laye is a young artist hailing from musical Montreal. With a debut record just weeks away from release and an appearance at Osheaga the week after, laye is a name you’ll surely be hearing more frequently in the months to come. laye has been working on her debut album lonesome (pre-save now on Spotify) over the past three years and the result was worth waiting for by the sounds and looks of our exclusive premiere of her newest music video “no love lost.”
The video was shot alongside director Mark Martis, who brought out the very best in laye that aided her in creating a dark, even sinister take on a song with some rather emotionally challenging content. lonesome isn’t just any album; it’s been an epic journey and experience spanning four years that took her to New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto to work with some very talented producers. Some of the names on this list include Lauren Christy (G-Eazy, Dua Lipa), Federico Vindver (Jennifer Lopez, Lauryn Hill, FNZ, G-Eazy, A$AP Rocky), Ben Harrison and Ibrahim Asmar (Rihanna, Rita Ora) and Pomo (Mac Miller, Anderson .Paak).
With its brutal honesty, “no love lost” is one of the best examples on Lonesome that show how a song so intimate can make you feel like you are listening to a behind-closed-doors conversation. You may feel like you’re looking at unsent text messages not meant for anyone to see, a feeling rarely, if ever, brought out in listening to a piece of music. With her final advance single (“sicker”) now working its way into the hearts and minds of music aficionados the world over, laye will now focus on appearing at select clubs and festivals as often as she can.
If you’ve yet to see this video, there’s “no love lost.” That said, there’s good reason to watch it:
laye’s incredible ability to set her moods and feelings to music is entirely genuine if “sicker” and “likefck” are any indication. Put laye on your list of artists to watch and bookmark her new album Lonesome; she’ll be filling concert theatres with fanatic fans in no time at all. In addition to our video premiere, laye also took a bit of time to talk with PureGrainAudio about some of the mechanics behind her upcoming release to her performance at Toronto’s Drake Underground a few weeks ago. Also included here are some photos of her performance, along with a few candid images also taken at the venue.
Could you talk a little bit about your upcoming album release? Specifically, the album’s title, where it was recorded, production personnel and process and cover/interior/artwork and photography? I am assuming you might have had a hand in the artwork. laye:Lonesome was a word that fit lovely with the themes throughout this album and my music in general. I’d wanted to use a word that started with “l” for no real reason, and Lonesome came to me one day and right away I knew that it would be the title of this project. I love the sound of it, the feel of it. I did this album over the past three years. When starting it, I wasn’t in the best of places mentally, and I think that the feeling of being lonely heightened during that time as well because overall, I wasn’t feeling great. Loneliness was an extension of that sadness in a way. I think that my music doesn’t necessarily carry the sadness because of the way I went production-wise but the themes are ones that stem from it.
“boy” is about seeking the company of basically anyone in order to not be left alone with your own thoughts, but not wanting to get to know them and their secrets, just share their company. “sicker” tackles self-acceptance in a way but more so about still showing that you’re struggling with it while craving it. “more” is a more personal track, I wrote that one about my own mental state in a way without saying too much about it. In the happier tunes, or more upbeat tunes; “milk n’ honey” and “no love lost,” those two are about being in relationships that may or may not be the best for you but you’re in them either because of the fear of being lonely, or in order to not feel lonely. The Lonesome concept just found it’s way into all of the songs and lyrics, sometimes more subtly and sometimes more outwards.
Mike Bax’s shots of laye at Drake Underground (Toronto, ON) on June 24, 2019:
In terms of artwork, yes, that’s something that I’m so so passionate about and have spoken on before, and it was essential to me during the album making process. It’s something that I’ve had a very strong vision for what I want and where I want to go with it, but haven’t always been able to achieve. Within the last few months, things have been coming together. The album artwork photos were from a photoshoot I did earlier this year with the album in mind. I had chosen the photographer that I wanted to shoot with, Anthony Tuccitto, as well as my makeup artist Summer O’Grady, and then I did the styling myself with my personal clothing, all thrift besides the shoes. Which is very much my every day that I want and need to incorporate into my art. We shot in a dirty motel room, which set the vibe that you can’t see in the final artwork because of how it was done, but you can feel it.
When it came down to the making of the artwork, I worked with Mark Martin who had reached out to me on email a while back and has since done my “dancing” and “sicker” single artwork as well as directed the music video for “no love lost.” I think we led up to the album artwork well with those other two singles and when it came time to do this one I wanted it in that same lane. I had done a bunch of mood-boards for the past two and added to them for this one, overall I really wanted it to look like a vintage horror poster mixed with some futuristic shitty edits like my Instagram feed. A blend of the past and present. And I had an obsession with hologram-looking photos, so he made that happen. In the final artwork, he included three versions of myself; the one on the left, he lowered the cheekbones to be the uglier side of me, my “dark thoughts and insecurities.” The one on the right, he raised my cheekbones to be my “higher/holier.” And in between the two is me.
Production-wise for the tracks on this album, it was a lot of trial and error. Like I mentioned, this was a project that I had had some songs that I wrote three years ago, but then I have the most recent ones from a few months ago. I’ve worked with a lot of different producers over that time-span, and have made a lot of songs that won’t see the light of day, so the ones on this project were chosen very carefully, and I’m so lucky to have worked with who I worked with on it. It’s hard when you have an album you’re putting together with a bunch of different producers because you want to make sure that the sound is consistent. I think that I’m fortunate with where I ended up and each song is unique to me in different ways because they are all flavoured differently with what each producer brought to it, which I think is really special.
no love lost, will be released on July 26th, 2019, via Sony Music:
Over the past year and a bit, you have been releasing singles and artwork/photography on your social feeds. Will all of these songs be included on your July 26th album release? (i.e., tracks like “likefck,” “goldfinger,” “milk n’ honey,” “haventhadlove,” “no love lost,” “dancing.”) laye: Yes, everything that is out thus far will be included, with a total of eleven songs.
Can you talk a bit about your writing process? Are you writing everything by yourself versus collaboration? Do you have a band and/or regular contributors collaborators? laye: In the beginning, I started off writing mostly alone, however, once I started getting in with a lot of producers, other writers would be brought into the room as well. I like writing alone mostly, but sometimes it’s nice to bounce ideas off of others. I do feel like I’m more attached to the song if it’s a concept that I’ve come up with and/or wanted to write about because you want to sing things that you relate to and that you’re feeling. I do like working with other writers but mostly for melody purposes because sometimes it’s easy to get stuck in your own usual flows, so when you have someone else that’s either had different musical influences or vocal tones even, they go to other places with their melodies that you can incorporate with your own and reimagine.
Does making “an album” mean that much to you as an artist? This is from the angle of you being a young artist, and given the current musical climate of musicians being able to release music digitally whenever and however they like. laye: I mean, yes and no. This album definitely means a lot to me because it’s my first one. So knowing that I’ve accomplished that, that I’ve made an album, is really wild and I love that aspect of it. But I think albums are beautiful when they tell a story when the artwork tells a story when the songs have meaning from front to back. And for this one, like I said, it’s one that’s come together over a few years. There was a lot of figuring out to do and a lot of finding the concept post-recording. A lot of different vocal production and a lot of different production in general.
Listening to laye’s new song “sicker” which will ACTUALLY make you feel better.
I think this album has motivated me to really make the second one special because now I’ve found out who I work well with and who I want to continue to work with. I almost see it as a learning step for my next album, and in that way, albums are important to me because I think that when you get it right, it will feel so fulfilling and like a chapter of your life has been documented. But I feel that way for songs as well. I think a song released alone without being a part of an album is also just as big a moment in your life. It doesn’t need to be a full chapter but just a page that is powerful enough to share. And in a way, as much as I say this album was a lot of figuring things out, that is a chapter of my life, these past three or more years have been a huge part of finding myself.
What is your measure for success as an artist? Selling pant-loads of your physical product? Being able to tour full time? Licensing your material for movies/television? laye: I want to be happy with the music I make, I want to be satisfied with the art and the feel of it all. I want to feel like I’ve done something that I’m proud of and I think that when you start feeling that way about yourself, others start seeing that in your work as well. And so success to me is feeling successful in your ups and downs. I want to get to a point where the downs don’t feel so low, but like a staircase for the ups? Would be lovely if the world loved the music too of course (laughs).
When you are paying money to see concerts, what are the most important things for you as a patron when you are in the venue? Are you looking for musical ability? An emotional connection between yourself and the artist? Merely after a good time? laye: All of the above. I like the show visuals too, so I like to see how the artist envisions their music coming alive. I so badly want to be at a point where I’m doing that and able to put on a full production. I do love seeing what others do, and how they change up their songs live, and how they interact. I guess I love the “show” aspect of it as much as the musicality.
Released last summer, check out laye’s music video for “milk n’ honey:”
I think it’s somewhat apparent from your Instagram/Facebook feeds that you are interested in/proficient in photography. Could you talk a little bit about photography, what got you into the medium, and a couple of your favourite photographers and the reason you like their work? laye: It’s something I’d love to learn more about and actually get into. Right now I love it, but I’m only using disposable film cameras, polaroids and iPhone photos (things that everyone uses) but what I really love is messing around with the photos afterwards. I don’t have Photoshop, and so I use iPhone apps or my laptop to do the edits, so they all have a shitty feel to them that I love and have enjoyed making. I definitely would love to get into Photoshop and photography more.
My favourite photographer goes by @d6rkangel on Instagram and her socials. She’s stunning. She focuses on Polaroid photography, but she does the styling and location scouting as well and has such a creative and unique eye for it all that I love. Love her colouring, her settings, her models, the mood. I like that she doesn’t do things conventionally and she likes capturing moments that aren’t necessarily what I’ve seen other photographers do or capture. I feel like her work is really one of a kind. She’s unique in her style, and I think that really puts her up there and sets her apart.
Have you been able to get down to Nashville and/or New Orleans at all? Two musical cities that most artists tend to describe as inspirational when it comes to crafting music. I’m curious to know if you’ve been/plan to go. laye: Travelling while making music is very refreshing, and I haven’t been to either of the two, but I would love to!! I’ve talked about Nashville a bit and had a ticket to go there at one point, but it didn’t end up happening.
In the recent years where you have been nurturing the experiences and material that ultimately led to your debut album, what do you feel are the key things you have learned as an up-and-coming artist? laye: Everything I’ve gone through, everything people around me have gone through, all that I’ve experienced in some way has led up to this album. And I’d say “don’t get distracted,” because that’s so easily done. It’s so easy to let small things or people ruin your creative mind and happiness but try to stay clear of anything that gets you down or out of it and surround yourself with the people that lift you.
I’ve learned that there are more downs than ups, but that’s what makes the ups feel like ups! Push through. Always push through but take care of yourself because ultimately, you want to feel good when you get to a place where there are opportunities or where you can finally be happy. You want to be able to feel that, so push through because this is a hard business to be in, but take care of yourself as well, so you’re able to receive the good things that come your way.