, I always like to add some thunderstorm elements whether it’s in the intro or in the drops. After my intro, I like to start with my drums and percussions; I try to use different drums with every song. From there, I start my sound design process and try to develop a flow that I can continue to build off of. I normally mixdown everything as I go instead of waiting till the end.”

Have you had any challenges along the way?

“Yes! 100%! This is especially because I am a female. Since I started out as a DJ first (I wasn’t producing yet), people didn’t take me seriously. I was told so many times “she’s only a DJ because her boyfriend is a DJ.” Once I got the hang of DJing, I decided to take it to the next level and learn how to produce. After I released my first single, I, then, had people say ‘her boyfriend made that song.’ I felt like I could never win and make people happy. Still, to this day, I get hate every now and then but that goes for anyone.”

“No matter if you started a business, if you’re a comedian, a lawyer, or an artist, you will get hate. So, might as well do whatever the hell you want! Not everyone you’re going to meet is going to like you. And that’s okay! I turn the hate into fuel for motivation.”

If you haven’t already, make sure you check out my article on what it’s like being a female in the industry. I’m not even an artist and I’ve faced so many challenges as a female, so I can’t imagine what it’s like for LAYZ. Society needs to stop doubting women and just let them grow and build themselves up. When you’re trying to make it in an industry, of course there’s going to be obstacles, but why is it that people automatically think, “nope, she must have a ghost producer and it must be a man.” That’s more than just an obstacle, that’s a fucking societal problem. Her advice to other female artists in the industry: “It’s scary at first. But, as long as you give it your all, it’s worth it in the end. Focus on yourself and your production. There is no secret to achieving your dreams. You just need to put in the hard work, one step at a time.”

What about advice to your past self?

“I would tell my past self to not be so hard on yourself and don’t compare yourself to others. I remember when I was producing for only 3 months, I was getting so frustrated at myself because my songs didn’t sound heavy like Kompany and Wooli. I kept comparing myself to artists that have been in the game for YEARS! Not going to lie, I still struggle with these thoughts every now and then, but what helps me overcome those thoughts is that I see the progress. I’ve listened to UMBRA vs my unreleased songs that I currently have. It shows how much I’ve learned in just 1.5 years. It shows the progression of production knowledge I’ve gained. It feels so good when I write a song and say to myself, ‘Wow! This is the heaviest track I’ve ever made!’ and then a couple weeks later I’ll write another song and say, ‘Wow! Actually, THIS is the heaviest song I’ve ever made!’ It’s a great feeling when you’re constantly progressing and getting better within every song. Also, remember: Little progress is better than no progress!”

This is so important. Constantly comparing ourselves to others can really be a letdown. It’s detrimental but unavoidable. What matters most is our own progress. There’s going to be days where you have no direction or motivation, but even the smallest steps can actually, metaphorically, be the biggest. I know what everyone’s thinking, enough with all of the cliché rhetoric, but it’s the truth. Many artists don’t realize that growth can come in waves and small fragments, but I’m glad that LAYZ has. This is a big part of what has brought her success, not giving up.

Are there any artists that inspire you?

“I look up to a lot of artists but the main ones that inspire me the most are Marauda, Svdden Death (specifically VOYD), PhaseOne, Sullivan King, Kompany, and BadKlaat. Marauda inspires me to think outside the box when producing. I’ve seen him produce once in person and I was mind blown about the way he creates his main basses. VOYD actually inspired me to make my song “Umbra”. After I saw my first VOYD set, I fell in love with creating songs that sound dark and deep. He inspires me to make my sets an experience by going above and beyond with the music production and visual production. I absolutely love the mixture of heavy metal and dubstep from PhaseOne and Sullivan King. Since I grew up with an older brother, I was always around metal. It wasn’t till a couple of years ago I started to appreciate metal, such as I Prevail, August Burns Red, and In Hearts Wake. These two artists inspire me to create dubstep with a hint of metal. It’s crazy how things come full circle because I’m about to go on a bus tour with Sullivan King! The music production from Kompany and BadKlaat really inspires me. I’ve watched a lot of their production tutorials. Any song they release, I absolutely love. Both of their sound designs are unmatched. Last but not least (it’s a given), Excision is my main inspiration. This isn’t only because of his music but his set overall. The visuals, the lighting production, the stages. It’s all an experience and that’s what separates him from the others. He inspires me to have my sets like that one day.”

LAYZ has played at Hard Summer, Lost Lands, and Big Dub Festival. Her most recent festival, Lost Lands was her favorite festival to play at because Legend Valley meant a lot to her. It’s where she first decided that she wanted to become an artist. “Four years later, I’m now on the other side of the stage. As for venues, I have played at a ton of venues. But, the most memorable one has got to be Echostage in DC. The production was great, the crowd was lit, and plus it was on New Year’s Day!”

It was a pleasure interviewing and learning about her past and current successes. As I said before, I’m proud to know such an amazing female producer and can’t wait to see more accomplishments from LAYZ! If you want to hear some heavy dubstep, make sure you check out the links below and don’t forget, “One step at a time”. -X



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