It’s not a bird and it’s not a plane so what in the world is a Layder? Having been together for four years now, The Layders have brought a neo-soul dimension (peppered with jazz and bossa-nova influences) to the SA music scene.

The Layders caught their big break after being spotted performing at the popular Thesis Social Jam held in Soweto every month.

Last year, the six-piece band was signed to Soul Candi Records and songs like the infectious Smiling With the Sun have been doing the radio rounds. They recently released their debut album, For All Seasons. But still, what is a Layder?

Khensane Khoza, who goes by the alias, Ckenz (pronounced Kenz) is a founding member of The Layders and he has an answer.

“A layder is a person who loves or appreciates art. Someone who is a creator,” he explains before he laughs, “there really is no meaning behind the word. We give it meaning through what we do. This is what we do. We are a bunch of creatives who just used to jam together since like, 2008. Back then we would listen to a whole lot of A Tribe Called Quest and there’s this one part in a song where they keep saying ‘later, later, later alligator’ (writer’s note: he pronounces later as layder) and we used to say that to each other all the time so that’s pretty much where The Layders started.”

Ckenz is the vocalist who is backed by a tight band that includes Scott Ross, Barvu on saxophone, Boody Bayz on bass guitar, Crisp on the mic and V The Vowel on keyboards. The group members hail from far and wide (East Rand, Soweto, Newcastle and Limpopo) and the 22- to 35-year-olds know that age ain’t nothing but a number when it comes to gelling together through music. When not oozing of pop sensibility in the Electric Avenue cover (this obvious radio-friendly song really doesn’t do them justice) or trying their skills out on songs that sound inspired by Sergio Mendez, The Layders are good at laying down some smooth soul. The sound, guided by Ckenz who is also the principal writer in the group, tends to pander more towards an old D’Angelo (think Brown Sugar) style, even though Ckenz says this wasn’t the group’s intention.

“I like Bob Marley, Raphael Saadiq and others,” he confesses, “but I really love Sade’s work. On For All Seasons we really wanted to give an ode to Sade because she’s on that ska tip and we love her harmonies. But we know people are going to have different perceptions of what we do but this is our art. We know that there are going to be people who appreciate the type of music we make so I guess it’s all in fate’s hands. I don’t know how much the album will sell but I do know that this is art and people will like it at least.”

Only time will tell.

• The Layders’ debut album, For All Seasons is now in stores. Check them out at Kid Fonque’s Two Sides Of The Beat at Kitcheners in Braamfontein on July 6. Tickets at the door.