Hi, I’m Layzee Ella.
I’m a musician. I’m also an overthinker, constantly analysing things and forming smart or deep. I used to like reading a lot, but that’s changed because I can’t focus on anything for more than five seconds. I must have undiagnosed ADHD. I blame TikTok for reducing my attention span, but will I stop using the app? No.
Will you ever get a proper diagnosis?
I hate going to the hospital and taking drugs, so I won’t get one. I like to give my immune system a chance to fight since that’s what it’s there for. My friend has been trying to get me to get checked for a while now, but I’m just waiting it out and eating vegetables. I don’t want meds to ruin my life. That’s what I do, run away from hospitals and make music. I was in medical lab science. Then I got bored in my finals and had a panic attack, so I quit.
Wait, rewind. How? What did you tell your parents?
They didn’t bring me up. Of course, I lived in their house, but they didn’t have any time for me. I was the last, and I think they were tired of raising kids. They never really made any decision for me.
I created rules and laws for my life. And I always paid the price on my own. One time, I got into big trouble with the police, and I called my dad. He was like, “I didn’t send you there”. It’s messed up sometimes, but I live through it. When you know nobody will be there for you when you fall, you’ll be more careful with your decisions.
I guess their opinion wasn’t necessary when you went into music either?
Nope. It was just me and my best friend, Teddy. He learnt how to produce music and we made my first song together just like that. I was 14 at the time. We later got into uni together at 16. I was in medical lab science, and he was in medicine. We made covers, saved up for studio equipment, rented a room and created a studio in school.
How does a 16-year-old save up for studio equipment?
I had to start making money fast because my pocket money was ₦5k a month. If not, there was only death by starvation at the end of the light. I’ve always been smart and calculative. My dad made sure I understood math, which helped me with money. I also used to do side jobs, like getting paid by real estate agents to broadcast their hostels around school, and I was very popular in school.
What made you popular?
I was popular for being an idiot. Many people liked talking to me because I never took anything too serious. I never had enemies, and I was small and fine, so there was no reason to hate me. I was already loved before I dropped my first cover, so my second cover went viral. It was a cover of Burna Boy’s On the Low in 2018.
When did you start making your own music, and how was it received?
My first song was Sober. I dropped it in January 2020. Back then, I didn’t even have money for the promo, but it did really well. I’d been rapping on my IG for a while, so nobody knew I could sing when I dropped it. People were shocked by my voice. I got a lot of love and support.
How did you come up with your name?
It was a nickname from secondary school. We had five Ellas in my class. There was tomboy Ella, tall Ella, short Ella, and I was the one who created a space in the roof to hide and avoid work. But I wasn’t lazy. I just didn’t like physical work.
How did you get signed?
I got picked by Kimani, the CEO of my company, and it just happened. She was obsessed with my song, Body On Me. Before we started any business talk or whatever, she really just wanted to tell me how much she loved my music. It felt so good.
When I made it, I didn’t like it that much. It was the last song I made on When the Lights Go Off. I made it without a beat, inspired by Burna Boy. Then I gave it to Teddy, and his beat made it so sick. It worked well because Teddy and I are usually in the same headspace. But now, he’s focused on finishing school.
Which of your songs do you actually like?
Deep Into You from my last project, Chemical and Put It On Me. I prefer my music when I’m going extra hard. So if it sounds like anything I might’ve heard before, I don’t feel special listening to it.
Does the company make you create certain types of songs?
Because of the way I was brought up, I don’t handle being controlled well. So it helps that my CEO and I trust each other’s work. We’re always sharing ideas, and we take each other seriously. But sometimes, when they play a beat, you never really know what you’re creating until it’s done and you listen to it again.
I’m still amused a 14-year-old woke up one day and said, “Yeah, let’s do music”. At 14, I was sleeping during night prep
I was in the choir as a child. I’d been into music since I was four or five. My brother would make me try to hit some notes and sing Beyonce’s songs. That boy was 13 to my five, but if I sang the wrong note, he’d slap me. So I picked up rapping instead because I knew he couldn’t rap.
Who were your rap influences?
There was DeJ Loaf, Eminem, Baby Keem and Young Thug. I loved Young Thug. His flows are fire. He’s funny, and I imagine him on Afrobeats sometimes. Outside rap, there’s Koffee, Harry Styles recently and Post Malone.
How about Nigerians? Anyone you want to work with?
Fireboy. We’ve collaborated before, and that was one of my favourite sessions ever. I want a song with Rema. I’m curious how we would sound, but it’s not really my priority to work with anyone. I don’t give a fuck about anything but the listeners and numbers because, obviously, that’s how you know people care about your craft.
It must feel good to have people support your music
Of course I does. I created something, so I like knowing it touched people. I don’t even care if I get awarded for it. I love it when I get texts from my listeners telling me they love my music or they’re thinking of me. I know how I feel when I listen to an artist I love; it’s almost like I’m connected to the artist. So for somebody to fall in love with whatever I created in the past; it always feels so fucking good.
What’s your creative process?
It changes all the time. I’ve been going through this creative block for the past three months. It’s gone now, and I know I’ve become a new person, but I’m still too lazy to record.
I wrote my first song, Sober, without a beat. I was in love then, so the person was giving me rhythm. For the second one, I locked myself up for about a month or two, creating with Teddy. I heard the inspiration for the beat of Chemical by mistake and wrote it in 20 minutes. It was like God gave it to me.
God? Chemical that sounds like sexual tension itself? What were you going through?
That’s crazy because I was in my third month of celibacy when I wrote Chemical. I wanted to put all my pent-up sexual passion in a song. I’m a very sexual person, so if I’m not having sex, the sexual energy has to go somewhere else. If you listen to Put It On Me, you’d hear the sexual tension too.
Interesting. Has anyone ever told you they added Chemical to their sex playlist?
I see titles like “Spread them Cheeks”, “Mine” and “Contraband” on my Spotify for Artists. Just looking through now, I can see its on about 44 playlist on Spotify alone. It’s funny because we were trying to push Hypnotise, but Chemical just sold on its own. My friend, Steph, kept hyping it then people started making videos, and that gave me the ginger to promote it.
Are you currently making money from music?
Well, I’m signed, so I get paid for every project I drop. It’s in thousands of dollars, that’s all I can say.
But what’s the least you’ve made since you started?
I only made about $300 – 400 from Sober. You get paid a certain amount per stream, and Sober did about 100k streams.
How about performing? Do you make any money from it?
I almost never perform. I’ve performed on stage thrice. I don’t really rate it because they’ve not started paying me big money for it yet.
What’s your favourite song to perform?
Right now, Chemical, but before, it was Somebody. They both have a bounce that keeps your waist moving.
Has anyone ever thrown something at you while you were performing?
Jesus, no. I would just cry.
I mean things like their shirts
No, not yet. But I’m performing at Blaqbonez’s show today, so let’s see if someone throws their bra at me when I perform Chemical.
Do you think you’re at the peak of your career?
At all. Sometimes, when you create and don’t get the energy you want, it kills your ginger. But there’s more to come. I’m already thinking of my follow up so people know I’m not a one-hit wonder. It’s all about the rollout. I’m creating content around this song while working on the next because the next song is done already. It’s a different vibe but still as sexy as Chemical. I almost never make the same type of song twice except one is an upgraded version of the other.
And your plan for the coming years?
I don’t know. I’ll let God and the world decide because you can make plans but you can never tell what the results would be. There are plans for some features and joint projects with big producers, but the results of those are all in the hands of God.