Laila was born a week late (‘and I’ve been late for everything ever since’) and aged five, found something rather unusual in the garden: ‘it was a tiny teacup,’ she says. ‘I thought it was from fairies!’
Laila can boast heritage from around twelve different countries, including part Cherokee Indian. With a whole host of varying interests – including politics, nature, theatre, space, cooking, architecture, travel, musicals and more – one of the things that she finds most fascinating is other people. ‘How they live, how they think, what they do,’ she says. ‘I find the people I work with endlessly interesting, but am equally interested in the people who have been forgotten by history, the sort who appear in brief descriptions in books. Trying to fill in the blanks and paint a picture of these people is one of my favourite past times.’
Tell us a bit about yourself…
I spend most of my time running around or reading as I’m just completing my Masters in music. I studied at Goldsmiths, which was one of the best experiences of my life. I was very sceptical of the education system and people in general following 7 utterly miserable years in a private school under a scholarship… consequently I went to Goldsmiths College, where I found like-minded people and adored every minute. I always feel really sorry for people who don’t enjoy their degrees or get the same sense of satisfaction because I had the most inspiring and fulfilling experience during my degree.
I’m a musician: one half of the band Kids With Crayons, (we write “quirky” story-telling songs), and director/founder/member of a contemporary collective WOLF PACK, (we do concerts in warehouses, pubs, town halls, make costumes, write zines and give out presents whilst playing a really eclectic programme). At the moment I’m also working with the theatre company Rhum and Clay for their 2012 Fringe production.
I’m also a writer – apart from songs at the moment I’m writing an article on Jimi Hendrix for publication and a piece on folk music in London, which I’m now also making into a film (entirely new pastures!). I contribute articles to zines, student papers or online magazines – normally about my musical projects.
I also make hair accessories and jewellery which I sell at markets and on the internet. I’m re-branding and re-designing at the moment so check back on that one soon…
What are your inspirations?
Most of my ideas seem to just come from my own head but I suppose due to the intertextual society I’ve grown up in (along with my generation!), I’m exposed to media and culture all the time I’m influenced by everything I’m exposed to in some way. So everything around me! I have quite a strong sense of personal tastes, as I think my interests have mostly stayed the same since I was very small – fairies, magic, nature, animals, early animation, antiques and “old things”.
I’ve also been passionate about human and animal rights issues since I was quite young which informs a lot of my thinking and how I approach projects, and then as I said the lives of others. James, my bandmate, is probably my biggest source of inspiration as I spend nearly all of my time with him and find him endlessly fascinating to talk to. A lot of the songs in Kids With Crayons are about James’ life, from my point of view.
What is your favourite piece of work you have produced?
Generally whatever is currently being worked on. I think my favourites tend to be the things I’ve put the most of myself into – my favourite songs I’ve written are called Aquamarine, Creeping and Nettles (which is Kids With Crayons) which are all very autobiographical. My infrequent forays into art are some of my most favourite things I’ve produced as well – I once made a zine for a boyfriend that documented a year of our lives together which I put so much of myself into, I was very proud. I hope he still has it…
I’m really proud of running Wolf Pack – it’s the most ambitious project I’ve ever started but it’s doing pretty well so far! We did a Wolf Pack concert in a chapel called LOVE, and that was amazing – we did it in two weeks and organised it like a wedding, so girls in wedding dresses were going up the aisle, holding paper flowers, singing and playing, meeting their male duet partners at the altar. Even though we weren’t in the audience you could feel the magical atmosphere that we created – seeing a group of brides walking up the aisle, out of nowhere, whilst one of them sang this beautiful traditional song was brilliant and the audience were visibly stunned. It was just a magical moment which I shall never forget – that’s what life is really about, I think: these magical moments of shared connections.
Who is your favourite ‘creative’ in your chosen field?
My favourite musicians are Kate Bush, Nick Drake, Big Star, Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James, Talking Heads, Radiohead, Asobi Seksu, Pavement, Cab Calloway, Amy Winehouse, Anne Briggs, SOAD, Shostokovich, Berio, Stockhausen, Rzewski.
My favourite writers are Virginia Woolf, Angela Carter, Linda Hutcheon, Roald Dahl, Joe Dunthorpe, Luella Bartley (not really a writer in the same sense I guess but I love her book… also my favourite fashion designer so no wonder), Tove Jansson, Naoko Takeuchi, Mikhail Bulgakov, JD Salinger, John Keats, Kurt Vonnegut and one of my favourite books ever is Candide, or Optimism by Voltaire.