• BeatsRoot

Interview: AYA

By Paige Mackenzie

Interviewed: November 26th 2019.

I’m at Liverpool's FACT gallery sat in the chill café inside. My friend Ahmed is joining me to chat about his music. We’ve been friends for a few years and met at one of the LJMU (Liverpool John Moors University) music society open mics. Ahmed’s one of those people who everybody gets along with. He has one of those auras that make you feel good. His music is an extension of his personality. He doesn’t just play guitar and sing; he tells you a story. I knew I had to interview him for Beats Root.

"AYA" (Ahmed) photo by @georgiaflynncreative (on instagram)

Where did the name AYA come from?

I’ve always felt that ‘Ahmed’ is basically the Middle Eastern version of ‘John’, it’s the most common name in the Middle East, it’s like we’re everywhere. So, I was thinking to myself, I have like five middle names. The one that I picked was Ayyal and in my language it means stag or gazelle, hence why when you see the title ‘AYA’ the Y looks like the horns on a stag.

I shortened Ayyal to AYA because it stands for a lot of my principles, it’s about being abrasive, about being out there and it’s also about defending people and speaking for people and taking care of people. It’s fucking graceful because it’s a gazelle at the end of the day.

How would you describe your music to somebody who has never heard it?

Oh it took me ages to come up with this ‘anthemic R&B folk pop’

Is anybody else in that category

Not that I know of.

What kind Of Music Has Influenced You?

The first songs I ever heard were like old rock songs; George Harrison – My Sweet Lord, Dire Straits – Sultans of Swing and Layla by Eric Clapton and Hotel California by The Eagles, they’re the first four songs I can remember hearing. Then I moved to the North West from London and that meant I had a free rein on my music taste so I went heavy into hip hop, R&B, rap and soul.

Everything from Tupac back to Ray Charles so like a lot of my stuff stems from there, even when I write whether it be a folk song or something or poems there’s a natural flow to the lyrics because of how invested I am into hip hop and R&B. When I play its rhythmic playing because of hip hop. I’ve got the Bollywood influence from my mum for my voice, I love dancing with my vocals because it makes it different and not many people do it which is great.

What does making your music mean to you?

It’s raw emotion. It’s a diary for me so it’ll be as honest as possible. I think a lot of the time people grow up shielding a lot of their emotions and blocking themselves off whereas I think that I learnt at a young age never to hold back my emotions or sustain them so my music is literally, it’s as free as a spirit can be. Music in a manner of speaking saved my life.

You have two songs on your Spotify at the moment but when are you planning on releasing new music?

I have a single launch on March 20th 2020 for a song called Gaslight and then every six weeks for a year after that there will be a song coming out. There will be a physical EP to buy at gigs but in terms of on my Spotify they will all be singles.

"AYA" (Ahmed) photo by @georgiaflynncreative (on instagram)

When are you next playing a gig?

I’m playing a gig on the 24th February at Studio 2 for one of my friend’s single launches, Leoni, she’s actually one of my backing vocalists. I’m playing a support slot for her and I may have a gig early February and that’ll be like a private listening party for a couple of my songs that are recorded. But the next big date is March 20th.

How do you get tickets for your March 20th gig?

You can turn up on the door but generally you should be able to book tickets online once the events up, either Skiddle or Eventbrite but there will be a link in my bio on Instagram.

Links to AYA below!

Instagram: @ayamusicuk


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