Mango Dreamers: The Sweet Sounds of Dream Pop
Duo Layla and Chuksingh have come a seriously long way in their pursuit of musical aspirations. How far? Well, about half a world away. Originally from the Philippines and Australia, respectively, they now call Los Angeles home, where they’re making moves in the music scene. Progressive Man had the pleasure of chatting with them to learn more about their music, the making of their featured music video, and how this dreamy duo got started.
Hi Mango Dreamers, thank you all for taking the time to speak with us! Let’s get started by learning a little more about each of you first. Could you introduce yourselves and tell a little about how you first got into music?
LAYLA: I grew in the Philippines when I was a kid, then moved to Los Angeles. I’m part Filipina, so music is very much a part of my culture! Singing 80s hits on karaoke was a regular pastime for the family. I started playing the guitar and writing songs when I was twelve and I guess never stopped.
CHUKSiNGH: My name’s CHUKSiNGH and i’m originally from Sydney, Australia.. but now a permanent resident of cray cray L.A!! I got into Music partially thru my sister who was into the current pop, rock, r&b and funk….My tastes expanded to rock and metal, and I had friends at school who would jam in the school hall after hours. At that point in time I had no real hobbies, so watching my friends make noise seemed pretty interesting. I saved and got a cheap guitar and then got stuck into it not too long after that.
So how was it that the Mango Dreamers came to be formed? Did you already know of each other and decide to combine talents?
LAYLA: I was working on my fourth solo album when I met Chuksingh who played guitar for me for a while. I was impressed by Chuksingh’s guitar playing style, and his fun, easygoing attitude. But I only started finding out how truly talented he was when we decided to start Mango Dreamers. Not only does he play amazing guitar, he plays bass, drums, keys, sings, and produces music!
CHUKSiNGH: I really enjoyed performing on Layla’s solo music. We became friends immediately and stayed in touch even while we were doing other individual musical projects. One day she mentioned that we should write a song together which could feature in a short film that she was working on. The writing session really flowed, and we decided to keep writing songs,and voila, within a month we had a whole album! It’s awesome being in a band with a cool chick that sings and plays guitar! I haven’t been in one of those bands in a while!
So how did you guys come up with your name, Mango Dreamers? What other names were under consideration? Did you ever go by a different name?
CHUKSiNGH: Layla came up with that name…I do love Mangoes and Dreaming and didn’t know that both combined together had its own meaning… I think “Hyper Vixen” was thrown about, and a few other names which might need a different viewer rating…
LAYLA: I LOVE mangoes and I thought that it reflected our exotic backgrounds nicely (I’m Filipina/Vietnamese, Chuksingh is Maori/Chinese) And our music is pretty darn dreamy…
Alright, let’s talk about your sound a bit. You have a dream pop sound with what feels like an easy-listening lounge feel mixed in. What was it that prompted you to take your music in that direction? Is that laid back, relaxed feel exactly what you’re going for?
LAYLA: I grew up on 1970s songwriting (a la Carole King, America, the Carpenters, Brazilian bossa nova) so this type of music seems to come out quite naturally for me!
CHUKSiNGH: Yes, I would add to that, Fleetwood Mac, Doobie Brothers (Michael Macdonald era specifically for me), The Eagles, The Commodores etc!!! Layla’s voice is quite relaxing to me, and then the love of acoustic guitars and styles like Bossa Nova and Jazz definitely seem to go hand in hand….i love going to tropical places and even just alluding to that imagery, so it all seemed to flow, as has been pretty much everything we’ve done together.
Late last year you released your self-titled album, Mango Dreamers. How long was that album in the works for? Did you end up writing some songs that you didn’t use on the album?
LAYLA: It was crazy how quickly it all happened. We started working on it in July 2013, and we had the CD in our hands by September! So three months of writing, recording, and singing. It was an incredible effort – we were at the studio nonstop! Not to mention Chuksingh also mixed the record AND designed the album artwork.
CHUKSiNGH: It was an intense time, but we did it. In this industry you meet lots of people who talk, but we certainly talked and delivered! Yes, it came together really quickly and smoothly. That’s a good sign to me.
So now that your album is released you’ve been playing a ton of shows. How do you guys feel getting up on stage? Are there still some nerves there or is it a joy from start to finish?
LAYLA: I always get a little nervous before a show, but once we start performing, it’s just really fun!
CHUKSiNGH: I would really only get nerves if there wasn’t enough rehearsal… or if the band had members that couldn’t pull off the right feel in the songs….luckily I don’t feel any of that, and enjoy performing our songs with the band.
The song of yours that we’re featuring today is “Every Time”. Is there a personal experience that prompted the lyrics of the song? Are most of your songs based on personal experience?
LAYLA: Every Time is just a fun, happy love song that naturally wrote itself. Actually, most of the songs in our album is that way!
CHUKSiNGH: Yep, some personal experience for sure, but we also like to present some positive emotions, feelings or fantasies… …we rarely tackle hard or depressing issues as you can probably hear or see…life’s hard already!
You also have a music video for “Every Time”, which seems like it was a ton of fun to shoot. Tell us a little bit about the set and how the idea for the music video came about. Was it fun to shoot or was it a lot of work?
LAYLA: It was so cool to have a family friend allow us to use their boat to film! I got a bunch of my girlfriends together and said, “who wants to party on a boat in bikinis?” Thankfully, they all willingly obliged.
CHUKSiNGH: Yes, so much help from friends and family. It went smoothly for the most part. I had a good time…it’s touching when female friends will get bikini’d up to help a brother out. Not so much male friends.
Ok, here’s a fun little question we have for you. Tell us about the first show the Mango Dreamers ever played. Where was it, and what was going through your head? Did everything go smoothly?
LAYLA: Our first show was at a cool art venue in Atwater Village (it’s a neighborhood in LA) called Atwater Crossing. The staff there were super awesome and helped us through everything, even fed us really great food! We are so lucky to play with professional musicians, so everything went smoothly. I think the worst show we ever played at was a venue in Oakland – they forgot we were performing that night. But that’s a whole other story!
CHUKSiNGH: Yes, that’s a really interesting night and gig…you’ll have to interview us again solely for that story!
Thank you Mango Dreamers! Where can our readers go to find your music?
LAYLA: Please go to our bandcamp website that you can simply access through: www.mangodreamers.com . We actually also have a Live EP there that’s a free download! And anyone can check out our shows on our facebook page: www.facebook.com/mangodreamers
Thanks so much Progressive Man for the opportunity to interview!