We sat down with Layne Putnam of LAYNE to discuss her unique, dark sound, her new EP and the fact she’s been writing music practically since she was a little girl. We discuss her affinity towards architecture and how it relates to a change in writing music. Check out what she has to say about the iconic, influential albums that shaped her from bands such as Death Cab for Cutie, Blink 182 and more.
If you haven’t already heard about LAYNE, you’re truly missing out.
Last month, we posted about the debut of her latest single “Good,” while introducing her music which combines the best of popular artists such as The 1975, PVRIS, Paramore and more. LAYNE’s unique, dark sound sets them apart from the rest as they combine sounds for something that can only be described as emo-driven synth-pop. It is a class shared by few and triple-threat lead singer/songwriter/guitarist Layne Putnam definitely knows what she’s doing. Maybe it’s the fact she’s been writing music since she was still a pre-teen and is now motivated to learning to hone in on her sound. But we think it’s due to her take on how powerful emotions can be.
You can watch/listen to her music (video) for “Good” and check out of exclusive interview below.
Let’s start by addressing your sound. It is often described as dark or moody — my personal favorite was the description “darkness with a touch of sweet” — do you think that’s a pretty accurate description?
LP: Yeah! I mean, I don’t necessarily try and do anything; a lot of my music tends to come out ‘dark’ because of the synths and chords I’m sonically attracted to. I grew up listening to a lot of indie and emo music, stuff like that. So, I was naturally more attracted to darker chords, weird synths that already put you in that setting. I don’t know if I try to intentionally be ‘dark’ but I tend to, it is more nature for me to do that.
Your music is constantly compared to the likes of Paramore, the 1975…even a touch of Taylor Swift — how does it feel to have people saying ‘if you’re a fan of these huge artists, you’re going to love Layne.’
LP: It’s awesome! I feel like people tend to need to feel comfortable, like they need a point of reference sometimes. It’s very flattering, I’m definitely not offended to be compared to these amazing artists. It’s awesome, but I don’t think I was like ‘yeah! that’s what I was going for! Link me directly to these artists!’ Although, if people need that to have a point of reference, that’s awesome.
I definitely do feel like the internet is driven that way. People need that plug for new sounds, to give new artists a chance they want to know what the related sounds are; your music definitely has it’s own unique sound but there are hints I think that are comparable to the 1975, Paramore, Tegan And Sara, etc.
LP: And that’s exactly what I listen to! I love all of those artists.
You released your first album ‘Better Than Me’ when you were just fifteen… how old were you when you began writing music? Was this always the path you wanted to pursue in life?
LP: I actually did a record before that as well, when I was about thirteen. I have always been writing music. It wasn’t like one day I just decided — as cheesy as it sounds, music is my identity. You know, music is very much a part of who I have been my entire life. I have been making music since I was super little. I just always knew, I never had to decide because it was just like: this is what I do.
A lot of your early inspiration gets credited to where you grew up in South Dakota; since moving to Los Angeles, you’ve said before that LA has become your muse. do you feel this relocation has changed your style? Has it affected it at all?
LP: I’ve been in L.A now for three years so, other than me taking the time to hone in on my sound, I’m not sure. Obviously, my environment has affected me lyrically or maybe musically because I am around so much diversity with music. I’m sure it has. The ideal environment I go to musically is not L.A. — even when I’m here, I always try to go somewhere else. I am very interested in architecture, I think music and architecture and climate and environments are all very similar. It’s about putting yourself in a place with different materials. Music is a medium you have toll over all those materials and how they make you feel. So, I definitely think at least lyrically Los Angeles has changed me.
I saw you were shooting for your EP, The Black Hills to be put out in early June — any update on the release?
LP: I wish I did. We’re working on figuring out the best way to serve the EP the best, but we don’t have a date just yet.
And that’s okay! I just know from reading your YouTube comments and feedback, your fans are eager for new music beyond the two songs you have available to stream on Soundcloud.
LP: I’m excited! I’m really excited because a part of me… I sit with these songs for like a year and listen to them all day. I’ve had music ready for a long time, so now we’re just getting the rest of things that need to be in a row in that row. Hopefully we’ll get the EP out very soon.
I’ve been lucky enough to give your EP a listen and I noticed a lot of your songs have a kind of gloomy sound paired with obvious hopefulness with your lyrics, almost like despite being down, you’re not out. There’s an obvious fight, was this intentional? From any personal experiences?
LP: Yes! I’m really stoked you noticed that — I think it comes back really to who I am as a person and who I am. I don’t necessary mean to do that. But, that’s my personality to a T. I am a very emotional and sad person, I’ve seen a lot of things. But what I’ve always done is when I’m sad or feel like something is hurting me, I’m very like: “I’m gonna fight back.” That’s my personality. I always end up, even when I’m sad about a situation, I always end up thinking: “Alright, fuck this, I’m going to fight back.” It definitely shreds through to my music. I want people to feel that way, too. It’s almost selfish in a sense that I write like that. I write to reassure myself I can do it, but I have been told my music makes people feel confident and I think that is so cool because I am incredibly self-conscious and the fact that my music can make people feel confident is very cool.
It’s a definite theme I was picking up on with the songs on your EP. I feel like people are so used to Emo music being labeled as dark and depressing and even consider it suicidal-encouraging kind of music but it doesn’t have to be. You can have a dark sound and still have the overall vibe be confidence.
LP: I think sadness… I think emotion is powerful. I think this is why ‘sad’ chords are powerful to me. You can definitely still be sad and powerful.
I read a statement you made about the songs written for your 2015 EP, “Warrior” in which you said how it amazed you that songs can be written by someone after an intense personal experience and can change the life of someone else — do you have any songs that come to mind by other musicians which changed your life?
LP: Oh my gosh, there’s so many songs. That’s such a hard question. There’s a lot — there’s a bunch of artists I can name or songs in particular that have really affected me, but beyond that, every time I listen to a new song, I learn something. I am definitely a listener. I listen to all the parts, the music and I get so excited when I hear something and I think, ‘wow that’s so smart.’ There are artists that will always stick with me, music that has changed my life. It’s been music that I listened to back when I was thirteen and fourteen, I still listen to those records. I have learned so much from those records: any Death Cab for Cutie record, I have learned so much from Ben Gibbard, he’s an amazing songwriter. any Blink 182 album, especially Take Off Your Pants and Jacket is one of my favorite records of all time. I just listened to it again the other day and thought, ‘damn! this is such a great record!’ And any +44 or Angels and Airwaves, everything linked to Blink 182. Paramore! All of Paramore’s records. It’s the ones that really helped me figure out who I was musically, back when I was fourteen, are the records that really changed my life. Especially the ones I can still listen to and feel fourteen when I listen to. Get back that new, exciting sadness — as weird as that sounds — I can listen to them and I can feel things, really feel things and it was new and intense and those records still take me back there.
Speaking of life changing, your newest release, “Good’ is so close to reaching that one million milestone stream mark on Spotify — any plans for celebration when it hits?
LP: It’s mind-blowing but the weird thing is, with me, numbers make sense to me but it’s so hard to grasp that ‘wow, this many people have heard my single.’ I don’t necessarily have plans, I’m not sitting here waiting to celebrate when/if it hits a million, but if it does, that will be crazy. I can’t imagine. I hope it reaches one million but I am already so excited that even ten kids have listened, it’s hard to fathom how many people those numbers actually are.
With your music reaching that many people, you have a show scheduled for the end of this month in Los Angeles, but are there any plans for shows beyond the LA area any time soon?
LP: We have so much we’re waiting to hear back on. I can almost guarantee we’ll be touring in the next three or four months. Hopefully, we’ll know really soon! We’re doing the LA show and then the goal is to get out and on tour and see everyone very soon.
Special thanks to Layne Putnam for taking the time to chat.
Be sure to keep an eye out for Layne’s EP release — check out their website for all social media links and further information.