Citing Karl Marx, The Velvet Underground and Taylor Swift as just a few of his influences, Lailien is a Toronto-based songwriter and producer whose debut album is giving irony a run for its money. Genre-hopping and genre-creating – it is perhaps unsurprising that Lailien’s debut LP ENSOULAR was written in part during an intense period of experimentation with psychedelics. Listening to the LP, which will be released by the Manimal label, (War Paint, Yoko Ono, Bat For Lashes, Moby) – it sounds something like walking through a fairground where all the rides have sped up and gone flying off the tracks…
Underlying this hyperactive artifice, however, Lailien’s music reveals a mature talent for careful, poetic and intelligent song-writing. He is, after all, a University of Toronto graduate who at one point in his life was on his way to becoming a Professor of Literature. Teaming up with Grammy Award Winning co-producer Mark Zubek, the more intimate moments of the album are reminiscent of the likes of Bon Iver, while his experimental pop lyricism sounds something like the Dirty Projectors crossed with the Flaming Lips.
Lailien is a true product of the 21st century – his music is saturated with the kind of post-ironic humour that takes the world of global capitalism as its subject but leaves its listeners guessing as to what exactly he is trying to say about it. A cultural-omnivore, Lailien sites diverse influences such as Grimes, Animal Collective and James Blake, as well as popstars such as Beyoncé and Lana Del Ray, and academic influences ranging from gender theorist Judith Butler to modernist writer Virginia Woolf.
If this all seems a bit too much to take in at once, Lailien would likely say that’s the exact point of his music – except he probably wouldn’t say it, he’d sing it – in a coded, head-spinning manner.