Layla Zoe describes experiencing her show as follows: “ I tear out your heart and then give it back to you”. Indeed Layla, the Firegirl and called “Canada’s Darling of the Blues” by the press, is often compared to Janis Joplin for her raw and emotional performances on stage. Layla Zoe was born in British Columbia, Canada in the late 70’s. Her earliest recollections are of sitting on her father’s knee and singing along while he strummed on his guitar. Influenced by his love of the blues and a diverse record collection, she started singing at an early age and had her first experiences on stage with her father’s band at age fourteen. Layla says her musical self-education came from working four long years, starting in her latter teens, in a gigging blues band, basically sacrificing any social life to hone her craft. She made the conscious decision to leave that band and strike out on her own and has basically recorded an album a year since then. (You Will, Shades of Blue, Live at Errington Hall, Hoochie Coochie Woman, The Firegirl and Sleep Little Girl). She has also penned a self-published book of poetry (Diary of a Firegirl). Moving from her native BC first to Toronto and the opportunity to work with the amazing Jeff Healey and then to Montreal for the past several years, Layla has totally immersed herself in the local music scene wherever she has been with passion, dedication and optimism.
Layla won a songwriting competition in Finland in 2006 which opened the doors to gradually increased touring opportunities in continental Europe. The latest record, “Sleep Little Girl” was recorded in Germany with Henrik Freischlader and released on that country’s Cable Car records. Layla has made her best record to date and spent an enormous amount of energy and money promoting and performing it to audiences on both sides of the pond, increasing her reputation as one of the hardest working young blues women in Canada or anywhere for that matter.
The European based appetite for her music and the opportunities currently afforded her leave Layla on the eve of 2013 at a crossroads in her career and I expect a move to Europe is the next natural step in it’s development. Sit back and enjoy our conversation with Layla who graciously gave us some of her precious time off to record this interview in her favourite record shop. Layla, you rock!
Photo credits (left to right):
#1 Andreas Winkelsträter
#2 Johannes Horn
#3 Mark Maryanovich