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Interview: MC Layla

Today is Thursday, which means today is Xpress Day. Featured this week are interviews with the Foo Fighters, Peter Bjorn And John, and Rahzel. There’s also an interview article of mine conducted with Perth’s own MC Layla (reprinted in full below) to promote this weekend’s Kings Of Sound event.

You can find Xpress at all good music stores, but it’s also liberally scattered throughout the Perth CBD.

HERETIK HEART

MC Layla

MC Layla: "Expecations can be a mother-plucker."

The mischievous MC Layla first made waves on the Perth music scene almost a decade ago. However after her debut album, Heretik, in 2005 she retreated to university studies. At Kings Of Sound, she’s back. Layla talks to GLEN PARKS about how she got into MCing, her next album and avoiding expectations.

When dealing with Layla Handbury, aka MC Layla, its best not to take anything she says seriously. Almost every question is met with an odd answer, a strange non-sequitur or a unique euphemism. She is equal parts mischievous, playful and obstructive. She’s also arguably the best female MC to come out of Perth.

Having always been into writing poetry, it wasn’t until a throwaway compliment to one of Handbury’s compositions that she really considered MCing. As Handbury remembers it, “One quiet little munchkin recites mournful poem to best friend in corner of a rapper’s birthday party. King Hunter, a stranger at time may I add, turned and said, ‘Spit that shit to a beat, girl.’ Eh Voila.”

When asked how she would describe the ‘sound of MC Layla’, Handbury flippantly asks, “Who’s MC Layla?” before using probably the most inventive description for music ever. “Layla sounds kind of like a raw bullet carved out of a sharpened parsnip.”

In 2005 Handbury released her debut album, Heretik, on Obese Records. A follow up has been on the cards ever since. If you believe Handbury, there’s only one small problem, managing to get some time with her partner in crime, Downsyde’s Dazastah. “First I have to hijack Dazastah, wipe his mind of the numerous other albums he’s working on, inject pure coffea arabica into both of our eyeballs and then finally put down these 20 plus tracks I have had written for it for quite some time.”

Since the release of Heretik, Handbury has grown up a lot and that growth has spilled over into her music. One of the big developments is that she has found her natural voice. “It’s still a tad man-ish and raw, but definitely not so annoying,” she says, rather self critically. “My delivery and flow has definitely improved but I still feel I have a huge way to go songwriting wise. I am notoriously bad for writing lengthy verses and never tying them up. I also take approximate 14 month breaks between contemplation.”

When asked what she would be if she weren’t and MC, Handbury points to her current studies. “I’m currently studying a degree in natural medicine, hence my disappearance. Otherwise I’d just be grateful I’m not dead, a 2 dollar hooker, or working as a circus hen.”

Layla finally gets slightly more serious when the subject of the future is brought up. “Hopefully the future holds a mic with a stern grip. I’d like to make another album this year, accompanied by multiple lovemaking sessions with the stage. There’ll definitely be a few more wrinkles and kilos; possibly motherhood of some freaky Dazla geniuses. Not quite yet though. Hell, I may even get my driver’s licence one day.”

But then she’s back to flippant self, “Let’s not plan anything, hey. Expectations can be a mother-plucker.”

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2 responses to “Interview: MC Layla

  1. Rachel August 7, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    Hi Glen!

    I’m a second year BMus student interested in interviewing MC Layla for a university assignment. I see this was a recent interview you conducted with her, and was wondering if you’d be so kind to help me get in touch. I would very much appreciate your assistance.

    Best regards,
    Rachel.

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