- Words Matilda Carnall
Rising R&B star Aáyanna discusses supporting Emotional Oranges on their sold-out tour, ASMR internet obsessions and brand new single, “Won’t Cry”.
Blending seductive lyrics with heavenly vocals, up-and-coming musician Aáyanna is forging her own sound. She’s mastered the ability to spin a traditional R&B track on its head and adds further seasoning with her well-honed songwriting talent. And her latest offering, “Won’t Cry” is a testament to that. It’s a comforting listen that, despite its gut-wrenching lyrics, retains all the best bits of a soothing R&B classic.
The Chicago-born-and-raised artist discovered her passion for writing as a youngster, using it as an outlet from the age of seven. Aged nine, she recorded her first track with her dad’s travel set up and, from there, her talent only grew. By her mid-teens, she was ready to release her first song and began performing at festivals, parties, bars – or anywhere she could wangle her way into.
One fateful festival she attended would be where she met producer Juberlee, who’s previously worked with Playboi Carti and Latto, among others. Teaming up with Juberlee gave her the opportunity to experiment outside of the traditional makings of an R&B track, honing her sound into something that drifted between genres while retaining all the richness of rhythm and blues. And by 2021, with frequent releases and quickly gaining traction, her single “Let Me Find Out” caught the attention of Avant Garden who signed her to a record deal.
Following her recent sold-out tour with Emotional Oranges, we caught up with Aayanna to discuss all from her weirdest internet obsession, to why Portland’s her favourite city right now.
It was surreal. I grew up really shy and winning over a crowd who had no idea who I was sounded really intimidating to me at first, but I quickly grew to love it. I learned a lot about myself, and I grew bonds with people that I’m really blessed to have.
My approach is to make my set as interactive as possible. I don’t wanna be a spectacle, I want to be an experience. I want the audience to leave feeling connected to not only my music, but who I am and how I made them feel.
I loved Portland, I can’t wait to go back. The people were so warm and authentic, and I had some really good food there. It’s a gem, I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did.
The idea originated from the cover we took and how much meaning it had behind it. My mom is someone I call about any and everything; the women in those conversations have all been a shoulder for me to cry on. Navigating love can be so complex, and I thought it’d be a special moment to have those women answer the questions that I wasn’t able to get the answers to in “Won’t Cry”.
Bringing it to life was much easier than I expected, there were a few conflicting schedules but in the end everyone showed up for me and I couldn’t be more grateful.
I want them to feel seen and find some sort of closure through the conversations if they relate.
Juberlee can be very experimental and I love that about him. It’s hard for me to make a song if the production doesn’t inspire me, and for a long time, he was the only producer I knew who could.
I feel the most inspired to make music where I’m most comfortable. Because I like to take R&B out of its comfort zone, I like to be in mine when I make it. I need a safe space to be able to try things without judgment.
I’ve been really into watching this guy on TikTok make ASMT card videos. There’s also this girl who makes mini scrapbook pages, and between the two of them, I’m really fighting the urge to spend money on supplies that I’ll probably never use.
Absolutely. It’s the year of Aáyanna!