Irish musician Ayala has had a busy 2015, and judging by the sound of her new album ‘This Year’, 2016 is set to become even busier. Not just a talented singer, blessed with a powerful yet delicate voice, Ayala is a songwriter, producer, and even finds time to present her own live TV music show. As she says herself “self-sufficiency in artists is becoming more and more necessary” – if that’s the case, she’s got everything covered. We chat to Ayala about her new album, and we give you the chance to win a signed copy of her new album, a branded tote bag AND two gig tickets for her 2016 tour!
How long have you been making music?
Honestly, my entire life. My mum had me in violin lessons from age 2 and I was constantly making up little songs about whatever I was doing at the time!
Tell us about your musical influences.
They are many – broad and ever expanding! I have recently been making lots of trips over to Mexico which I find to be a very creative and inspiring country, and I feel like some Mexican traditional music is even seeping its way in there now. I love a Latin American artist that I discovered this year called Jorge Drexler, I have his album on repeat at the moment. But when I was younger I was very influenced by all the jazz greats like Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday and Nina Simone. I also loved classic Soul, Blues, Rock, Folk and listened to everything from Stevie Wonder to Tracy Chapman, Joni Mitchell, through to The Carpenters and everything in between. Anything I could get my hands on! I think there’s a lot of fantastic pop stuff around at the moment, and a huge amount of it coming from the UK and Ireland I must add. It’s such a hard question because I love ALL good music – I think that’s why I started my own TV show, so I can discover and promote loads of different music in all different genres that I love, and now I’m just constantly inspired!
Tell us about The Ayala Show – how did that come about?
The Ayala Show is a live music TV show that I present and produce with my brother who is the Director. It airs on IRISH TV every Friday at 10pm and Sunday at 5.30pm, apart from our Christmas double special which will be on 26th Dec at 11pm (IRISH TV can be found on SKY 191 as well as a few other broadcast platforms, or streamed online). How it came about is kind of an old school story really. I approached the channel with my music video for ‘This Year’ that my Filmmaker brother (Finnian Moore) and I made together in Ireland, wondering if they would play it. We got chatting in good Irish style with Managing Director Mairead, and for both of us, I guess it just seemed to be the obvious thing to do! Making the TV show is a job that nobody else could do because it’s very much linked in with who I am, who I know, where I’m based in Battersea Park Studios (aka Sphere) in London and with my own journey as a recording artist. I am Irish but I live in central London, and I luckily know a lot of great talent on the scene here – most of the acts get booked through relationships that we have. I love travelling and discovering music further afield too, so the travel features we do are perfect for that.
Where has been your favourite place and venue to perform in?
All of them. But one of the best gigs has to be when Paul McCartney hand picked a band I was in a few years back to play party tunes at his Christmas party. He got up on stage with us, put his arm around me and we rocked out singing harmonies together with the band for three whole magical songs. EPIC! I do love festival gigs too.
What are you aiming towards musically?
I love the writing process, I love recording and I love performing, so I’m really excited to get on the road, promote my new album and start getting ready for the next one straight away. I’m constantly growing and changing as a musician and playing with new sounds and ideas.
Tell us about your creative process – are you heavily involved in the album artwork and music videos?
I love collaborating with others and creativity is always more fun shared, but when it comes to my music and business, I’m always heavily involved in everything. I think it’s the way the modern day industry is going actually – that self-sufficiency in artists is becoming more and more necessary, but quite aside from that I really enjoy the other creative elements involved in being a recording artist. I had a really clear idea of what I wanted my album artwork to look like for example, and I really enjoy dreaming up the new videos along with the Director. I also love fashion so I enjoy getting involved in my own styling too.
Tell us about your upcoming music and projects you are working on?
So I’ve just released my brand new album entitled ‘This Year’ which I’m really excited about! I’m looking forward to promoting that. I’m self releasing it on my new record label I have set up for that purpose which is a new and exciting journey. I’ve been SO busy making The Ayala Show and finishing my album that I haven’t had a chance to do many gigs in the last few months, but I’m looking forward to taking more gigs in the New Year. I have been writing songs for other artists recently a lot too which I also enjoy and also a few collaborations on the horizon. I recently recorded a duet with the great Gilbert O’Sullivan on his new album on a song called ‘I Guess I’ll Always Love You’, which was a great privilege. I think he’s one of the best songwriters I have ever heard, he is a true craftsman. The song will be properly released in the new year though it can be found on iTunes already. We will also be cracking on with Series Two of The Ayala Show which is exciting. We have some incredible acts lined up!
What advice would you give to fellow bands starting out in the music industry?
I honestly think that the most important thing is to be empowered. I really don’t think that a record deal is the Holy Grail at all anymore and in fact in can work out so much better in the long run if you self-release. It feels a bit daunting when you start out on your own and have so much to figure out, and it might take some investment from your pocket to begin with to get some good recordings of your songs and certainly a lot of sweat and tears and hard work! But there are so many great online platforms to help with the promotions and we are in a time where you just need to think outside the box. Also I think it’s clever to be in a band as opposed to being a solo artist, simply because there are more hands on deck to help get things done. I have a really wonderful team around me, but there’s definitely more work load when you are a solo artist.
Who are your ones to watch in the music industry?
We’ve had some really killer acts on our show this series that I thoroughly recommend checking out such as Corey Fox-Fardell, Leddra Chapman, Mama’s Gun, Stephanie O, Nova Twins, Nadine… just all of our guests really! Have a look at The Ayala Show’s YouTube channel to see LOADS of amazing talent to watch.
And finally, what’s your favourite Madonna song?
Well obviously there are so many classics that I adore, but actually I think my favourite Madonna track is This Used To Be My Playground from the album Something To Remember.