- Words Cal McIntyre
Say hello to the girl who doesn't want your flowers, she prefers to bloom with love and tenderness. Off the back of her cinematic visuals for "Flowers", we get to grips with the incomparable iyla!
If you’re new to iyla, then allow us to introduce you to her greatness. Arriving with a bang in the form of the dreamy R&B track “Juice” it was pretty evident that iyla knew exactly who she was, and the art she wanted to create.
What’s so refreshing about the world iyla has already established is her ability to present to the audience a glimmering and glittery universe that has punches and hidden meanings within the lyrics. It’s clear iyla knows what she stands for, and more importantly, knows that she has a gorgeous voice to promote her message. Evidently, what is now deemed as the “iyla universe” is one full of high-contrast hues and blinding aesthetics that harken back to the noughties. However, it’s up to the audience to find the hidden messages within these clues iyla leaves for us.
“Juice” has already garnered over 4.5 million views, and it seems iyla has no plan of slowing down anytime soon. On “Flowers”, iyla and Artist Director Embryo tackle the tropes and stereotypes of females in relationships – the idea that women can be bought over with materialistic items, and that no matter how much you can mess up in a relationship, if you buy them flowers then it’s fine. So, what’s iyla’s response to this? “Fuck flowers”. Watching the shimmering video details the battle between the boundaries of love and respect. Akin to “Alice In Wonderland” and Gwen Stefani’s early work, iyla shrinks and gets trapped the more flowers that consume her. On the flipside, honest vulnerability and support nurture her – resulting in her own personal growth. A piece of advice we can take something from all the while dancing to it. What more do you need from a track and visual?
Hailing from the dreamland that is L.A., iyla has always had creative roots within her being. With her mother working in wardrobe and design and her father as a choir director in a church, it’s easy to see how these two worlds combined to make up iyla. Looking at iyla, it can come as a little surprise when her rich and soulful voice leaves her lips that has years of maturity and emotion behind it. Inspired by the female powerhouses of R&B – Destiny’s Child, Brandy and Aaliyah to name just a few, iyla reveals “It’s not something I’m trying to be; it’s just who I am, and I can’t imagine being anything else.” To us, it’s clear that iyla is doing exactly that – following her own intuition and voice whilst making music that moves people.
This autumn will see iyla’s second EP come to fruition – a melting pot of pop, jazz and R&B with activism being the thread that ties it all together. It’s important to have a young artist trust in their voice, and more importantly, using it to as a platform to speak out on the issues that are plaguing the world today. What’s even better, the music can make you laugh, dance, cry and simply feel. Speaking on her motivation to use her powerful voice, iyla revealed “why have a voice and a platform if you’re not encouraging people to accept and love another?” she says. “Why would you do this and not try to make a positive change?”
We could be here all day praising iyla – but instead, we will just let you enter iyla’s universe below with her exclusive interview where you can get to know the girl done good yourself. And remember, what do we say to people who try to make you forget their shitty behaviour with flowers? “Fuck flowers!”.
Hi, iyla! First off – how are you?
Hi! I’m great. The last couple of days have been overwhelmingly special. The response I’ve received after just releasing “Flowers” has me feeling very grateful and blessed.
You’ve had a pretty huge year so far! How does it feel to have ‘Flowers’ out in the world?
I’m so happy to have “Flowers” out! It has been such an exciting/life-changing year, and I could not wait for everyone to see “Flowers.”
The video for ‘Flowers’ is insane! Talk to us about how the concept of the video came to you?
Thank you! With each video I put out, my creative director Embryo and I share concepts with each other, and together we put together a visual story to compliment the music that Kadis and I create. Throughout the video, there are an overwhelming amount of flowers being given to me when really I just want love and honesty. My whole world turns into flowers. My stylist Brookelyn and my makeup and hairstylist Jill always add to the avant-garde visual storytelling. We also included this Alice In Wonderland inspired theme, that when I’m given material items (like flowers and chocolate), I shrink, but when I’m given love and affection, I grow. Like every visual piece I put out, I ultimately want the viewer to decide what it means to them.
What was it like to see ‘Flowers’ playing in Times Square?
When I saw “Flowers” playing on the MTV Times Square billboard I had no words… it’s one of those moments that I will remember for the rest of my life. A complete dream come true.
What was it like working with Embryo on the video?
Working with Embryo is always inspiring for me. We’re great at brainstorming together, and coming up with ideas we both love. We have a great time creating, and time and time again he outdoes himself. His mind is truly incredible.
What else inspired the video for you? Any other music videos or films that you had watched?
The song, both musically and lyrically, is always at the core of the inspiration for the video. Often, we’re inspired by films as well. One of my favourite films is ‘Marie Antoinette’ (directed by Sofia Coppola). I love the avant-garde yet charming pastel aesthetic. The dreamy and eccentric ‘Alice In Wonderland’ was definitely an influence to us. Embryo also introduced me to the film ‘Sleeping Beauty’ (starring Emily Browning) which we were inspired by as well.
What is your creative process like when it comes to making your art?
My art is how I tell my story, and it’s how I connect to others. It’s important for me to spark important conversations, and constantly make people think. From music to visuals, my artistic expression starts with where my heart and soul are in the moment.
If you had to describe yourself in three words to someone who may not know you yet, what would you say?
Honest, artistic, and… funny. Lol
Is ‘Flowers’ just a sneak peek of what’s next to come?
Definitely. I can’t wait to release what I’ve been working on. I want my music and my music videos to grow and evolve (as I do).
Any secrets that you can give away about what to expect next?
My amazing longtime producer Kadis, and I, and have been in the studio non-stop working on new music and concepts. There will be music out this year. I promise!
What does it feel like for you when you perform on stage?
Performing is the best feeling in the world for me. As an artist you put so much energy and heart into what you create. So getting to get some of that energy back from an audience is just a really rewarding feeling.
What’s one or two albums that define you as a person?
That’s hard… but if I had to pick two albums, I would say India Arie’s “Acoustic Soul” and George Michael’s “Listen Without Prejudice.” Those both feel like the soundtrack to my childhood, yet as I get older I connect to them even more.
If you could say one thing to your younger self, what would it be?
I would tell myself that it’s okay to feel different, and that one day, you will love and appreciate what makes you different. That it will all be worth it. (I still have to remind myself of this constantly by the way. I think we all do.)
What is one artist you would love to collaborate with?
Frank Ocean, Joyner Lucas, Kehlani! I can’t name just one… lol.
How do you keep yourself inspired within music, fashion and art?
Music, fashion, and visuals are all under one umbrella of art for me. I’m inspired by the world around me, every day. I like to tell my story and the story of people close to me. Right now I’m inspired by love, by pain, by the changing of seasons, by my family, my friends, and my supporters.
If we are to have this conversation again in one year – what would you like to have achieved?
I would love to have a body of work out that inspires people to love themselves, and to be more open-minded to loving each other (in whatever way that may be.) I want to grow and expand on my music, my visuals, my fashion, my activism, and beyond! I see some dope collaborations in my future too.