Seth Evans and Daniel lyere spent the better part of a year in Evans’s home studio in Denver working on the songs that would make up Globeville, the debut EP from their duo Laykes.
That was a few years back. The recordings sat on Evans’s hard drive, unused.
The recording process was difficult, and the two eventually quit speaking to one another before the project was finished.
“It’s a lot of time for two dudes to spend together,” Evans says. “We took a road trip to L.A., and it was a lot of time to spend together, and we just kind of had a falling-out.”
lyere chuckles a bit at their temporary breakup.
“It happens,” he says. “It was a growing experience for me. I fine-tuned my sense of manhood when I went to Denver, because I was challenged by a lot of experiences. The experience with Seth was one of those challenges. But there is always going to be love there, because Seth is my brother.”
Evans moved to Brooklyn and lyere to Los Angeles to work on different projects, and they drifted apart. This year, though, Evans finished mixing and mastering the songs with some help from a friend. He reconnected with lyere, and the two decided to release the five songs under the title Globeville, a nod to the Denver neighborhood where the tracks were recorded.
In a way, the songs on Globeville evoke Gaucho-era Steely Dan, particularly “Hey Nineteen.”
The two songwriters say they mix the synth-heavy, funk-laden, Prince-inspired Minneapolis Sound together with Afrobeat.
Evans is originally from Minnesota, and as a child lived close to Paisley Park, Prince’s home and studio. He considers Prince's catalogue to be the defining characteristic of the Minneapolis Sound and an influence on his own music.
lyere, originally from Lagos, Nigeria, came to the United States as a college student. He says Evans has an indie-pop, indie-rock, R&B and alternative aesthetic to his music, and it was fun to combine his own Afrobeat with those pop influences to make something new and exciting.
“It’s always fun meeting and creating with American musicians,” lyere says. “Whether it’s hip-hop or indie or folk or deep house, it’s always fun.”
He says he went into the project with the idea of creating a hybrid style of Afrobeat and American music.
Evans says lyere brought a lot of rhythmic elements to the songs, noting that they also carry a bit of the spirit of Quincy Jones-era Michael Jackson tracks — a clean, funky sound that relies on strings and synths.
“I remember us both thinking that,” Evans says. “To me, it’s just kind of weird pop music. We kind of vibed a lot of the melodies as far as the singing [goes]. I wrote a lot of the lyrics, and he helped me a lot with that. It was just a cool experience.”
Evans and lyere share vocal duties on most of the songs, and Denver rapper and singer Jon Shockness, who also records as Kid Astronaut, contributes vocals on one song. Instrumentally, the bandmates played pianos and synths and shared drum duties. Evans did most of the guitar work.
“There are a lot of live instruments, and there is a lot of software stuff,” Evans says. “Daniel used more software stuff than I had before. I usually use hardware synths and real instruments. That approach was cool, melding the two together.”
Evans and lyere are glad they reconnected through the pandemic and decided on releasing the music. A lot of work went into it, and it would have been a shame to let it gather dust on a hard drive. As for whether we can expect to hear more from Laykes, or if this is just a one-off project, that remains to be seen. The two bandmates live on separate coasts, but modern technology makes distance collaborations more of a thing than they were in the past.
“I don’t really know,” Evans says. “I think it’s possible. When I think about it, some of the memories are a little painful. It’s a hard thing to want to dive back into it, but I also can see the potential.”
“I would like to think we’ll make more music in the future,” lyere says. “Ultimately, the response from this one will inspire us and give us more confidence to put out more stuff. ... I’m open to it.”
Globeville is available on all streaming platforms. Go to the Laykes website for more information.
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