Layfullstop Is Making Music For Manchester's Soul
Layfullstop is exactly where she wants to be.
While successfully carving out a space for herself in Manchester’s ever blossoming creative scene, she has also recently released her new EP ‘Cherries’, consisting of five songs which embody the silky vocals of a neo-soul siren alongside her effortless flow.
Lay brings these tracks together with her love of jazz which was formed growing up. “With 'Cherries', I really wanted to get my soul and my jazz in as well as the hip-hop, and it really hones in on that and I’m just ecstatic that people can hear it.”
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This genre-defying triple threat is consistent in Layfullstop’s music, and something that she is very proud of. Sat with Clash, Lay discusses the aftermath of the release of 'Cherries' and the deliberate vulnerability that comes with releasing that first labour of love.
“I sat on 'Cherries' for three years before releasing it,” she laughs, “the night before (it was released) I had this big cry, generally just because when you’re in an industry where a lot of people may not always stick what it is that they are, for me I just really wanted to stay true to who I am and I found, even though previous songs like 'Intact' and 'Yin Yang' were 100% me, my development was not really there. Whereas 'Cherries' is exactly where I want it to be and was and absolutely still is my baby. It's my humble beginnings, 100%.”
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Kicking off with track 'Sounds Of The Rainbow' she invites us in; “welcome to the world of Layfullstop.” The EP is undoubtedly raw and personal, yet polished, with a fierce confidence. Talking about how she feels letting people into that world, Lay describes her progression as an artist.
“With older projects such as 'Colour Reaction' I felt vulnerable but with 'Cherries' I’m being vulnerable but with an older maturity so my vulnerability is on purpose. I feel a kind of ownership and control and thats why I really enjoyed this project cause it’s not just vulnerable, it is there for a purpose, and hopefully people can hear that.”
When asked about her involvement in the current Manchester music scene, Lay makes sure to clarify that it's not just talented musicians she is rubbing shoulders with. “When we talk about creatives it extends from the musicians we are talking about your videographers , photographers, graphic designers, etc. I know people focus on the music scene that’s happening in Manchester right now but it’s to do with everybody - they make it happen as well. That’s how the collaborations flow, this videographer worked with this artist etc and that’s how people develop their styles.”
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Spaces for creatives to meet and flow have been vital to her development as an artist, and for many others too. “I can’t stress the impact of creative workshops in the North, which are spaces for creatives to come together accompanied by someone who can help them develop and connect with other people who are developing as well.”
“It is important to have these hubs of creativity in Manchester - really allowing creatives to blossom 'cause without that, you know, even people who are looking for creatives, you know your promoters and stuff like that, they know where to go to find talent.”
Collaboration is at the heart of the Manchester creative scene, and Layfullstop has never been short of projects dip her toe into. “When I first started out in music, collaborating was a big part of what I was doing, I was part of three collectives of artists in Manchester so those were massive collaborations for me right from the get go and in those three collectives those people were in three other collectives so by then there was this whole big family because you would be going to rehearsal, seeing people all the time, always forming new collaborations”.
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She makes a point of talking about these interactions as friendships. Creating boundaries so that there is never a pressure to create seems to be the key to why these collaborations work so well.
“We make music together as artists, but secondly, we are friends in Manchester. We be chilling together so then when we do wanna collab we know each other by then not only as a creative but we can understand each other, it's a safe space to work in, like I know this person, their style, and how they think.”
When asked to recommend any up and coming artist from Manchester, Lay struggles to narrow it down.
• “HMD - I don’t even wanna box his sound in there’s just so many elements to him and he’s such an intriguing artist, I'm always drawn to his music.”
• “Mali Hayes - A soul artist and I just love her aura and if you watch her live its mesmerising.”
Out of the North, she also collaborated on a Basquiat inspired compilation earlier this year, 'Untitled' alongside the likes of Kojey Radical, Shabaka Hutchings and Nubya Garcia.
It’s only just the beginning for Layfullstop, and she has carefully positioned herself so that she can go in any direction she pleases, yet is in no rush to do so. “In terms of my next project I think as long as people understand that the common theme in all my music is gonna be jazz, soul, and hip-hop then it can be literally anything at all. I wanna keep surprising people.”
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Words: Megan Warrender
Catch Layfullstop at London's Sebright Arms on November 13th for The Great Escape's First Fifty.
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