About the artist
Layla Benitez may have been in DJ booths since she was barely old enough to walk, but her DJing and production reveal an artist who continues to evolve and grow with every gig and every experience. Her August 2021 Boiler Room set showcases a 80s synth-influenced sound she describes as ‘indie-dance meets dark disco’, a flickering neon bridge between her New York roots and Miami home. Meanwhile, her long hours spent in the studio reveal a producer working within an organic house sound and a laid-back, soulful groove that, somehow, fits within the same sonic aesthetic. It’s not an accident. Layla has honed her understanding of both DJing and production weekly on the very front line, as a resident at the legendary Space Miami.
She started DJing in her early teens, but her first exposure to club culture came as a small child, accompanying her father, NY house pioneer John ‘Jellybean’ Benitez to his gigs. ‘I have memories of being in there from when I was five years old. I have no idea how it was all allowed!”.
When she was old enough to head out on her own, she was drawn to the techno of DJs like Dubfire, Richie Hawtin and Paco Osuna, exploring Brooklyn’s burgeoning warehouse party scene and becoming a regular at Output.
The next pivotal moment came in 2019. Invited, after a chance meet in Ibiza, to play at the Suma Han club in Istanbul, after extending her trip to get to know the people and the scene, she secured a residency for eight months at Sommer Klein in Alacati – with just a week to return to New York and pack. While an experienced traveller, with the serene-yet-outgoing nature that comes with months spent as far afield as India, this was a big step.
It was the right decision. The residency and sets across Europe – underground parties in Mykonos, London and Ibiza, Tel Aviv and Watergate – built her a reputation as a DJ. But it was the move to Miami that would help Layla truly define her sound – and continue to hone her skills as an artist and producer. There, she began her time as a Space resident, opening for the biggest DJs on the planet. It opened her eyes, and her ears…
“It’s a little bit of a challenge but I do the homework. I’ll sit there for hours and figure out what I can do to stay within the range without compromising my taste. I can open for any style of artist at this point and match their energy, within my own style”. Broadening her musical palette has had consequences for the style of music she plays too, evolving her trademark dark disco sound.
And while she first started producing, like so many artists, during lockdown – initially focusing on music for listening, naturally the connection she’s formed with dancefloors at Space and across the world has started to inform her productions. “There are so many different sounds and percussion that can define a genre and DJing helps you understand that. Also, what makes up a song: just from listening and playing I think you really learn what will make people excited in those moments when the crowd blows up at a drop.”
“Keep producing, keep playing and just see what happens. I wanna play all over the world and in front of as many people as possible.”
It’s what she wants to do. Watch her just go do it.
14th August 2023 at Ta' Qali National Park