Raised in Casablanca, Morocco, Just Leila absorbed diverse musical influences from jazz and French pop to Arabic melodies and R&B.
Later the singer sold all her possessions and followed her dreams devoting all her time to music and travelling. Just Leila describes the music she came up with during this journey as "a therapeutic outlet, exploring themes of freedom, truth-seeking, and the importance of playfulness in life". A suitcase with musical equipment accompanies Leila on all her travels.
The music inspired by the the vibrant life in such places as New York and Mexico has been gathered into the new EP "Just For Me" released on December 18.
The record opens with "bits of pieces" that pairs a rich percussion-heavy rhythm with chords played on a synth with envelope-controlled filter that you would often hear in deep house music. Brassy touches add more colours to the arrangement accompanying Leila's deep soulful vocals.
"bébe" is the meeting of two worlds. Groovy R&B provides the rhythmic backbone (again rich and layered) and light-hearted French pop brings in sunny melodies and playful vocal delivery. The song is disarmingly straightforward in its lyrics repeating the word "bébe" (French for "baby") many times. The lyrical hero wants a baby with her lover, and the repetition in the chorus lyrics helps us feel the overwhelming effect of this emotion.
"don't be alarmed" is made up of atmospheric percussion, transparent piano and vulnerable vocals that bring to mind FKA Twigs. It provides an interesting contrast after the joy and playfulness of "bébe".
"more than dna" is another song with a darker, more sombre mood. The atmosphere is created by the reverberated synth textures. The vocals here range from intimate to ethereal and almost angelic.
"ché pas" carries a strong 90s R&B influence in its groove. But the use of modern sounds and approach to mixing helps the song sound fresh. The production here is minimalistic, leaving a lot of room for the vocals to breathe.
"desert song", with its slow and steady groove and an Arabian influence in its melodies, is a composition that only a person with a traveller's heart could have written.