The latest female artist set to conquer airwaves and earbuds from across the pond is Kayla. Her EP, #ThisIsKaylaMusic, comes out June 23rd on Metro 3 Entertainment.
“Mojito” is a dark, powerful track penned by Kayla and Alex Houton upon her observing the reckless behavior of a friend. “As people we’ve all been through times where we’ve felt pretty crappy, and we’ve all done it — you go out with your friends, just get drunk, party the night away and just try to forget all of the stuff going on around you,” she explains. “It’s like a bullet wound that you’re trying to drink away. It’s the craziness we feel when we’re trying to anchor ourselves to one emotion.”
Rewind to a time back when the Southeast London native was a child, having just performed in children’s theater. Once the stage cleared, young Kayla Griffiths found her way back on stage wielding a microphone and singing Mariah Carey’s “Hero” while she gave an offstage pianist terse musical instruction. “I was seven,” Kayla says with a smile, “and I had the most horrendous voice.” That didn’t last for very long. By 13, Kayla’s true vocal power was just starting to show, as the teen raised on Prince, Sade, and Kate Bush would write songs and poetry in her room, crafting makeshift demos of loose vocals she’d record.
A year later she joined London’s famed BRIT School, sharing classrooms with the likes of Amy Winehouse, Adele, and Jessie J, as the influx of BRIT School talent was just beginning. “I had the best time,” Kayla says of the famed institution. “It wasn’t too structured for me; I needed that structure. It was an environment I thrived in.” That experience ultimately prepared her for what was to come.
“The way into the industry was either to join a girl band or start doing music I didn’t want to do,” Kayla says of her formative industry years. Being of mixed heritage (her Mom is English and Irish & her Dad is Jamaican and South American Indian), her aesthetic also played into the majors’ perception of her sound. They listened with their eyes. “People looked at me and automatically expected me to be an R&B singer,” she says.
Adam Wake brought Kayla to the Spotlight 87 Entertainment producer songwriting team of Brian Vibberts and Alex Houton, who helped guide her. Vibberts has won five Grammy Awards and has worked with Michael Jackson and Mariah Carey, and Houton has developed artists for several major labels. Wake, Houton, and Vibberts formed Metro 3 Entertainment and signed Kayla to their new record label as their first artist.
The result is #ThisIsKaylaMusic, a five-track introduction to whom Kayla really is. Other tracks like “No Smoke Without Fire” and “How An End Starts” signify the end of a relationship, with the former highlighting the awkward phase before the end and the latter marking the point of love’s downfall. “It goes from the simmer to the boil,” Kayla expresses. “The Angel Within” is full of intuition, as Kayla’s sharp songwriting shines through, detailing as she says, “that internal struggle we have with making the best decisions for ourselves.” However, the track “Mannequin” makes the boldest statement and is perhaps a culmination of the situations Kayla has experienced thus far as an artist. The song uses a mannequin as the archetypal result of societal conformity. “We nip, we tuck, we pluck, we suck and try to reach that ideal and we don’t focus on what’s important. ‘Mannequin’ is my middle finger to society.”
#ThisIsKaylaMusic will be our first real taste of what Kayla has to offer. From childhood dreams to grown woman realities, Kayla is geared to take us on a ride. “I’m not a child anymore,” she states. “I’m not a girl. I’m a woman who knows who she is —with a story to tell.”