Q&A with Cole and Logan Layman (In Layman Terms) - They are young, passionate, and all about the blues

"Blues music not only gives you knowledge about the horrendous experiences that occurred back then, but also teaches you how to sing soulfully."

In Layman Terms: Strong Roots & Blossoms

Cole and Logan Layman (In Layman Terms) have grown up making music together. They are both multi-instrumentalists and write original music. They are young, passionate, and all about the blues. Their unique and diverse sound ranges from gritty, foot-stomping acoustic work, to an electrified big-band sound. They perform nationally as a duo, as a trio with their mother on drums and washboard, or as a full band which includes keys, a horn section, and a professional drummer who happens to be their producer and mentor. No matter how they present their music, the core is rooted in the blues, and it is the undeniable connection these siblings have that shines through and makes them special. Cole and Logan are both proud inductees into The Brotherhood of the Guitar, an elite group of young guitarists from all over the world.

Their music has been played on radio stations all over the USA and internationally. Cole and Logan grew up involved in Kid's Care Clubs and are affiliated with Generation On, a global youth service movement igniting the power of all youth to make their mark on the world. Cole was an inaugural Youth Ambassador for the organization in 2010 and was honored at Radio City Music Hall in New York City for his efforts in using his gifts (music), to leave his mark. The Layman siblings continue to write music about real life issues they are passionate about, and hope to share their music to inspire and connect with others. They are involved in their family business, called Rhythm Play - In Layman Terms where they assist their mother when time allows, and bring the power of rhythm to the community through interactive music and exciting rhythm games and sing-alongs. Debut album “​Tangled” released on April 2016. In 2015 they met Hamed Barbarji, and this would be the beginning of an amazing friendship and a passionate collaboration. Nick Davidson joined the band in 2017 to complete this solid outfit. The band members are multi-instrumentalists and write original music. The new album by In Layman Terms, “Strong Roots,” is scheduled for release on November 7. As the full of grace suspended step of the stork, Cole & Logan Layman (In Layman Terms) give a sound as gritty, traditional with modern twists - this music comes straight from their souls! A melting point of blues, jazz, funk, R&B with feeling coming from all over decades. The fresh beauty of faces, mind and soul reflected in music.

Interview by Michael Limnios

What do you learn about yourself from the blues music and culture?

Cole: I have learned from blues music and culture that I am one lucky kid. Not everybody is born into a nice, caring, supportive and fun family, and not everyone is close with their family either. I also realize that no everyone is born with an incredible sister that can carry the flow of the music we create with her amazing voice and professional, natural bass skills. Blues music has basically taught me that my sister actually has a soul, figuratively and literally!!

Logan: Blues music teaches me new things every day. Blues evolved from African Spirituals during the early 1600’s through hard times. Blues music not only gives you knowledge about the horrendous experiences that occurred back then, but also teaches you how to sing soulfully.

"I consider Blues an artistic movement, that just so happened to inspire the future “musical genres” to come. I look at blues as a hero to all music, and to its time. People could speak on Blues as much as they want or can, but it can’t ever be stressed just how important Blues is as a whole, =. Movement, music, and cultural-socio-cultural impact alike."

What does the blues mean to you?

Cole: The blues means everything to me. It is, in my very strong opinion, the most important musical genre there is. It is the root of all music, it is the soul of all music, the soul of all soul, the seed of all musical growth, and the music I am proud to call my genre. I also feel that the blues is a very important, yet misunderstood part of American history that everyone should rightfully learn about and explore into at some point.

Logan: Blues music means everything to me, and without finding this genre of music, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Singing soulful blues music allows me to connect to the audience, drawing them in closer. Blues music also has a lot of exciting qualities to it, such as: sadness, heartbreak, yet also happiness, love, and funny aspects. You really cannot find another style of music as genuine and soulful, it’s such a joy to perform.

How do you describe In Layman Terms sound and songbook?

Cole: I describe our sound as very raw and real, and when I say real, I mean real. What I mean by raw sounding is we have a very organic sound, our music comes straight from us and our souls and instruments; not from a computer or 500-watt guitar pedal board or a million-dollar sound system. Even our recordings are raw. We try to be as raw and real as we can be, because that’s what music is all about, especially the blues. Our songbook consists of many originals mixed with old blues covers, and the blues songs that we do cover has In Layman Terms written all over it as we make it our own and make it as unique and original as possible.

Logan: I’d like to classify In Layman Term’s sound as gritty, traditional with modern twists, and foot stomping music. Cole and I are both too young to experience true heartbreak, so we write our music mostly on the issues in the world today, such as: homelessness, cancer, conflicts, etc. We hope to one day inspire more people to make a difference in the world today.

"I miss that the generations have changed, and I can’t ask anyone my age “hey do you like this blues song?” or, “hey did you hear that guitar solo?” It’s very hard for me to relate to people my age and their music tastes, and vice versa of course."

How do you describe "Strong Roots" songbook and sound? Where does band's creative drive come from?

Cole: I would describe the songbook and sound of Strong Roots as extremely diverse and much different as opposed to our previous albums and works. This album, Strong Roots, captures the band’s authenticity, and the different skill-sets/feels that each of the four of us brings to the table ourselves. Hamed, in his roots, is a bred Jazz musician, and he adds that touch of Jazz to a very bluesy album. Nick has been playing Drums for a large portion of his life, and he brings a more funk/rock feel to the drums throughout the album. I consider myself as a heavily-blues influenced guitarist, but I’ve definitely experimented with southern rock, jazz and R&B which intertwines with the diversity of the album. Then of course Logan has a very soulful, gritty blues-based voice, but she also has a very pop/indie side of her voice she often incorporates In the album, as well as her funk-based bass lines.

Logan: It’s a mixture between a lot of different styles of music and we took a very long time to write each of the songs. Everyone plays their individual part, and the merge of all of our differences musically and off the stage work so well together, I couldn’t be more blessed to have these three along my side, on and off the stage!

Are there any memories from "Strong Roots" studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

Cole: The Strong Roots studio sessions were incredible, and we really packed a lot into a very average amount of studio time. I would have to say that my fondest memories of our studio time for this album were our disagreements. Our disagreements were fun, because everytime we disagreed we got just that much more confident in each other and just that much closer. I enjoyed listening to what everyone had to say, and how everyone would handle it. The passion is definitely there, and it really showed throughout our time in the studio.

Logan: Oh this is so hard!! I’d have to say that my favorite memory was when we all four sang together, and it took us so many takes because we were all laughing so hard at each other.

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of past? What touched (emotionally) you from the Roots music?

Cole: What I miss mostly about the music of the past is really the authenticity. This is part of the reason we, as In Layman Terms, really stress the authenticity of this album. We have done our best to capture that, and we hope that our audiences can feel that as well.

Logan: I miss that the generations have changed, and I can’t ask anyone my age “hey do you like this blues song?” or, “hey did you hear that guitar solo?” It’s very hard for me to relate to people my age and their music tastes, and vice versa of course.

How has the Blues, Soul and Jazz influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

Cole: The blues, soul and jazz have all influenced my views of the world and my journeys greatly. To know of all that and the history that surrounds it all has taken a toll on how I look at things, in a great way of course.

Logan: Although I cannot experience what the originators of Blues music had to go through, I have an idea of what it feels like to be in their shoes through the emotion of what they portray through what they sing, so I have a better understanding of what it was like for them.

What is the impact of Blues music and culture to the racial, political, and socio-cultural implications? 

Cole: The impact blues music and culture has on racial, cultural, and socio-cultural implications is in need of great notice. If you take a look at what Blues music and culture is all about and what is came from/derived from, one might have a better understanding of just how special the roots music is. Blues will forever be more important that a “genre” or “good music”, it’s an era, and it’s recovery, and how many salves got through in the renaissance era. You can’t put a label on that and the severity of Blues music as a whole.

Logan: It is one of the biggest artistic movements of all time, the impacts that it had on society back then and today could never be spoken of and stressed enough. The blues is so powerful in so many different ways.

What does to be a female artist in a “Man's World” as James Brown says? What is the status of women in music?

Logan: (Starts singing this is a man’s world) It’s captivating and unusual to people, because I’m a woman playing bass and singing up on those stages. Often times, us women are underestimated on our abilities and skills, and I feel that everywhere I play and go.

Do you consider the Blues a specific music genre and artistic movement or do you think it’s a state of mind?

Cole: I consider Blues an artistic movement, that just so happened to inspire the future “musical genres” to come. I look at blues as a hero to all music, and to its time. People could speak on Blues as much as they want or can, but it can’t ever be stressed just how important Blues is as a whole, =. Movement, music, and cultural-socio-cultural impact alike.

"The impact blues music and culture has on racial, cultural, and socio-cultural implications is in need of great notice. If you take a look at what Blues music and culture is all about and what is came from/derived from, one might have a better understanding of just how special the roots music is."

Which acquaintances have been the most important experiences?

Cole: My family is the most important. Because of them and their support I have been able to excel in my music. So many kids don’t have that. I am very lucky, and I know it. Speaking of family, I have also met many kind blues musicians who have supported my sister and I along the way. That is the cool thing about the blues community, it is more like family. For the most part, blues musicians are not threatened by the younger generation coming up. They welcome us and support us.  It is a great family.

Logan: I’d definitely have to say that one of the most important experiences in Cole and I’s time playing the blues was attending Pinetop Perkins Master class in Clarksdale Mississippi, hosted by Bob Margolin, who used to be Muddy Water’s guitarist. This camp has taught me a lot about traditional blues, along with great methods of stage presence. Also, I have met amazing peers who love the blues just as much as I do, it is truly an incredible blessing to have attended this camp for two years. I can’t wait to go back this summer!

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

Cole: The best advice anyone ever gave me was advice that I never needed, that I got from many and many and many people, whether it be musicians, my proud parents, friends, or fans; and that advice was to never quit. I consider this the best advice I’ve gotten because I feel that giving up music is giving up magic, and it’s giving up a huge opportunity for a fun-filled career and fun-filled times. Music has brought me so much joy, and I could have easily quit when I first started and my fingers were blistering and bleeding, but I didn’t. I could have quit when I felt discouraged by older guitarists, or sweet guitar solos that I couldn’t play, or sweeping (which I still can’t do), but I didn’t, and man oh man am I so glad and lucky that I have what I have now for not quitting. It’s really the best advice that anyone could ever get, and that’s why I hold that advice so close and dear to my heart, because I feel that it needs to be passed on to everyone that’s having a tough time, or anybody that’s reconsidering what they’re doing because they think they aren’t any good and/or won’t get better. Don’t give up.

Logan: The best advice ever given to me has to be from my parents. Ever since I was a little girl they would always tell me, “Logan, you have something special. There will be people who try to bring you down, but you must rise above it and prove to them that you are capable of anything that you put your mind to. Stick with your gut, don’t let anybody control what you want to do for yourself and your future.” Having the parents I have is truly a blessing.  Without them, I would be nowhere near close to the person I am today.

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

Cole: There are so many memories I have from gigs and open mics, I couldn’t possibly choose one in particular to share without having to share the rest, and you don’t want a couple hundred pages of me blabbering about memories!!!

Logan: I remember the first jam my brother, mom and I were involved in like it was just yesterday! I think I was about eight years old and my brother, Cole Layman, was eleven years old. My bass was bigger than I was, and my brother was super nervous. We got called up to the stage, with a crowd of about forty people, and as nervous as ever, we started performing the blues and nobody expected it. It’s great to see the smiles on people’s faces when we perform the blues.

What are your hopes and fears for the future of the blues?

Cole: My fear for the future of the blues is that there is going to be no future. My hopes are that I will have nothing to fear.

Logan: I really hope to inspire younger musicians to pick up an instrument and play the genre of music that their heart desires to (hopefully blues music). And, if that happens, I hope that there are no more fears of blues music becoming “extinct.” I honestly do not fear the blues dying out, because I believe that the blues will not only stay alive, but thrive in the future generations through not only older people, but younger people as well.

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

Cole: I miss the raw sound blues had back then as opposed to modern blues. Today, it’s too electric and too “played by the rules.” Artists have a whole genre to experiment with and be creative with, but I still tend to hear that 12-bar 1-4-5 typical blues with nothing different from the vocalists and soloists!! If I could change one thing in the musical world and have that become a reality, it would definitely be the atmosphere of live music. Today’s live music is lip-synced raps, pop, and too much choreographed and theatrical, dirty dancing. I wish people still had rock and roll in their soul, and blues of course!! I want to listen to my friends’ brag about having tickets to a real concert, not a Twenty One pilots concert or a Drake concert!

Logan: If I could change one thing in the musical world, my dream is to listen to the blues on a “hot,” “popular” radio station! I’d love for other children my age to be as happy as going to a blues concert as they are to a rap concert.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

Cole: If I were to take a trip in a time machine and was able to place myself in any time period for a whole day, as far as music, there’s not a doubt that I’d go to Woodstock the day that Jimi played! Jimi is one of my most cherished idols and his music is as raw and organic sounding as it gets! Jimi is a true hero and legend, and Woodstock was a legendary event for a legendary time. More magical that Walt Disney World, and I love Disney World!!! I wish you’d give me more time in the time machine though, I want to live the whole thing! Woodstock from start to finish!!!

Logan: If I could go somewhere for a day in a time machine I would go hang out with Elvis on Beale Street. I mean, he’s Elvis.

In Layman Terms - Official website

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