Interview: Layzi is anything but lazy

Next year will see even more of the bedroom pop artist as she's releasing a song in February and an EP in early summer.
layzi interview
Madeleine Aitken
Madeleine Aitken
Madeleine recently graduated from Tufts University with degrees in English and film & media studies and lives in Cambridge, MA. She likes to write features and reviews and is most interested in music and movies. Contact: maddieaitken22@gmail.com

If consistency is key, Layzi has unlocked the door of possibility. Self-produced lo-fi indie pop artist Layzi has made songwriting a daily practice. “Every day I come home from work, and I do my little fun activities at home like doing the dishes, and then I sit there and just try and write a song,” Layzi said, FaceTiming me late on a chilly Sunday afternoon from her Somerville bedroom. 

With numerous singles and a 6-song EP from 2021, Layzi is off to a great start. After uploading small experiments on SoundCloud, she moved on to releasing official songs in 2020. But really, music has been in her blood for much longer. Both of her parents play music: her mom is a piano teacher, and her dad plays the guitar. “I grew up playing piano because of my mom, and then my dad taught me guitar, and then I taught myself other instruments growing up, and…yeah, you can see how that went,” the 24-year-old artist said with a knowing smile. 

When she was 14, her interest in music transitioned from playing other people’s music to making her own, and she started remixing songs on Audacity. “I would just mess around with stuff and see what happened,” Layzi said. “Then, when I was 18, I got GarageBand and a little Yeti mic, and I had an acoustic guitar, and I would record songs into GarageBand.” Though the quality of her music has improved since then, Layzi still makes all of it at home, and being a bedroom pop artist who actually makes music in their bedroom is a point of pride for her.

In July, Layzi released a 2-song EP, summer ‘17 // idk. It begins with tweeting bird sounds overlaid with a rising beat before vocals enter. As its title, “summer ’17,” suggests, the intro feels perfectly summery with a hint of nostalgia for days gone by. The lyrics echo that sentimentality: “There’s no one quite like you / I know nobody else will feel the same as you,” Layzi laments over a slow but steady beat. It’s the kind of track that inspires yearning and reflection—bedroom pop to be listened to in the bedroom. Meanwhile, “idk” is a poppier, more upbeat song, but contains that same longing in its lyricism: “I can’t sleep at night / just wish I was with you.” The song’s beginning has an almost elevator music quality, like what you would hear in a cool waiting room before Layzi’s soft, sultry vocals come in. At times, a thumping beat underlaying the whole song overshadows her vocals, but the effect is pleasant, adding to the song’s electronic lo-fi vibe.

Her songs, across the board, tap into this kind of searching and yearning for love. Layzi despairs over a lover shopping partners on “Shop Around,” debates accepting poor treatment on “Stupid,” and questions her feelings on “Nothing Ever Feels Right.” But beyond depicting her love for others, Layzi also specializes in the self-love ballads. “And I think I need some time on my own / happier with no one knocking on my door,” she proclaims on the punchy, dance-pop anthem “Ego.” And the funky electronic “Hide & Seek” has her wondering if her “friends were right”: “Baby can’t you see I’m fine / sleeping alone every night.”

The inspiration for these songs, said Layzi, comes from far and wide. “I feel like everything I listen to inspires me, but I also have those bands that literally flipped a switch in my brain to be, like, do this, you can do this,” said Layzi. One of those bands, Layzi said, is SALES, an indie pop duo from Florida, particularly their song “Off and On,” from their 2018 album Forever & Ever. “I sat down after listening to that song on Soundcloud and was, like, oh my god, and then I wrote ‘Different,’” said Layzi. “That’s kind of what started it, so I would say they always inspire me.”

Layzi’s “Different,” with a refrain of “thought this time was different, you’re the same / what made me think that you could change,” is reminiscent of SALES “Off and On,” which features a similar refrain: “You can’t say the words / you can’t say the words / … I can’t say the words, I can’t say the words,” and a similar soft, lo-fi sound. Even though lyrically she’s admonishing herself for falling into old traps, sound-wise, it’s nicely lowkey, a subtle background track that would fit in well to a cozy-evening-in sort of playlist.

Layzi, whose real name is Carissa, is one of those artists whose name keeps you guessing. Is it lazy, or more like lay-zee-eye? Turns out it’s pronounced like the former but motivated by the latter. “When I was a kid, I had a lazy eye. One day my mom was yelling at me to put my glasses on. She was, like, ‘You have a lazy eye—you have to put your glasses on, it’ll help!’” said Layzi. “I was pissed, and I was trying to think of a band name or an artist name.” She came to ‘Layzi,’ a play on lazy eye that’s pronounced like ‘lazy.’ “I also feel like it works because the music’s kind of chill and lazy.”

But Layzi doesn’t live up to her name, at least not in her pursuit of musical success. She performs live shows, has forthcoming new music, and is working on side projects, like making music videos and co-hosting the podcast, Music You’re Missing. She performed at Brighton Music Hall last month, opening for HUNNY with Mallcops, and has another show coming up next week at the Rockwell in Somerville, where she’s opening for Dead Gowns. “Playing live shows is my favorite part of being a musician,” Layzi said. “I have a band that backs me up when I play live, it’s cool because it does sound different than my recorded stuff but in a good way.” Last year, she went on tour, and one of the stops was South by Southwest where she played at a bar in downtown Austin. “That was really fun, probably one of my favorite ones,” Layzi said. 

She was nominated for Pop Artist of the Year and Song of the Year for “To the Side,” released with Mallcops, by the Boston Music Awards. Other nominees include much larger artists like Noah Kahan, Joyner Lucas, and BIA; the Pop Artist of the Year category places Layzi alongside nominees like Clairo and Charlotte Sands. Layzi has accomplished a lot for being 24, and honors like these prove she’s on the right path. “It means a lot to me to even be nominated because there are so many artists in this area,” Layzi said. “It’s been two or three years now that I’ve been nominated, and every time it’s a nice little shock—a happy surprise.”

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