The Staggering Songstress
She’s not your average spoiled pop star. Layal was a hardcore policewoman before she decided to follow her long-life dream of singing for a living. Being surrounded by music and arts since she was a child, it’s only natural that she has ended up becoming a sensational Middle Eastern icon as she adamantly pursued that path as soon as she discovered her talent. We asked her how she made it, and this is what she told us..
How did you discover your passion for music and dance?
I have always been around music since I was a child, and it has been a huge part of my life, so I think my current career was entirely expected. I have practised singing since a very young age; it was a talent that I long buttressed until I mastered it and was finally capable of conveying my thoughts through music. As for dance, I do not consider myself a dancer, and if I ever do so on stage, it’s because my body just moves with the music.
Is your current career different from your field of study?
My academic studies were entirely different from what I do now, but after graduating I did study music. It’s not just the studies that were different, my career had nothing to music either; I was a cop in the Lebanese Police Department.
Out of all your albums, which is your personal favorite and why?
I cannot choose just one. I have never produced one song that I was not completely satisfied with. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that every single one of my productions is close to my heart and means a lot to me including my latest song, “Laken” (But), that has recently hit it big in the Middle East
Do you contribute in writing the lyrics to your songs? If not, what do you look for in a lyricist?
I do sometimes contribute, yes, but only with a few touches. But I usually leave it to the professionals to deal with it. Although, I must add that I have also grown a talent in writing and I plan to make use of it one of those days. I have a few writings that I like to work on in my free time. A lyricist must be a poet by nature, and I try to help out when I can.
What musical artist do you look up to? (Western and Arab)
I will try not to mention any specific names, lest I seem to appreciate some more than others. I will, however, have you know that I am inspired by many from the Arab world including Ammar El Sherei and Baligh Hamdi–God rest their souls. Internationally, I am very much drawn to French musicians, possibly because I’m a bit of a hopeless romantic.
What is your favorite song to perform live and why?
‘Mghanaj’ (spoiled) is one I truly enjoy performing. Even the audience loves it and often asks me to repeat it.
What’s your favorite place to go in the summer? (Beaches/clubs/pubs)
I enjoy way too many places to state one is my favourite, but if I had to pick, it would either be Sardinia or the Seychelles islands.
Do you prefer summer in Egypt or in Lebanon and why?
I cannot answer that! I love spending both the summer and the colder days in Egypt. And of course, I’m attached to my beautiful country as well. But I’m staying in Lebanon this summer because I plan on conducting many concerts here. I may live in Beirut, but I think Egypt is beautiful and I feel like it’s my second country.
What is the Arabic music industry missing?
It just needs a push! A push is all what it will take. I think we have plenty of potential but we just fail to employ it in a way that would fashion us towards the development we await.
How is Egyptian nightlife different from Lebanese? What do you think Cairo nightlife is missing?
I honestly wouldn’t be the right candidate to answer this properly, as I’m not too much of a nightlife person. But I think both are only different in terms of cultures. Not one of them is lacking; they’re solely different.
Are you hosting any concerts soon? What are your summer plans?
Many! All of which are only in Lebanon, unfortunately. But with how steadily my popularity seems to be growing, to which I am very thankful,I will definitely be hosting more of these in many more countries across the Middle East. As for my personal plans, not many at all. I just hope I get to relax; touring can be exhausting!
If you had to settle in one country for the rest of your life, where would that be and why?
Probably Egypt, because it has played a huge part in the way I was brought up. Most likely in Cairo, too. I cannot give too many reasons as to why that would be my choice, but that’s just how I feel towards that country.
What is one summer fragrance that you cannot do without?
Anything light and powdery. But I can probably do without any fragrance out there. I don’t care for them that much.
Who takes care of your glamorous looks?
Akl Fakih is the mastermind behind the way I dress in my professional, social, and daily life. Elie Samaan does my hair and makeup; my stylist is Serene Assaad, and my photographer is Hassan Soliman.