Kickback: With AYL∅

By Adedayo Laketu

When it comes to neo-soul fusion in African, there is one name that comes to mind; AYLØ. Our Kickback session featured the young Nigerian who has shifted the paradigms of music being made by young artists in Africa and has has created his own turf. From his first project Fusion to his recent and first EP Honest Conversations, AYLØ shares his beliefs, dreams and goals with us


Who is AYLØ? What’s the vision ? What’s the brand ? What’s the vessel of your music ?

Rahh, Conceptual questions.
Im a soul fusionist, I believe music has a soul to it. I believe we as souls connect through music.
Ummm… vision, be more experimental.. less confined to the stereotypical sounds. Enlighten the world and ultimately pave the way for young creatives after me who feel crippled by the industry, And the typical Nigerian reception of alternative types of music. Feed the conversation that we can all have that individuality, that we can be colorful And that different is beautiful, strange is interesting.
The brand, can’t tell you.
I’m an evolving construct, Its ok not to know what you are yet. People always want everything packaged. Packaging helps.
But sometimes we lose the authenticity of our beings, cause we’ve branded. I want to be branded a free spirit, sonically.
The fact that each song, each verse can be entirely different from the last and yet its still me. That versatility, the unexpected creation, that’s my daily aim.
To deconstruct the formulas weve had for time, To defy expectations cause there should be no expectations. There’s just Art, fluidity.
What is a Soul-Fusion artist in relation to your sound as art, the new age and you being an African with a global reach ?

Well, soul as a genre as  a classic rendition of sound (old school stuff). I feel if have a more musical thing to it.

The way the chords are played, the transitions, as opposed to the three chord and two drum
Loop. That characterizes a lot of other genres.
I’ve always found those more appealing, I mean my dad used to play jazz records growing up.
My mum would play gospel, my uncle would play Tupac, MJ, Kool And the gang.
I’ve just always heard music from young, and although obbvvsss i used to listen to a lot of commercial records on the radio, my parents would always switch it and proceed to encourage me to listen to other stuff. I didn’t care then. I loved Chris Brown and the rest of them. So that’s what I also made in my earlier years. It wasn’t actually until I moved out of Nigeria to America that I started getting to know other types of music for myself.
It was no longer what my parents were playing. Yet I found that listening to new stuff like house music and even bashment, my mind started opening in terms of what elements I’d want to add to my music.
Still creating, still churning, I moved to U.K and. met some white people who put me on some rock. Met mandem and they put me on grime. Met other people they put me on some alternate stuff.
So, this whole alt-soul-synthesis, Is a culmination of evveerrryyyy experience I’ve had musically.
Thus far, I expect this to grow in its own complexities with time.
what is a soul fusionist? An architect of sound. In art, each sound is a color, each  instrument is a pencil or a paint brush, there’s no one way to create.
(I hope I’m not blabbing..)
I’m creating to inform the world its not just afrobeats coming out of Nigeria. I mean, Fela studied classical music, that’s what stemmed his sounds. If we consider him so greaaatt, why cant we take a hint and study the rest of the sonic spectrum, instead of what we do now?
The new age I think represents this shift. Honestly, I wasn’t as concerned with the movement because, I didn’t know it existed at first. I was just doing me.
We somehow kept finding ourselves. We might not agree on a lot of things ( aka they might not agree with me). Most think I’m a snob, but I like what I like and I create what I like. I don’t have to like your stuff, because you claim to be a new age artist even if the rest of the world enjoys it.
Being a free spirit how does this help you create ?
Umm, in terms of creating… literary, I f*ck around. That’s my process. I write wherever, about whatever. My topics stem from my inner emotions, if I’m sad af.. you’re gonna get a sad song. I find it hard to create sometimes. I never want to make the same thing twice.
The vessel is the entire concept behind your music, how did you find out music was your forte? What informs the sound of your art?
Umm…music is the only thing I’ve ever enjoyed so much. I’d write in every class since JSS 1. I’d have my earphones in 24/7 during the holidays. I’d stay up till 9 am making beats. Couldn’t do this for anything else.
Plus, I was always in trouble growing up.
Or like I had no friends. Music and God are my first two best friends. I know He gave me this talent to survive on in my earlier years of loneliness and I know He has sustained this interest thus far to allow me thrive and support my family. As a first son of my parents, the pressure is immense. The disdain and lack of confidence about my career choice and sound choice is also quite large. What’s even larger are my own fears that my people wont accept me for who I am and who I’ll become, but I know I serve a higher purpose in the grand Scheme of events yet to be known. I wake up every day with music on my mind, I put the work in and I thank my creator.
Ohh.. lastly .. I was in choir for like forever.
That’s what made me harness and understand the spirituality of music.
I say these things and people are like, “Ppff.. abeg.. all na yanz” , but I remember going to my schools chapel at any opportunity to sit in quiet and write, that same chapel my bros and I formed our first group in like 2007/08.
No one can convince me otherwise that my sound did not come from heaven, and that my art isn’t blessed.
You’re quite spiritual with your views on sound and life, do you feel these values are passed through in your sound giving the listener an experience that brings them closer to God ?

Maybe not yet, I have a song called “salvation” that will be on my next project, that’s a start.

But as for having an experience, I hope I give my listeners that and I hope people relate to my music the way I relate to it. Writing is therapeutic, so is listening but it all depends on the listener. I can’t be mad if people don’t get what I’m aiming at. I mean look at “Fusion”. I specifically spoke about saturation and sounding the same only  for people to ask why I didn’t have “fusion vibes” on the project.
Aka … they might have enjoyed the music, but the message didn’t resonate, all these things take time.

 How does the new age help shape the youth in feeling free enough to express themselves as the art of New Age music is about freedom ?

I feel like the new age makes people more comfortable with creating.
Its like this; if you want to change something you have to first start a conversation then act upon the conversation before results are seen.
I feel like we are somewhere between the conversations and the actions.
The results are yet to be seen, probably won’t see those for the next 5-10 yrs.
We will see results. “THOUGHTS BECOME THINGS”. Laws of attraction.
What is New Age music of Africa to you and how do you feel our new sound can help shape the global values of music around the world ?

The new age is like Family. I might get along with everyone, but I respect and I’m inspired by them. I hope we learn from each other, because no man is an island. Global values of music around the world? If I knew this, I’ll be famous already. These are questions I can only answer in time, as I progress in my art.

Who knows, I might become an activist like Fela. Myopia, We cant see everything. There’s too much to be seen quantifying an outreach is limiting.
As African sounds become more popular globally, what’s your view on this as an artist with aims of having a global reach ?
 It’s dope. Music is eclectic.
People actually having the attention span to listen beyond thirty seconds. Especially when a bunch of my songs don’t have choruses.
Give us a view into your mind when making your debut tape which got a positive reaction from the new age fans ?
 Honest Conversations.
first I’m conversing with myself about my dreams, my fears, hopes & thoughts.

Then I’m conversing with others. AKA the features on the project, and I’m allowing them converse with me, or with themselves and giving them that space to be themselves. The aim of the project tonality wise was like starting a dish; you have the ingredients, cut the onions in blend the tomatoes. With each stage having more than the last (cumulatively), Until you have this big bubbling pot of chicken stew (aka circles).

Each stage, each element is as important making sure you never add too much, then letting it cool off at the end so the spices can settle ( that’s the bass guitar ending the project).
That was the idea, the process.
I made it over a span of three years, taking my time.
I worked on over hundreds of songs till I found the right dish.
I know some people think it was rushed. Maybe  the final stages, because people are seated at the table waiting to eat and I hadn’t even set the cutlery. But I took my time to cook and I had excellent help from each person who worked on the project.
As the platforms for Africa are growing to hold their own, what do you feel needs to be done to bring good structures such as financing and opportunities for the new age?
Royalty collection companies.
A deeper sense of nationalism amongst listeners who would pay money to see international acts, but want us to perform for pennies.
There’s a colonial mindset here, we need to be educated more, we need to value ourselves more. The state of the music appreciation and growth will be a reflection of our self appreciation as Africans.
I feel it goes hand in hand; The economy, the music, the lifestyle, the music. There has to be a 100 percentage growth in everything.
It’s like going to the gym and work on your chest only, not your abs or legs. Fam that’s where we are at the moment; A caricature of where we should be.
How do you want to help influence the kids to have hope?
 Am I?  I’m just doing me unapologetically.
Not really a role model to follow cause I’m plagued with vices. But I’m hoping my music does what my personality doesn’t at the moment.
 I do want to be more involved anyway. I guess Uni has held me back because I dont have time to do much else. When I graduate though, I’d see. I have a song called “Wonder” that’s a political one ( my best is still unreleased ). I don’t want to put that out until i know how to.
I don’t know how to get it to have an impact yet.

 What do you seek the most in your music?

To create, simple. Unhinged, just create. Whatever comes from within. Whaatteeeevverrrr it might be

Listen to AYL∅’s Honest Conversations:

Adedayo Laketu is the co-founder/creative inventor of Baroque Age,
an innovative, conscious reality company based in Nigeria.
The 22 year old believes in the power of the youth
and stays constantly motivating.
He loves music and arts and hates dodo.

Benewaah is the lead curator and editor at Harmattan Rain. Her love for music is closely rivaled by her love for plantain.