Lyla D’Souza songwriter and lead singer with Kill For Eden chats with Kevin Cooper about her musical influences, her admiration for Jimmy Barnes, her journey from Sydney to England and their latest album Petty Crimes
Lyla D’Souza is the lead singer with Kill For Eden who formed the band with guitarist Dave Garfield Bown, bassist Julian Palmer and drummer Wally Miroshnikov.
The band have released two EP’s and a self titled album in 2013 before some members took time out to start a family. Whilst continuing to tour and record, in 2016 they went back into the studio to begin work on their second album, Petty Crimes.
They have appeared on several stages including the legendary Hard Rock Cafe, Cockermouth Rock Festival, Camden Rocks and more.
Whilst getting ready to release their second album, Lyla took some time out to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what she had to say.
Hi Lyla, good morning how are you today?
Hi Kevin, I’m very well thanks how are you?
I’m feeling great thank you and let me just thank you for taking the time to speak to me today.
That’s no problem, no worries at all. Thanks for having me.
And just how is life treating you?
Life is good, in fact life is always good. However, I have a three year old who had a bad night last night with an awful cough so I am a little sleep deprived but then again, there is nothing unusual in that (laughter).
Before we move on I have to ask you, Sydney to London how did that move come about?
(Laughter) well just to confuse matters further, I was actually born and bought up in Adelaide. Then I moved over to Sydney and from there I finally found myself here in the UK (laughter). I have now been here in the UK for the past fifteen years although it feels like forever (laughter).
You obviously like it here in the UK despite the weather (laughter).
Yes I do and yes the only thing that really lets the place down is the weather (laughter). The UK is a good place and particularly a good place for musicians. It really does open up a lot of opportunities and it is the only place that I have ever been able to make a living from being a singer songwriter. So from my point of view it is a great place to be.
I have been playing your latest single, Woke Up Alone for a few weeks now and I have to say that I think that it is a great piece of work. Are you as a band pleased with just how well it has been received?
Yes we are; it has had some really good reviews in quite a few of the music publications and magazines. We have also received some very positive feedback and that is always nice. It’s been out for about a month now and yes I have to say that it was very well received. Our demographic is more male orientated than female but I did get a lot of feedback from female fans telling me that they could really relate to the song (laughter). I suppose that is because the song is girly and angst’y (laughter).
So tell me about the video for Woke Up Alone?
(Laughter) well, what would you like to know (laughter). Our record producer helped us out with the video for Woke Up Alone. He wanted to make sure that we saved some of our budget for other things. He said that we should shoot the video in his daughter’s bedroom so as you will have seen it is just me writhing around in our record producer’s daughter’s bedroom (laughter). It was a little unusual but it worked (laughter).
The album Petty Crimes has a release date of Friday 21st April. Are you looking forward to getting it out there?
Yes we are, we really can’t wait to get the new music out there. We have recently had some hard copies of the album made and it will also be available on all of the various outlets such as iTunes. That is all coming up very shortly now. I personally don’t know how all of that is happening; the last twelve months seem to have simply flown by (laughter). We actually finished the writing for the album around this time last year and fortunately for us we were able then to get straight into the recording studio and laid all of the tracks down. There were a few songs that didn’t quite cut the mustard so I would say that the whole process has taken us around eighteen months or so getting it all ready and done and dusted, which I think is pretty good to be fair.
Around eighteen months ago now Dave (Garfield Bown) who writes all of the music, sent me over a couple of dozen tracks that he had written and I just sat listening to them picking out the ones that I quite liked. It was so easy for me to write the lyrics for Dave’s songs and often I would find myself in my music room at three o’clock in the morning putting lyrics onto Dave’s wonderful melodies. In fact the single Woke Up Alone was actually written at three o’clock one morning (laughter). If something really grabs you musically then that really does make a difference to your writing. That is how Dave and I usually work.
What can you tell me about the album?
Well, whilst the album is obviously all rock and roll, I would have to say that it is quite a mixed bag. We have included a couple of heavier numbers this time together with the odd ballad or two. There is a song on the album which I wrote and have recorded it as a duet with Doogie White, who you may know as being the lead vocalist for Michael Schenker. Doogie, you might be aware has also worked with Rainbow and Yngwie Malmsteen. Doogie is most definitely an international class act isn’t he (laughter). It is always a great pleasure for me to stand next to Doogie and belt out a few tunes with him.
There is a bit of everything on the album; songs about love and hate, the world we live in today, and we are really hoping that there is something on there for everyone. I think that we have grown up on this record and hopefully the listeners will hear that both in the writing and also the playing. I have certainly matured since the last album as I have now started a family which has certainly made me start to look at the world slightly differently which means that I will most probably start writing songs differently as well. I am really happy with the record; it’s not quite as obvious as previous records and there are a few retrospective moments on there too.
Would you agree with your fans that it is your best work to date?
I don’t know, that is a really hard question for me to answer (laughter). There are a few songs on this album for example that I think are quite good; Woke Up Alone is probably my favourite track on the album. I really do like the music that was given to me, and musically I think that is one of our stronger songs.
Once the album was finished could you walk away from it and leave it alone or are you a meddler?
(Laughter) I think that we all meddled with it at some stage and to be honest with you I don’t actually think that we are one hundred percent happy with the album to this day (laughter). However, I totally accept that you have to get yourself to a point where you say “this is it; we have got to get this out there now” (laughter). Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t just me that was meddling (laughter). It is rumoured that Dave was heard many times saying “I think that I just need to redo those guitars again” (laughter). It took us almost nine months to finally agree which tracks were actually going to make it onto the album. I have to tell you that I did all of my vocals in about two weeks during June last year and we have spent the rest of the time mastering and mixing the album together with a hell of a lot of meddling (laughter).
The album has finally come to fruition which is nice. Hopefully, it will get heard by the masses and we will just keep on doing what we want to do. I personally don’t want to follow trends because you might follow something that is already out there but by the time that you get your record out it is not current anymore. You really do need to focus upon doing something that is natural for you, something that sits best with you, which is rock for me, which stems from the influences that I had whilst growing up in Australia.
On that point just who has musically influenced you?
When I was growing up in Australia I would never listen to any of the pop bands of the day so for me it was a waste of time trying to become a pop artist, as that never really appealed to me. I would always find myself listening to rock music and alternative bands such as Nirvana.
Whenever I think of rock music and Australia I am always drawn to a certain Mr Jimmy Barnes. What a voice.
I have to agree with you there, I love hearing Jimmy Barnes sing. He always manages to make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up whenever I hear him. He is most definitely on my bucket list, if I could ever sing with someone then Jimmy Barnes has to be right up there (laughter). I grew up with all of that, Cold Chisel, Midnight Oil and all of that. The first time that I heard Jimmy Barnes sing I just thought ‘god that man can sing’ (laughter). He is most definitely the Bruce Springsteen of Australia. He really is an amazing song writer with such an amazing voice too. His voice hasn’t mellowed with age, that’s for sure.
I have a friend who is currently working with Jimmy’s brother and I keep saying to them “come on you have got to get this sorted for me” (laughter). If only they could get me singing with Jimmy, then I could die happy.
Now you are settled here in the UK you will just have to wait and see which pigeon hole the BBC kindly put you into (laughter).
(Laughter) why do they do that, put you into different classes and pigeon hole every new band that comes along. They will probably just call us alternative rock, grunge or something like that (laughter). I have some very good friends who are in the same situation as we are and they do a lot of singer songwriter type of stuff, a little like Ed Sheeran which makes them more sellable than most and the BBC absolutely love them. However, I fear that we may well be a little too loud for the BBC but you never know (laughter).
Do you have any live dates in mind?
Yes we do and we are actually at this moment trying to put together a mini tour visiting places like Liverpool, Manchester and maybe even Hull. I recently visited Hull and let me tell you there is quite a scene happening up there so why not (laughter).
Was it always going to be a career in music for you?
Absolutely not (laughter). After I left university I started work as a public relations consultant for a very large PR firm in Australia. It was my ambition to get a job in advertising and marketing and I thought working for a PR company would be the best way for me to get my foot into the door. A friend then took me to see U2 in Sydney and I was absolutely blown away and I immediately thought that was what I wanted to do. However, I thought that it was all pie in the sky and simply couldn’t see myself being Bono (laughter). I had always liked singing and the day after the concert I saw an advert for a singer in a girl group so I went along and got the position (laughter).
It was great fun and I am still friends with the rest of the girls to this day. From there I joined a local function band out there in Sydney and it was at that point that I actually started to believe that I could do it. I then came over to the UK on a working holiday and actually started getting work as a singer. I thought that it was crazy as I had never thought of singing as being any more than a hobby. So I packed up my job in Sydney, got my things together and moved to the UK. I have now been doing it professionally full time for the past ten years now without having to supplement my income with other work.
I have done it all, function work, singing at weddings, session work, all of that together with singing with the original band as well. Unfortunately, I’m not sure that I would have been able to do that back home in Australia. Ideally I would have been sitting on a beach, writing my songs and making millions but alas it didn’t quite happen (laughter).
You formed the band back in 2011, looking back are you now in a position where you would have hoped to have been?
(Laughter) what can I say, to be fair I am female, so I am always wanting more (laughter). Well I decided that I wanted to start a family and that was something that was really important to me, I simply couldn’t put that on hold much longer. So the career in music stopped for a while whilst I was on maternity leave so that kind of stopped things for a bit. Maybe if I hadn’t had a child we could have been a little further down the road but all in all we are quite happy with where we are at now.
I know that you have mentioned a few names already but who would you say has musically inspired you along the way?
(Laughter) well, the problem is that we don’t have enough time for me to tell you everyone who has inspired me. However, vocally I would have to mention Skin from Skunk Anansie and Ann Wilson from Heart. I have always wanted to be able to deliver those big vocals (laughter). Whilst I was growing up I would always be listening to U2, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden all those types of bands. Nowadays I love Myles Kennedy. I have tried to sing some of his songs and have had to give up; people simply don’t realise just how high he goes (laughter). I know that it’s a bit of a mixed bag but those are the people who have influenced me along the way.
What was the first record that you bought?
That’s easy it was an album and it was Achtung Baby by U2.
Who did you first see performing live in concert?
Let me think about that one; the first real rock concert that I went to was to see U2 in Boundary Park over in Australia. It was on their Love Comes To Town and B.B. King was touring with them. That was a pretty awesome experience. I would have been around twelve years old at the time.
What was the last song or piece of music to make you cry?
To be honest I am not a very teary person (laughter). This is going to be really embarrassing but it was actually watching the movie Trolls with my little one (laughter). I had tears in my eyes when True Colours by Cindi Lauper came on the movie. That’s me being honest with you and giving you an honest answer (laughter).
On that note Lyla let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me. It’s been great and bye for now.
Thanks for your time Kevin. It’s been a real pleasure and I hope to see you soon somewhere in the UK. You take care and bye for now.