We caught up with Äyanna
words: Kristen Bingle
photo: David Town Hill
Humble, down to earth and insanely talented; Äyanna is the East London vocalist you need to have on your radar. The 21 year old has been navigating the music industry for little under a year but already has big ambitions to make her mark. She released her debut single ‘Party Tricks’ late last year and has been defining her sound during this lockdown period. We caught up with Äyanna via phone on a particularly cloudy lockdown day.
For anyone who has never heard you perform, how would you describe your sound?
It's personal, it's vulnerable. The way I would describe my whole sound? I don't even know yet. To be confirmed [giggle]. My voice has a style of its own that I’m learning about the more I sing. I’m still working out my sound, production wise, so it's hard to categorise it. Sometimes it's like trying on different costumes. I’m excited about discovering that and learning more. I'm hoping who I am comes through my music.
[My single] ‘Party Tricks’ has a classic RnB sound. If someone likes Mahalia, SZA or Ari Lennox they would like it.
When did you start embarking on your musical career?
Last year. I dropped out from my Law & Spanish degree and convinced my mum to be my manager. It's really new and exciting. I’m new to a lot of things, and I’m learning as I go.
So you were born in Jamaica, and grew up in East London. Do you think where you’re from has shaped your sound?
I’m not sure. I’m still developing, and nothing sounds like London other than my accent. A lot of the ‘Party Tricks’ streams are from America, and worldwide actually. I’ve never felt as if my sound or message is confined to where I’m from. In terms of my place as a human and as a young girl, I write from that place, and people all over connect with that. We’re really just out here living the same life. We underestimate how similar our lives and experiences are around the world. The fundamentals of our experiences are the same and this is what connects us.
What’s your favourite part of being an artist?
Performing! I've been performing since I was 6, so that's huge. I don’t underestimate the power of a good performance and a good show; you take yourself and give it to people physically. Being on stage with my own message is just levels.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years, music wise?
My ultimate goal is to take over the world. People are gonna know who I am. I wanna be everywhere.
One artist you would love to collaborate with?
One artist you can’t get enough of?
I'm really feeling FKA Twigs right now. Let me pick one though [laughs]. I’m doing a lot of exercise right now, so I’m listening to a lot of Drake - it just pumps me up. I’m loving his features on ‘Loyal’ with PartyNextDoor, ‘Come Closer’ with WizKid and ‘Toosie Slide.’
What do you think of UK music right now?
I really really like Mabel. She works so hard and she's grown so much in the past couple of years. Mahalia is massively underrated, she needs to be out here more and Jorja Smith is just doing so well.
How have you been staying creative during this time?
I try to stay happy. I have amazing creative and inspirational friends and I love getting creative with them. Writing songs or poetry, dancing and listening to music - trying to keep my mind awake. I love Pixar movies - they make me feel like a child again. I always have song ideas when I watch a movie. Sometimes I'll make a song in my dreams, then work on it throughout the day. Creativity can happen naturally or just when I’m in a good mood and feeling inspired.
What would you say to someone who is really struggling at this time?
It's scary, we’re going through a dark time. Some of us are coming face to face with horrible aspects of ourselves and our lives. But survival is our right and we’re gonna come out the other side of this. We're all in our heads, but we’re not alone - it couldn't be a bigger lie that we’re on our own.
Any Netflix shows you’d recommend?
Big Mouth, Rick & Morty, Clarence, Breaking Bad and How to Get Away with Murder.
What are your plans post lockdown?
I realise how much I miss Central London and travelling. Travelling and seeing new things inspires me so much, so I’ll definitely be travelling as soon as it's allowed. Also just working in different places, being busy around the place.
I wanna release an EP as soon as I can. I feel like there's more I can give before I call it an EP. I’m just really excited about post lock down life.