At age 19, singer and performer Layla
Her grandparents in Alajuela, Costa Rica, invited her to live and work with them at their busy bed and breakfast and hostel. They also promised her singing lessons. “I was so broken at the time that it made sense to me. I realized that I needed more stability.”
She studied at a conservatory and sang in a chorus. "It was my first time understanding singing as an instrument. I learned how to completely use my body to hit almost any note I wanted to,” she recalls. "It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. It’s such a beautiful place and incredible country." After a year, she felt like she had learned everything that she needed. "I knew that I wanted to find my own local musical experimental community to collaborate and share and support and I wanted to come back to Miami to do that."
The now 26-year-old has been a staple on the Miami weirdo music scene for years now as JuJu Pie, riding the line between musician and performance artist. Back in her hometown, she learned to write music and worked with Eli Oviedo of the band Dracula. She sang while he played the harp or keys on her first album. “I love to collaborate with people so much, almost to a codependent point," she reveals, “When I sing, my eyes roll in the back of my head, and I totally get lost every single time. And I wake up from the trance, and I realize that there’s a rhythm that I have to be following.” She also worked with a full band — Oviedo on keys; Nico Cordova, formerly of metal trio Devalued, played drums; and Chris Bell, who now has an ambient guitar solo project, added guitar.
After seeking different collaborators, she has been performing on her own for now. ”It’s a lot like dating," she says. "You have to test the waters out, and sometimes it doesn’t work and you have to text them, '
As JuJu Pie, Bessito's costumes are showstoppers. Her extreme fashions have involved haunting face paint, masks, wings, lingerie, and crazy contacts. They really set the stage for her performance. "Miami is at an amazing place because the
She says she felt her performance was stale when she was wearing a club outfit. “I wanted it to become a totally immersive experience, and a lot of that came from how people feel when I perform. When I perform, I grab people’s attention," she says. She's been told that people feel transported to another time when watching her. If she can do that with sound and costumes, she feels satisfied.
“These are characters or visuals that have always been inside of me. There really is no reference point; there’s no mood for it. It’s how I feel,"
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She has enjoyed touring the East Coast with stops at Brooklyn's the Glove and Super Cheap Gallery, and Baltimore's the Bank — a long-standing venue in an old bank vault. She stayed in a haunted Victorian mansion where a bunch of punks