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25 September 2017Last updated
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My Fabulous Friday: Layla Kardan

Hot on the heels of her first single, the Dubai-based singer on how she has defied convention, with a little help from Mowgli and truffle fries

Shreeja Ravindranathan
14 Apr 2017 | 11:00 am
  • Layla Kardan

    Source:Supplied

SOLITARY WEEKENDS

I like to wake up with the sun on weekends, take a walk outside (if weather permits) and spend the day in a quiet space to read. As I perform gigs most nights and work on my music during the day, Friday is when I reward myself with some peace and solitude. I do enjoy spending quality time with friends, though! We hike or wakeboard.

HOME IS A FEELING

I was born in Belgium, raised in between Sydney and Dubai and my heritage is Iranian. My father’s business brought us here back in the 1980s. So I feel like I am from everywhere and nowhere. Dubai has always been my second home and I have spent some of my best years here, which is why the video for my first single (As One) was shot in Bur Dubai and Mena Bazaar – we lived on the Deira side of the creek and the Bazaar and the sensory overload of it all are some of my earliest memories.

BREAKING GOOD

I loved singing from a very young age, but was discouraged by my father as in our culture ‘good girls are not entertainers’. So I went onto study and graduate and work as a professional in the corporate world as a ‘good girl’ would do, but the burning desire to write songs and express myself through melody never died. I realised that if I didn’t live my truth I’d suffocate and so I hung up my corporate boots two years ago to pursue music full-time. It’s hard to go against social conventions and the music industry is tough, but I’ve not looked back and I haven’t ever felt more fulfilled.

MOVED BY MOWGLI

I remember hearing the music of Jungle Book, the Disney cartoon, at a very young age – maybe three or four – and feeling so moved. That music ignited my passion and love for jazz and neo-soul music – my greatest influences are Nina Simone, Erykah Badu, Sade and Jill Scott.

COUNT MY BLESSINGS

Ever since I saw Kurdish filmmaker Karzan Kader’s film Bekas at Dubai International Film Festival, I’ve been grateful for the life I’ve been given. The story of two orphan brothers trying to escape war-afflicted Erbil in Iraq to go to the US and bring back Superman penetrated my soul and plucked my heartstrings; I could’ve very easily been born in the middle of a war in Iran. It reminds me to count my blessings daily.

SEVEN YEAR GLITCH

I don’t watch TV. I haven’t watched TV for seven years. I’ll occasionally watch a few minutes if someone else is watching in the room, but I make a point not to do it daily, or even months at a time.

HAPPINESS IS…

Truffle fries with Parmesan, they’re my guilty pleasure. Or being on a beach in Marbella with my mother and sister.

WASH AWAY THE TENSION

Some people sleep away their stress; I take a bath and drink herbal tea, or just sit in a candle-lit room.

PEEK INTO PERU

I’d love to go to Peru for a year and spend time with the locals learning about Mayan culture, walking the Inca trail to Machu Picchu and learning how to play the harango, which is a pan-flute-style instrument with a soothing, enchanting sound.

ANTIQUE SHOW

I have an antique vinyl jazz record collection that I love, but I don’t really have any attachments. The last thing I splashed cash on was an antique silk kimono from Japan.

SONGSTERS OF DUBAI

The English music scene in Dubai is emerging and established artists support and encourage beginners. I’d like to see more support from venues to feature original music/artists and more interest from audiences to hear new music. Singing my originals for the first time at the Emirates Airlines Jazz Festival in Dubai in February to such a warm and receptive crowd was amazing was one of my most memorable onstage moments.

MONDEGREEN

I don’t think I am the only one, but for the longest time I thought Adele was Chasing Penguins instead of Chasing Pavements. I thought it was a bit weird that such a profound lyricist had a thing for chasing penguins!

THE SWEETEST THING

I had an artist in the audience once who was so inspired by my performance he sketched a simple yet beautiful drawing while watching me and it was so on-point with the message. I was touched. I have the drawing framed.

Shreeja Ravindranathan

Shreeja Ravindranathan