Following the release of her brand new single Make Up Your Mind, we caught up with artist and songwriter Leyla Diamondi to find out more about the song, her journey so far in music, and her hopes for the future of the industry. Here’s the conversation in full.
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Hi Leyla – great to chat with you, congrats on the new single! What can you tell us about Make Up Your Mind – what does the song mean for you?
Make Up Your Mind is about how in a relationship, things are sometimes complicated. Make Up Your Mind was a phrase I used to tell myself a lot when being indecisive and fearful about what decision to make or path to choose. I feel overcoming this fear brought me a lot of power and clarity allowing me to be rational in complicated situations, like relationships.
I wrote this song after my brother and a few OG fans mentioned they wanted my song Make Up Your Mind to come back. I wrote the first version of Make Up Your Mind when I was 13. After some consistent requests, I went through all of my old songwriting books and files, and I found the song. It was cutely written down in colouring pencil. It was funny to see how emotional I was about some heartbreak when I was a young teen and I thought to myself, ‘you know what, I’m bringing Make Up Your Mind back.’
Do you produce your own music, and if so – what’s your go-to DAW, and your favourite way to begin a new track?
I do produce my own music. I don’t have one way of writing songs; I go with whatever comes naturally to me or whoever I am working with. I think letting the song hatch organically is so important because you can ruin an incredible idea by trying to force it to work.
I can give an example: for Make Up Your Mind, I first recycled the song from a previous version I wrote, but I re-wrote the lyrics, melody and structure. Then, I went to studio with my friend, ‘Lef,’ to produce and compose the music that day, before refining the lyrics with my partner, ‘Charlie.’ I then recorded my vocals with ‘Lef,’ and finally went to my friend Imad for further production, engineering, mixing and mastering.
You have a notable and beautifully unique singing voice – are you vocally or musically trained?
Thank you so much and yes, I am. My mum put me into classical singing lessons when I was 4. I didn’t start taking my training seriously until I turned 17. I was at the London Youth Choir for a little bit and then decided to go into the entertainment industry.
How have you been coping with the pandemic and the lock-down, personally and artistically – have you been live-streaming or writing anything new?
Quarantine has really been about learning lessons for me. In my personal life, I saw all the best things and all the mess within my relationships (not just romantic). I had to work out whether or not I could work through these issues, and how to work through them: Make Up Your Mind, essentially. This is why I released the song when I did. I felt this song matched what I was going through and so I released the song to share my truth and let others know they aren’t alone in this.
I have had the time to write a lot of new material. Whenever I have had a creative block, I have asked producer friends to send me any beats they want to share and from the emotions in the music, I have been able to work my way through another song.
On the 9th May 2020, I did a live-stream performance with War Child charity to raise money for their cause. War Child say what they do is ‘protect, educate and stand up for the rights of children in war.’
Is live performance a big part of your plans, and if so – what would be your dream venue or event to perform at?
I have learnt to love to perform. About a year ago, I would cry before and after shows from the fear of being vulnerable. Now, being on stage is genuinely my favourite place to be; it feels like home. So, yes, performance is a massive part of my plans and I can’t wait to get back on stage.
My dream venue/event is to perform at Glastonbury.
How long have you been involved in music, and what do you think the longer-term impacts of 2020 may be on the industry?
I have always been involved with music. It was always something important to me, whether it be listening, playing, singing or dancing.
I think, from the pandemic, artists have learnt new ways of marketing themselves and will start to implement more online content in the long run.
Hopefully, after this is all over, people will have more appreciation for being able to go out and watch live-entertainment resulting in live-music venues getting more traffic.
How important has networking or collaborating been for you as an indie artist?
Meeting people naturally through performances and events has been super important for me. Some of the smallest performances have resulted in the biggest opportunities.
I am always open to collaborate; I think it teaches you a lot of skills, regardless of if something is produced at the end or not. Sometimes, you can meet people that you choose to release a song with or continue to work with on your own material, or nothing at all.
What’s your plan of action as a creative performer, going forwards?
I hope to get back on stage and get back in the studio. I miss it too much.
Is there a longer project on the way?
Right now, I am writing as much as possible and I’m seeing where things go. So, there might be…
If you could sit down to lunch with anyone at all, past or present, who would you choose, and what would you ask them about?
This is really hard to pick just one. I would probably like to sit down with Lady Gaga; she was the first artist I was inspired by growing up, and I would like to ask her how she developed her brand into the icon she is today.
What’s the best thing people can do to support you?
Support themselves: self-care and working on their own well-being.
Is there anything else we should know?
I would like to ask everyone to educate themselves on topics like police brutality and systemic racism. Before what happened to George Floyd, I was aware of the issues but didn’t really know as much as I should have. Now, I have become more educated, and I ask others to do the same. There is a lot the world chooses not to teach us, so it is our responsibility to self-educate.
Thank you for having me! This has been super fun!
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