Makaleigh Layman Q&A– “This All Came From Just Putting Myself Out There!”
This is an interview done with Makaleigh Layman, read her story below! If you, or anyone you know, would like to be highlighted in The Zillennial Zine, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM us on Instagram!
Q: Tell us your story! Where did you begin and how did you reach the caliber you’re currently at?
A: Well, in terms of my story as a musician, it’s a relatively short one! My family has always loved music, and I have a couple of siblings who play various instruments, like the bass, the guitar, the drums and piano. Since I wanted to do everything my older siblings did, I started to mess around on my family’s piano when I was around 11 or 12, (though I’ve never been able to read sheet music) and while I liked the sound, I was never interested enough to set aside time to really learn how to play. Later in life, during the summer of 2018, I was browsing some sales that Amazon was promoting and one was for a ukulele – it was only $12! I decided on a whim to just buy it because even if I hated it, I would have only wasted $12. Once I began learning the basics, then later really got the hang of some chords and started writing some of my own stuff, I couldn’t stop. I went out about 6 months later and bought a real, nice ukulele and then, 6 months later, bought a baritone ukulele. During this time, I was also going to the music hall buildings on my campus in search of an open room with a piano so that I could teach myself some basic stuff. Four months later, I bought a piano keyboard, because again… I couldn’t stop myself. In the fall of 2020, I broke my leg in a skydiving accident and was basically bedridden for months after. During this time, I wrote A LOT of music. In March of 2020, I finally went out and bought my first guitar from a sweet old man I found on Facebook marketplace. He sold me a classical acoustic-electric Fender with a capo, an extra set of strings, a Fender strap, and a hard case all in one. It was the perfect guitar to start learning on and I picked it up really easily for some reason. I began posting TikToks more frequently and saw a lot of new followers flowing in after my first couple of viral videos. In terms of writing, I wasn’t very good at first. My lyrics felt generic and my playing felt basic. But over time, with consistent practice, it really develops. I just had to keep practicing and practicing and eventually, I had some halfway decent songs. Learning some music theory has definitely helped in a bunch of little ways… even though I still can’t read sheet music.
Q: What makes you love what you do? How long have you been making music? Would you call it your passion?
A: You know, I don’t know what made me love music, to begin with. I would love to say that I love music simply because my whole family loves music, but I loved music before I knew I loved music. My mom loves to share that I used to sing “Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas before I was even two (that could be a motherly exaggeration, though). All I know is that I have loved music and singing seriously as far back as I can remember, but it was definitely amplified by my brother, Casey. Casey is for sure my musical soulmate. I became really close with Casey in my late teens, even though we’re 8 years apart in age. He plays guitar and piano and actually helped me out a lot with my songs. My journey with music has taught me that, while some parts of musical talents may come naturally and from a pure love and passion for music, a lot of it is work. For me, a lot of it is reading the dictionary to find interesting words to use, reading proverbs from various ethnic origins to attempt to gather inspiration, watching tutorials on different picking patterns, and various other methods that have helped me as a musician. I wrote my first song all the way through in August of 2019; my brother, Casey helped me figure out the piano for it. I was too shy to post it online anywhere, but I sent a small clip of it to a group chat with a couple of my siblings. My sister immediately posted it on Facebook to boast about her siblings. I was annoyed at first, but there was so much love in the comments, and that’s when I became determined to finish that song. I finished the song and posted it to my Instagram; I was HORRIFIED, but everyone was SO kind! A month or two later, I used this song to enter into a competition for Clark Beckham’s Lightyear Tour where he was selecting a different, local opener for each city on his tour… and I won! I got to play for 20 minutes in front of about 100 people and it was a dream. That’s when I knew that this was for me. Even though I was a nervous wreck and talked a mile a minute while on stage, I knew I wanted to get better at performing and writing. I would definitely say that music is my passion. If I could do it for a career, I 1000% would in a heartbeat. It’s hard to get actually started in the music industry, though, so I’m not sure when or if that will ever be a possibility.
Q: What are some accomplishments or milestones you’ve reached lately?
A: Honestly, opening for a concert was a huge milestone for me! It was the first time I had performed live for anyone. I guess I could also say that, while followers online don’t really mean anything, it’s crazy to know that 85,000 people want to follow me and see more of my music. That is so hard to grasp because that feels like an insane number to me. I’m also really excited for what’s to come in the next few weeks or months for me, as well, since having some more attention brought to my account on TikTok. While I can’t give out details, I can say that I have had quite a few artists reaching out for collabs, some of who are my favorite artists anyway, and I also have had a couple of representatives from labels reaching out asking for demos. It’s a really exciting place to be in and I can’t wait to see what’s next.
Q: Tell us about “moving to pluto” and your other songs!!
A: I wrote about moving to Pluto based on a conversation with a friend. We were talking about someone we don’t particularly like and how I hate knowing I could run into them anywhere since they live in the same town as me. Then we were talking about moving away so I wouldn’t need to be near this person and my friend said, “What about Australia?” and I said, “that still doesn’t feel far enough.” Later I was just thinking about what would be far enough and then I got the idea to write about moving to Pluto to get away from someone you really don’t want to be around. I actually had already written the guitar previously but never wrote lyrics I liked, so I just added my lyrics for Pluto over it and it sounded so fun! A lot of my other songs are written similarly. Sometimes I write lyrics first, but a majority of the time, I write music first, then lyrics. I find that it’s easiest to fit a theme of lyrics to a melody and harder to write music for a melody that I already have; however I have done it both ways. A lot of my earlier songs were written on piano before I had a guitar, and transitioning them to guitar was tricky. The only reason I wanted to transition them was so that if I were ever to play live, I could still play any of my songs on just one instrument.
Q: Do you have any advice for someone who is starting out in the music industry?
A: Honestly, I barely feel like I’ve really jumped into the music industry! I’m still trying to learn how to record and produce my own music, and it’s proving to be a pretty difficult feat for me. I’m also still currently finishing my Bachelor’s degree in Hispanic Linguistics, but once I’m done I’ll have a lot more time to focus on music after that. I would say, if you really want to pursue music, PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE. If you have music you write that you’re proud of, just post it. Even if it doesn’t get likes right away… keep sharing your music! It’s never a bad idea to put yourself out there. It can be scary and make you nervous, but if you want to enter the music industry, you’re gonna have to step out of your comfort zone a little. For someone who’s not a complete beginner, I would recommend that you have plenty of different songs you wrote or songs you love to sing at the ready so that if an opportunity comes along, you don’t have to scramble to find something that showcases your talents. But once again, networking online can really kick things off for you. I have seen some artists go from posting on TikTok to opening for sold-out arenas on tours with artists who liked their stuff. For me, TikTok has been a huge help in pushing me in the right direction. An amazing artist, who has songs that have gone 6x Platinum in the US, reached out and messaged me on Instagram all because I had a viral TikTok they liked. I have a meeting in a couple of weeks with them and someone from their team to potentially discuss how we might collaborate in some way. This all came from just putting myself out there! Other than that advice, I would just say to make sure you really love it. If you’re just in it because you think you’re good at it, or you like music but you don’t have enough time to put into making something that you truly cherish and care about, then it will never bring the fulfillment that you want. You have to love it more than anything else because if you enter the industry, there’s a good chance that music will take up the majority of your life. So make sure it’s something you really love and that you’re creating music that you really love.
Q: What do you want our readers to know about you and your music?
A: My music isn’t perfect or produced or anything fancy, but I definitely put my heart into it. I typically spend nearly 30 hours a week just playing and making music – which is basically a part-time job. I would love my music even if nobody else liked it and sometimes, nobody else does! And that’s okay! Because more than anything, my music is for me. My music is so that I get to express the feelings and emotions that I want to express, and if other people relate, that’s wonderful. But music is my one true love, and I would love it even if I were terrible at it and made music that nobody related to. So I guess something else important, that I mentioned before, is that you have to truly love it.
Go Check Out Makaleigh Layman!