“I really never lost my way from music,” said Dina Layzis when asked if having to relocate to the US after the events of Chernobyl uprooted her and her classical musician parents, “Regardless of what was ever happening in my life it was the one constant. Even when I was little amidst all the hard times with the move my parents always shared their love for music with me. They also taught me so much of what I know today as a musician.”
With her parents’ constant support, her talent, and her all-around love of music, Dina found her way to Berklee College of Music. There she wanted to “cement the skills” she’d already had, noting, “My emphasis in music is always on emotion and expression but that requires technique and solid musical foundation.”
Today, Dina Layzis comes through with a vocal prowess that has often garnered her comparisons to some of the biggest pipes in history. We started our chat with her American influences and progressed to her latest single, “Our Love,” and more!
Kendra: Did you grow up in Ukraine with a lot of American music influences, or did you not get engulfed in the likes of American artists until your family settled down in the US? Because that was around the late ‘80s when Whitney was HUGE, and then came Mariah and Celine. All powerhouses when it comes to ballads. A type of song you’re very comfortable singing. Were these artists you grew up trying to emulate in your bedroom?
Dina Layzis: I came to the US when I was three. So prior to that my memories involve stuffed animals, dolls, and cartoons. My influences are very spread throughout the world. I have been engulfed by everything from classical music, French music, Russian music, Italian music, American music, folk, Ballads, Rock, EDM and the list can go on and on. If there is emotion, creativity, and beauty in music – I have always found things to appreciate in it. Each style and culture’s music that has been a part of my life left its own fingerprint on the artist I am today.
I did grow up with those powerhouse vocalists playing in my bedroom though – over and over. I had a karaoke machine and I would sing those songs thousands of times. They fascinated me with their skills and I had such high respect for what they did.
Kendra: You often get compared to Celine. Does that drive you to always continue to push yourself vocally?
Dina Layzis: Dion is a phenomenal singer who inspired me a great deal growing up. Artists often struggle to find “their voice.” I remember going through a similar period when I was younger. You hear something that you think is brilliant – and your initial reaction is to emulate it. At a point in time – I had to learn what “my” voice was and then I strived to make it the best it could be. Of course, I take it as a huge compliment being compared to someone I look at as one of the best, but most of all it pushes me to continually do what I do at the highest level possible.
Kendra: Speaking of, you are pushing out singles left and right. “Our Love” is your fourth this year. Are there plans for an EP, LP?
Dina Layzis: I may combine a few later into an EP. For now, I want each song to have its own moment in time. They all are exactly that for me – moments in time of my life. I have an idea brewing of how to tie them together though.
Kendra: Back to “Our Love.” You said it’s about the lessons learned when one loves someone and the feelings are far from mutual. If these lessons were put into a textbook, how many pages do you think that book would be?
Dina Layzis: Wow, I immediately began to picture this whole room just filling up with books. I think we would need several…at least, but really – it is such a difficult topic to explain and understand. I think words would never ever be enough to fully communicate the lessons.
Unfortunately and fortunately they are some things that have to be felt and lived. There are so many realizations about life, others, and yourself that you take away from a situation like that. You understand most of all that each one of us has their own story and that is perfectly ok. I have to say that I don’t look back at any of those moments with any kind of regret. In the most difficult times, you realize – that they are just as needed as the good times.
Kendra: Also, kudos on the music video for this song. I think when YouTube started to be the norm for videos, some artists just forgot about the art of them. Not you! Are there any music videos you loved that you have in the back of your mind when it comes time to create your own that you pull inspiration from?
Dina Layzis: Thank you! The videos were a great team effort. I had the pleasure to work with a wonderful team that included director Maria Skakun and my manager, Svetlana Hachiyan. We really wanted to create something that could touch others.
I was not heavily influenced by particular videos of the past, but ones that always interested me always had a story – not just an amazing set and visuals. I try to bring a story and emotion into all I do relating to music. I do think times have changed and in some ways, the authenticity created with a simple video is something that appeals to people too. We are so technology-based that when we see or feel moments that are more real and unscripted – we connect to them. I think there is a place for both in the world today, but I do hope that people never store craving and creating art.
Kendra: Lastly, what are your plans as we start to prepare for the fall and winter months?
Dina Layzis: I have a few more singles that I plan to release this year and also am very heavily involved in writing right now. I recently connected with an amazing pianist/composer Artem Tenkeli and we are working on a lot of new material together. Looking forward to sharing it with the world!