Arcane Meets: Swedish-Iranian R&B Vocalist, Ayelle. “I love how music can help people process their feelings.”

In this editon of “Arcane Meets” we are introduced to the Iranian-Swedish R&B Vocalist, Ayelle. Most known for her soft vocals and melodic cadences, Ayelle has been the artist to watch for the last five years. The electronic-r&b artist, who is currently based in the UK, made time to talk to Arcane about her introduction to music, the hardships she has faced since being thrust into stardom and much more!

Enjoy the interview.


Ayelle 01.png“I’ve always been able to adapt quickly and pick myself back up…”

 

Before we begin, would you like to introduce yourself?

A: Sure! I’m Ayelle, I’m 24 years old and I make electronic r&b/pop. I’m half Swedish/Iranian and I grew up in Sweden and Spain but now live in the UK.

 

I personally know you to be an R&B artist, but with the amount of music you’ve released since debuting in 2015, some may consider you an Electronic-R&B, and some don’t even label you. I’m curious to know what genre you consider your general sound to be? (if you even affiliate with one)

A: Yep, I would also call it electronic r&b/pop haha. Genres are getting so ambiguous these days though so you can never be sure of what you’re actually making, people will always have  a different idea of what it is to them. I just like to experiment with my voice and quirky sounds.

 

Growing up in London, I’m curious to know what type of music influenced you. Who were some of the artists you gravitated towards in your youth? Are there any in particular you can pinpoint that influence your personal sound? 

A: I’m a 90s baby so I grew up listening to Britney,  Shakira and Beyonce haha. Beyonce was definitely a huge early influence on me as well as this Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston CD that my mom and I would sing along to religiously. Since my dad’s Iranian there was also a lot of persian music in the house growing up which I feel had more of a subconscious influence on my singing techniques and oriental influences.

 

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As I mentioned earlier, you debuted in 2015, but it wasn’t until 2016 that audiences discovered Ayelle, the artist with your debut project Machine. Can you remember some of the emotions, thoughts, etc. that you felt while creating the project?

A: It was both a very overwhelming and somewhat underwhelming process for me. Overwhelming in the sense that I didn’t have a specific producer I was working with so all of the songs were randomly pieced together with demos and different producers and I worked really hard at still trying to create something cohesive.

I definitely had very unrealistic expectations at that time since it was early days for me, so the release felt underwhelming when those expectations weren’t met. But I’ve always been able to adapt quickly and pick myself back up so that’s what I did and just carried on. I’m still proud of that early project though and I learnt so many valuable lessons from that.

 

Because this was your first project, did you have any goals that you wanted to meet?

A: The goals I had set for the project were different from what I actually got out of it, which I think were some very important lessons about how the industry works.  It equipped me with knowledge that I wouldn’t otherwise have been able to attain. I also got my first big blog premiere and playlist placement on Spotify which was definitely a good step in the right direction.

 

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“The whole reason I started making music in the first place was to be able to process my own feelings…”

 

Your lead single “Machine” quickly gained success surpassing over 30,000 plays (on SoundCloud alone); with this being your first project, did you hope for a response like this; and was it somewhat gratifying to know that this many people enjoyed your music?

A: As I mentioned before,  I had very unrealistic expectations about the project and although it made me super happy that people were listening to and enjoying the music, I didn’t realise just how much work there was still to be done, that it was only the beginning.

 

Looking back on the time between Machine’s release and right now, what part of being an artist has been the most gratifying (thus far)?

A: Being able to support myself off music is honestly such a huge blessing. It allows me to focus on making the best art I can possibly make and to navigate this industry with a healthy mindset and lifestyle, something which was very hard to do whilst I was still working a dayjob. Of course the core of why I do this and the most gratifying experience of all is when people reach out and let you know how a song has touched them or helped them through something. I love how music can help people process their feelings.

The whole reason I started making music in the first place was to be able to process my own feelings, so the fact that the songs can do that for others too feels incredible.

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Within a month of release your debut project, you had already begun releasing singles and collaborations; songs like “Reclaim” and “Take Your Time” (prod. Osmo) quickly gaining popularity. With every song that you’ve released, has it ever gotten to a point where it’s hard to remain creative (influenced)? If so, how do you normally get through those times?

A: I’ve been blessed with a constant flow of inspiration in my life so I’ve luckily never had writers block. I don’t think my way to my songs, I kind of let them write themselves. I call it “subconscious writing” because often I don’t know what I’m writing about when I start a new song and as I explore my feelings further the meaning of the song unfolds.

 

By 2017, you had released a ton of collaborations with producers and solo work, but if I’m correct you also released your first song with a featuring artist: “Rush”, featuring Nakala. How did this collaboration come about?

A: I had heard Nakala’s song ‘Paris’ and fell in love with it so I reached out. She works out of a studio in Portsmouth with a producer called Brad Baker so I started going there a lot and working with them, we all get on really well and love working together 🙂

 

Even in 2019, Nakala remains the only singer-songwriter you’ve brought into your world of music. Are there any other musicians you think would mesh with your sound?

A: Yes, this year I’ve got upcoming collaborations with Akacia, Naji and Mothica and hopefully lots more to come!

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“I think who I am as an artist is ever evolving…”

 

As of 2019, you’ve released two projects, two joint projects, countless singles and features. I’m curious to know what some of your goals for the year are?

A: I’m releasing a single every month and putting together some visuals and just focusing on creating consistent high quality music and content.

 

You recently released two singles “NBDY” and “Obvious” could we potentially hear these songs on a project later in the year?; and for those who have yet to hear, can you briefly explain what both songs are about?

A:  They won’t be going on a project as they’re part of the 12 singles I’m releasing this year. Next year however I do have a 10 track EP on the horizon!

The recent singles are quite different as one is about more recent events in my life and the other one draws inspiration from events that happened quite long ago now but that still hurt nonetheless. Obvious is about being in a long distance relationship and wanting to make sure you both remember how much you love each other. NBDY is about domestic abuse and the patterns of both mental and physical abuse which break down your sense of self worth.

 

With every song you create, do you come closer to knowing who you want to be as an artist, and knowing how you would like your music to affect people?

A: I think who I am as an artist is ever evolving, every time I think I’ve come close I start changing again haha. All i know is that I wanna make music that speaks to people on various levels and is able to help people process their emotions and grow.

 

As I mentioned, 2019 marks four years under your belt, do you think you’ve grown (creatively, musically). Are there any words of wisdom you can give up and coming musicians?

A: Yeah absolutely. It can’t be compared haha. My advice would be to educate yourself about all aspects of the industry, through asking questions and always being an active part of your artist project even when you have a team around you. It’s invaluable to understanding the choices you’re making and the consequences.

 

Lastly, is there something you would like to tell your supporters?

A: remember to self care ❤


If you enjoyed this interview and would like to learn more about Ayelle, be sure to follow her on her social media platforms, Instagram and Twitter. For those interested in hearing more music from Ayelle, including songs mentioned in the interview, make sure to support her on SoundCloud, Spotify, and all streaming platforms available!

Monthly Playlist (Vol. I)

With the turn of the new year, comes the return of Monthly Playlists. With a total of 28 songs, separated by 2 playlists; this month features upcoming artists like London’s Kate Stewart and R&B crooners like 6LACK, Ella Mai. As always, there are two seperate playlists (SoundCloud & Spotify) and provided links.

SoundCloud (16 Songs, 57 minutes)

  • Summer Walker – Wasted
  • Bevy Maco – So Wasted
  • Casedi – Decisions
  • Always Never – It’s Over
  • Alyssa – Losing Myself
  • Clovd – Separate
  • Ohmyla – Criss Cross
  • Chloe Bodur – Billie
  • Mickey Shiloh – Better in My Head
  • Harrison First – Head Games (feat. FOL)
  • Kollof – u (feat. Hatts)
  • Amaal – Not What I Thought
  • Jake Hope – Reasons
  • E. viewz – 쉬어가도돼 (prod.TAEB)
  • Andrea Valle – Trust
  • Henmi – Miss You

Spotify (12 songs, 38 minutes)

  • 6lack – Disconnect
  • Ella Mai – Shot Clock
  • Casedi – Decisions
  • Kawelo – Hoops
  • Amaal – Not What I Thought
  • Cherrie – Vadsomheist
  • Jean Deaux – Work 4 Me (feat. Karli Faux)
  • Teo – Orso
  • Symphani Soto – Feelings
  • Khadijah Lopez – Say it Again
  • JNR. Williams – What A Difference
  • Kate Stewart – On My Mind

Make sure to follow OA on social media platforms: Instagram and Twitter to stay updated.

Arcane Meets: Rising Pop Artist, Lila Drew. “No one knows you better than you…”

In today’s interview, I had the chance to speak with the singer-songwriter who’s being labeled “one of the most refreshing voices in music”. At only 18 years old, the LA based artist, Lila Drew has quickly gained attention for her smooth vocals over r&b influenced pop beats, most evident on her latest single “November”. With Lila juggling between school and a budding career, OA was extremely fortunate to get the chance to speak with Lila about her debut last October, the creation process of her songs, and much more…

Enjoy the interview 🙂


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Before we begin, would you like to introduce yourself?

A: Hi, I’m Lila Drew, I’m a singer/songwriter in Los Angeles, but spent my childhood in London. I am also 18 and am a full time student in my senior year of high school.

 

If I’m correct, you’ve only been releasing music since 2018 right? How has the experience been so far?

A: Yes! I put my first song, “faded/2am” with GoldLink, out in October of 2018, and my second song, “november”, out in November of 2018. The experience has been super positive! I was honestly pretty nervous to put out the first song – the idea of putting yourself out into the world and never being able to take it back definitely freaked me out… Since the songs have come out, I’ve just been surprised at how many people have heard my music and how supportive my friends and family has been. There’s something really special about people you’ve never met understanding and connecting with music I made basically in my bedroom – it’s a really unique and poignant feeling.

 

Both of your songs are very R&B and Pop inspired, I’m curious to know the type of music (artists or genres) you grew up listening to?

A: I grew up listening to a huge array of music. My dad had an insane collection, and I immediately fell in love 60s and 70s music. I remember hearing Stevie Wonder’s Songs In The Key Of Life and Aretha Franklin’s I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You and Led Zeppelin’s Houses Of The Holy for the first time, those were my very first vivid memories.

 

Once you made the decision to pursue music, how did you go about it? Were you already actively writing and recording or did you learn those things along the way?

A: I started singing in choir when I was six, and songwriting when I was eight, so things just progressed very organically and naturally! I started making my own demos, first on GarageBand, and then on Logic and Ableton, and learned to harness my production and writing abilities through that. I don’t think I ever made a decision to pursue music, it was just a huge guiding force in my life and I could never imagine myself doing anything else.

Now, back to your music. You released your first single “Faded/2AM (featuring Goldlink)” in October. What was the creation process for that song?

A: I started writing faded/2am on the way to the studio one day. I was in the car (stuck in traffic), and as I was about to put my headphones in, noticed the absence of noise in the car, which stood out to me. I am constantly surrounded by sound – by other people and by music – and the silence felt so strange. That’s when I opened up the notes on my phone and wrote the first line of the song, “I’m scared of the silence / how it flutters through my room / it just feels violent / I think you feel it too.” The rest of the song kind of flowed after that, I actually ended up writing 12 verses for faded/2am. We ended up going with the first verse! The recording and production of the song was really specific, I knew that the song was my favorite one I had written, and wanted everything to be as close to perfect as possible. GoldLink brought a whole new element to the song that I absolutely love too.

 

Your latest release “November” has also seen moderate success, can you explain what the song is about for those who have yet to hear it?

A: To put it simply, “november” is a nostalgic story of childhood innocence and the natural duality that comes with growing up and getting older while trying to hold onto those bits of youth and purity. It goes through some of my earliest memories, “sitting in your backyard or driving in your dad’s car,” but also expresses my fears of growing up.

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As I mentioned earlier, you are a new artist. Are you excited about your future as an artist? What are some of your goals for 2019?

A: I couldn’t be more excited. I have so much more music to share and I want to explore some new sonics and sounds. I am planning to release at least one EP (maybe two!) in 2019 with some weird visuals to go along with each song. I also want to get to play more live shows!

 

Before we end the interview, are there any words of wisdom (advice) you can give about reaching your goals/dreams; and if there’s anything you would like to say to your supporters, please feel free to do so.

A: It sounds cheesy and cliche, but follow your instincts! No one knows you better than you, so try to find a balance between your own creative mind and others’ advice – I’m still working on this 🙂


Make sure to stay updated with Lila by following her on:


Make sure to follow OA on social media platforms: Instagram, Twitter, and Soundcloud to stay updated.

The New Faces of: R&B (2019 Version)

As a continuation of last year’s: The New Faces: R&B, I bring to you 3 artists I have come across within the last year. If you recall, in last year’s list, I included 3 artists: SiR, Phe, and Lolo Zouai; and if you paid any attention to R&B music last year, you would know that each of these individuals blossomed throughout the year. All original OA readers know this, but if you are new to the site, I have often said that R&B is the genre I hold dearest to me. Although the genre has had a resurgence in the last decade, in the last couple of months, these are some of the overlooked artists I hope will get some shine in 2019. For every artist, I have provided links to their music as well as their social media, so I hope it will influence you to check them out and hopefully you find some good music along the way!


 

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Casedi

Casedi (formally known as Cassidy) is an upcoming American R&B vocalist coming out of California. Since her musical debut in 2018, the singer-songwriter has released around 6 songs, with the latest, “You On You” released just last week. If you are a fan of musicians like H.E.R, Ella Mai, and Justine Skye – I would recommend checking out Casedi. Aside from music, she is also a public figure on YouTube, with over 45,000 subscribers and an abundance of content surrounding music (behind the scenes, covers, etc.) Make sure to check out her music whether it be on SoundCloud, Apple Music, or Spotify and be sure to follow her on Instagram and Facebook for updates.

 

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JNR. Williams
Although not much is known about Mr. Williams, it is known that he is an upcoming artist from London, England. His debut came at the end of 2018 with the release of “What A Difference”, a rendition of 50’s jazz vocalist, Dinah Washington  “What a Diff’rence a Day Makes”. Although he only has one song under his belt, I would suggest that if you listen to artists like Joy Crookes, Cosima, you will enjoy the upcoming artist. With news of him signing to the newly relaunched Artista Records, you can be sure to hear new music within the first quarter of the year but in the meantime, be sure to follow him on Instagram for updates.

 

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Symphoni Soto
Like Casedi, Symphoni Soto is another musician who found their core fan base through social media, specifically YouTube. With a career spanning almost a decade long, the R&B/Pop singer released her first project All I Know in September 2018. As of January 2019, (my) personal favorites off the project are “Don’t Feed My Ego” and “Feelings”. If you are interested in hearing the project, it can be found on both Apple Music and Spotify and be sure to follow her on Instagram for updates.


Honorable Mentions

  • Billie Bodega
  • Amaal Nuux
  • Tanerelle
  • Rimon
  • Mikhala Jene
  • Arzlee
  • Christian Kuria
  • Hanna Lashay

2019 / pt. III / Artists to Watch

To close the our first week, I have compiled a small list of Artists to Watch for the rest of the year. I have been keeping an eye of these artists and see potential for them to breakout within the year. If you recall, last year I mentioned artists like Rina Sawayama and Dounia, who both exploded on the music scene last year so hopefully we get the same luck with these candidates!


1. Isaac Dunbar

ATW, Issac Dunbar

Although he’s relatively new, Isaac Dunbar has already found moderate success with his songs “Freshman Year” & “Blonde”. At only 15 years old, the Barnstable native has found his niche in the industry, following the footsteps of indie pop artists like Billie Eilish and Bülow. His songs, which are more or less like the diary of someone raised in this social media era, are created in a way that (for the lack of a better word) document how he’s been dealing with growing up. Speaking on subjects such as high school, peer pressure, first heartbreaks, I think it’s only a matter of time before his music catches on.

 

2. Joy Crookes

ATW, Joy Crookes
Photographed by: Grace Rivera

 

As an English vocalist coming out of United Kingdom, I’m already prepared for sources to compare her to R&B vocalist Jorja Smith, luckily OA isn’t that source. Although she’s been active for around 5 years, the South London native, whose voice has been compared to the late Amy Winehouse, has been gaining traction overseas since her performance on COLORS in 2017. Listening to her delivery and cadence, you can tell that she’s an artist who’s practiced and mastered her sound. Throughout 2018, Crookes remained consistent releasing a 7-track ep named Influence in July and a single & visual for her latest song “Don’t Let Me Down” in November.

 

3. Lolo Zouaï

ATW, Lolo Z (by Sara Khalid)
Photographed by: Sara Khalid

If you are a regular OA reader, I’m sure that you already know know Lolo Zouai is. Since the start of the site, I’ve been an advocate for the French-American songstress. Most known for her song “High Highs to Low Lows” released in 2017, the singer/songwriter has been featured on sources like Complex and i-D for being an artist to watch among upcoming R&B singers. Outside of writing her own music, the lyricist who tends to write in both French & English, has penned for artists like H.E.R (she co-wrote “Still Down” off H.E.R’s Grammy nominated album H.E.R). I think she is rising at a gradual pace and hopefully with the amount of music she released in 2018 (Desert Rose, Challenge, …) we can prepare for a debut project within the first half of the year!


Make sure to follow OA on social media platforms: Instagram, Twitter, and Soundcloud to stay updated