“Coming from a Middle Eastern family, it was never encouraged to sing,” recalls artist Layla Kardan. Boasting a master’s degree in business and taking a corporate job, she eventually defied convention to follow her musical path. “I had the guts to break free from social expectations to live my truth, start writing songs, and work as a singer,” says Kardan, who has been singing professionally since 2016. She credits her regular exposure to classical music via 12 years of ballet, as well as endless hours locked in her room educating herself about jazz and soul melodies, as her musical foundation. Today, she writes her own songs and works with international songwriters and producers who help her “see out her vision.” Her goal: branch out of Dubai and forge an international career as a “dream pop and electronic soul” musician.
Originally printed in the December 2018 issue of Vogue Arabia.
With her debut album, Saved, just launched, Kardan is aiming for her introspective lyrics to reach a wider audience. “‘Never without, I look within.’ I love this line as it’s a reminder that all you need is within you. Through introspection you have the power to feel whole and content,” she says. “It’s a matter of perception and how you view the world. Material possessions are nice, but they are not your identity.” Inspired by the careers of Nina Simone, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, and Sade, the artist sings at fashion events, music festivals, and global forums related to gender equality and women’s causes. “The rise of the female is the subject of many of my songs,” she affirms. “I always hope that my music moves my listener and conjures up emotions – good or bad – as long as they feel something as a result of my performance.” When she takes to the stage, in outfits by the likes of Dima Ayad and Arwa Al Banawi, her melodic riffs and soulful voice are instantly recognizable for their unmistaken, unapologetic edge.
Read on for the tracks Kardan will be playing on repeat this New Year’s Eve.
“Navajo” by Masego
“Why Don’t You” by Cleo Soul
“I Owe You Nothing” by Seinabo Sey
“New Person, Same Old Mistakes” by Tame Impala
“Reserva” by Robn
“Don’t Touch My Hair” by Solange
“Say Yeah” by Troyboi
“Shade” by IAMDDB
“Golden” by Jill Scott
“Offence” by Little Simz