There’s not a true recipe for creative brilliance. Sometimes it’s born in madness when an artist is at his absolute lowest point. Sometimes it’s born out of a life that’s nothing but struggle; living in poverty and doing anything to get out or get by. The creativity of Boston artist Layto has its own recipe. He’s a normal guy from a normal middle-class family born with an affinity for making music. He’s not a classically trained pianist. He didn’t go to college to learn the ins and outs of crafting songs. He roofed houses. He vacuumed cars. He worked dozens of other awful jobs until he figured out that shit just wasn’t for him. Alternative Addiction recently sat down to chat with Layto about his influences, his single “Little Poor Me”, and his new release, The Low Boy EP.
“I didn’t formally get into music, in terms of making my own stuff, until probably about 4 years ago,” began the Boston hip hop artist. “I was working menial and laborious jobs and I wasn’t satisfied with what I was doing in life. Music was always my escape. One day, I just decided to make a go at it. I made a track and I cut my teeth and learned how to produce. It just kind of took off. I honestly never thought it would turn into a career until it just kind of happened. I’ve always had an affinity for music, but where I come from, it wasn’t a viable option for me to get into it.”
Layto didn’t see music as a viable career option throughout most of his life, but that didn’t mean his life was void of music. The opposite holds true. Music has always been a huge part of his life, whether that was listening to music with his parents or listening to hip hop classics.
“I have a unique amalgamation of influences. I grew up on funk. My mom played the drums and she loved Stevie Wonder. I got into Motown at an early age. My father is really into crooning; stuff like Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. When I got older, I got into hip hop. I got into Tupac, Biggie, NWA, Nas is a huge one for me. I love Cube and Wu-Tang Clan too. I don’t really know how to quantify the sound that I’m into. My music shows that I have a massive blend of sounds that I’ve been influenced by.”
Influences aside, Layto still had to develop his own lyrical style for when he raps, his own lyrical style when he sings, and his own writing style. Layto said that it wasn’t something he consciously did. It just kind of happened.
“It’s just something that you find. If you have an affinity for something and it’s something that feels seamless to you, it’s something that you’ll spend more time on. It’s something I’ve always been interested in. I think it might be a product of all the years I spent listening. I was a student in a way, absorbing a lot of different artists. For me, I’ve never had an issue with finding my style. I love writing too. I’ll usually create a soundscape and come up with a melody and all the instrumentals first and then I’ll shoehorn lyrics to fit the sound. It’s never been painstaking for me, and if it is, I just set it aside.”
A great example of Layto’s writing style is how he came up with “Little Poor Me”, we asked Layto if he remembered how the song started.
“It was like a year and a half ago. I was fiddling around on the piano and I was just playing a couple of notes and I came up with the main piano part of that song. I thought it had a dark/trip-hop poppy feel to it. Then, I started thinking about the big percussion and the heavy bass line – and it evolved from there. It was the perfect storm. I just went through a breakup and I was in a dark place. Whatever you’re feeling at the time will usually reflect in your music,” added the genre-spanning artist.
Layto talked further about the inspiration behind his new EP release, The Low Boy EP.
“The EP runs the gamut of emotions. It’s like an origin story for me. I wanted people to get to know a little bit about my backstory. Each song has a different sentiment and touches on a different emotion that I was feeling at the time when I wrote it. The style of the song usually fits what I was feeling at the time too. I talk about relationships, self-empowerment, depression. For me, I write about what I know, that’s what feels good for me.”
Layto is a true artist. He likes to have a hand in coming up with everything that coincides with the music he puts out including videos. If you haven’t gotten a chance to check out the video for “Little Poor Me” yet, it’s worth watching. Layto talked about making that video.
“I came up with the treatment. I like to be heavily involved in it, it’s a reflection of my songs. I don’t want to delegate my creative stuff. I worked with Bobby Hanaford. He and I molded a script to fit the song. We shot that at Jackson Browne’s childhood home. That gave it a cool feel to it. I wanted to touch on the deadly sins. The video has this Spanish Villa meets Snow White type of vibe going on.”
Now that Layto’s debut EP is out now and it’s something he’s immensely proud of. It’s been years in the making and he’s made something that he can stand behind. Next up, he’ll be releasing a video for the title track of the EP, “The Low Boy” on 2/20/2019.
“That’s the true origin song. It illustrates all those menial jobs I’ve worked. It shows me in Boston and working in those specific jobs. People will get a sense of where I come from and who I am. I appreciate those jobs now in hindsight.”- aa