As a child of the ’90s who grew up glued to MTV before and after school, videos still warm my heart. So I love when artists like Jody Leylac give them their all in a day and age where some may let that aspect of their music fall by the wayside. Her latest for “No De De” is as colorful as a Lisa Frank starter-kit. An homage to her LGBTQ community, Jody wanted to make sure her pride was front and center and she did that and then some with a song that captures a problem almost every single woman has come to face.
Kendra: Being part of the church choir is how so many great voices have found their start. Was that something you were drawn to naturally or were you ushered into the choir by your family?
Jody Leylac: I grew up with my grandmother in Jamaica, and she was, and still is, the ultimate church-going Christian. She had my cousin and I in church three times per week, and we were involved in everything. But once the service planners found out that I could sing, I became the go-to person they’d randomly call upon. So it was more the church folks who naturally dragged me into singing in the choir with 100% approval from my grandmother.
Kendra: It’s clear that Reggae is often a male-dominated genre. How did it feel growing up and not seeing yourself represented at all times in a world you wanted to be a part of?
Jody Leylac: Music, in general, is a male-dominated industry. I never really gave it much thought about being represented when I was younger. If I liked a particular artist it was always about their creativity and never about their gender. Now I do understand the importance of representation especially being a gay artist. I want younger people to know that they’re not limited to anything because of their sexual orientation or gender, we can do it all, and we are doing it all.
Kendra: Did that encourage you to work that much harder to make a name for yourself in music?
Jody Leylac: Yes and no. Yes because the representation, even though it’s growing, is very limited for artists in the LGBTQ world. No, because I’m a workaholic and I genuinely love music. So even though gender equality is very real, I would still have put in the same amount of work regardless of gender.
Kendra: Speaking of men and the world around us. Every woman can relate to “No De De” and the overall tone of not wanting to be bothered by some random dude when out with your girl. Was this song at all inspired by the current #MeToo movement in terms of telling men to back off?
Jody Leylac: The day I wrote “No De De” I was absolutely frustrated with a particular guy who kept nagging me. After I wrote the first verse, I literally busted out laughing. Everything I wanted to say to him, but didn’t because I was being “nice,” was just flowing through my pen. A friend of mine associated it with the #MeToo movement after it was completed. In that moment I realized the message was much bigger than an impolite dismissal of unwanted attention.
Kendra: When it comes to the video, kudos. I love the vibrant styles going on throughout. Was that an homage to Jamaica?
Jody Leylac: Vibrancy is like blood to me, I can’t live without it. I love colors, mixing and matching things that clash but somehow work well together. The video represented my homage first to the LGBTQ community and my love for being outrageously bright. I do understand the association you have with it of Jamaica because it is a colorful island and the people are even more colorful. I’ve never thought of that similarity until now so thank you.
Kendra: People may not know that you aren’t only a musician but also a college grad. A grad with a 4.0. Congrats! Some artists shy away from traditional education. Why was it important for you to get your degree?
Jody Leylac: Thank you, first let me say this, I am a nerd! I love learning new things and expanding my knowledge. Plus, school was always a safe haven for me, so it was very natural for me to keep going back, who knows maybe I’ll get my Ph.D. one day.
Kendra: With 2018 almost up, what are your plans as we say hello to the new year? More music, more education, what’s going on?
Jody Leylac: 2018 has been an incredible year so far. And 2019 will bring about the release of the full This Is Forever! E.P., more videos and definitely touring alongside more creative ventures.