Published: 18th April 2020
The 'Hero' in Chennai-based singer Laya's debut single is her grandfather
Born and raised in Chennai, Laya began to learn Bharatnatyam at a young age and has been a dancer all her life. The former teacher talks us through how this song came about
Laya has been many things — a dancer, an acapella singer, a school teacher and an RJ. All her experiences have culminated into making her a musician who just released her first single. A dream she had cherished for many years. Laya released her single under the label, AKASHIK, founded by popular rapper Lady Kash. The song and the video of Hero tells the story of a woman's relationship with her grandfather and losing touch with him over her decision to love a woman and stay true to herself. This is her story, Laya tells us.
Born and raised in Chennai, Laya began to learn Bharatnatyam at a young age and has been a dancer all her life. Music though was something she was always enamoured by. It was only when she was in college, that she began to dabble in it more, she joined an acapella group, began performing, doing music arrangements and also recording. After getting her commerce degree, she decided to take a gap year — during this time she did some recording, worked on her voice, trained herself in different aspects of music learning. After all this, she decided to become a school teacher. Of music? Apparently not, "I taught all subjects," she says. "I was not moving away from music, I was just trying to save some money. I had to be able to afford being an artist," she adds.
She did love the job though, "I have always been interested in child psychology and I absolutely love children. So it was a great experience for me." And then a year later, she heard about auditions for an RJing gig at Radio City, "There were so many auditions and frankly I don't know how I got the opportunity. I had lost touch with newspapers and I didn't do well at my interview but somehow I go the job and I enjoyed it completely. It was then that I met Lady Kash," she narrates.
Meeting Lady Kash changed her life entirely. "We got to know each other and I performed for her. She felt that I had the potential to create music and so I began to write. I actually had another song that was supposed to get made first but one day I just sat down and began to miss my grandfather. And I wrote this song for him. When I showed it to Lady Kash, she said this was the song that had to be my first," she explained.
In the song, Laya narrates the relationship that she had with her grandfather while she was growing up and the strong bond the two shared. "My grandfather was my first love. I learned so much from him about how to respect people, to love people. He was my person. But we don't talk anymore become of some issues and I miss him, that's what the song is about," she adds.
In the video, Lady Kash comes in to comfort Laya as she is unable to explain to her grandfather that she's in love with a woman. A video on same-sex love is not something that the South Indian music scene has seen much of, "This is probably the first time that someone is shooting a video based on a same-gender couple in love. And since its release many people have reached out to me, people who haven't spoken to me in years and have said how wonderful it is and how important the message of the song is. It's truly heartwarming," she says. The song was directed by Ken Royson and co-directed by Lady Kash, herself.
Laya credits AKASHIK for how well the song has come out, "This is an independent label and it stays true to the word. I got all the freedom that I needed, other labels sometimes force the artist to make changes but I was allowed to be myself completely. It was a very deep, very emotional song. One where I was expressing my vulnerabilities and I got all the space that I needed to do what I wanted to do. So I'm thrilled that I had the chance to work with this label and with Lady Kash," the Ethiraj alumnus said.
Her next single should be out in two or three months, she tells us, "It is an R&B song, which is not really my genre, but it's a super crazy song and I'm waiting for it to release," she adds. Till then, she'll bask in the success of Hero.