Singer and Musician Leyla talks about the changes and opportunities for artists these days -remembering the beginning of her career and inspiring others through her music. Here is what she had to share:
Do you think there are a lot more opportunity for artists these days?
Yes, and no. I feel that artists are more independent and can be more self-determined due to the internet and social media; it is easier to get direct contact to an audience, but at the same time it takes a lot of work and outreach in addition to creating music. You have to be a music entrepreneur. Record labels are interested in signing an artist mostly if they have already created a big following and have an audience on their own.
What do you find most helpful when promoting your new material?
I feel that having a social media presence all year round and building a large audience before you release new material is important and not just at the moment when promoting music. For me music is a more than promotion, it is a life style that you convey and even more specifically a call to action. With my music I would like to facilitate well being, healing and self care and inspire people to look deeper, to discover their unique light, to find their voice and own it. My call to action at the moment is : be the ‘Legion Of Light’ meaning, be the light that you already are, connect to that power and bring that light and love everywhere you go!
I also like to post inspirational quotes and pictures or something educational that can enrich daily life in a positive way such as a short meditations or even healthy food inspiration. It is my mission to inspire and uplift – while not trying to ignore the negative things happening all around the world – but I believe in facing challenges with a positive and hopeful mindset. It is also great to attach an important cause to promoting new material, because in reality it is not about me, it is about achieving something greater and raising consciousness and awareness for important topics that are affecting Mother Earth such as climate change and the destructive effects of single use plastics.
Where do you come up with the inspirations when you write?
Generally I start the process with mediation where I connect to the Earth and Universal Mind and I ask and hope to be a conduit of healing and a channel of inspiration and love. I also look at social media, news and topics that people write about to learn from people and their needs, sorrow and fears. Sometimes I see, read, hear words/concepts that pop out and from a single word I develop a song. Another way is to just improvise a melody with or without piano and develop it further from there.
Is there any particular time when you got writers block or didn’t feel inspired?
There are times when I get overwhelmed because I have so much to do and I usually need freedom and space in my mind to create. I need to be in a good, pure and positive place emotionally and I don’t like to create from anger and fear. I make sure that I practice mediation, yoga and mantra chanting everyday, especially Kundalini Yoga Technology has been very helpful to change my vibration when I am having an off day. I also have been doing transformational coaching with a spiritual teacher – to make sure I keep growing and connect to my Spirit. Generally it is important (for me) to create a schedule and a dedicated time to write and create and to commit to that time. I love structure and to be organized.
What do you remember the most about your very first performance?
I remember that I was very nervous and had a lot of stage fright. My body was shaking and I didn’t feel very present. I assumed that if I attended a professional Performing Arts School, I would master this, but it has taken time to get better at it and I am still fighting nerves. I had to learn how to believe in myself and I tend to fall into perfectionism and thinking ‘I am not good enough’. This is also why it matters to me so much to inspire people to believe in themselves. Yoga and mediation helped me enormously and also to sing for a greater purpose. I really believe music is a powerful tool for healing and transformation and in the end, this is not about me or my ego. It’s all about a greater good.
What style of music would you love to try working on that you haven’t done yet?
Pop Music is my first love but because I am a graduate of a Musical Theatre program I have tried many genres including Musical Theatre, Classical and Jazz. One of my goals is to getting better at singing Kirtan which has its roots in India. Many of the songs are sung in Sanskrit. I also would love to record a Kundalini Yoga mantra CD in the near future.
What is one of your favorite songs and artists at the moment?
That’s a tough question, since there are so many great artists. I listen to many different genres and to a lot of mantras and healing music on a daily basis (White Sun, Snatam Kaur, Simrit, Jai-Jagdeesh). I love Tory Kelly, Sam Smith, Freya Ridings, Pink, Yebba, Lauren Daigle, India Arie and Beyonce but also Pavarotti, Mozart, The Beatles, Aretha Franklin, Grace Potter, Whitney Houston and Christina Aguilera, to name a few.