STRIKING CHORDS AND PULLING HEARTSTRINGS WITH AYSIA
Aysia is a singer-songwriter from the city of Jos. She comes from a large, loving character-driven family, which affected positively the way she turned out. She is also a food lover who loves to cook and try unfamiliar food while her other passion is dressmaking which she believes it is one of her many tools to success. Aysia writes all her songs and has co-produced most of them as she believes ‘two good heads are usually better than one. She also believes music is an all-encompassing personal expression that reflects intimately the essence of an artiste. Her professional career in music started when she travelled with some friends in 2004 to Abuja to launch the Impact Record Label. Since then she has worked with amazing producers such as Jeremiah Gyang, Hendrix, Cobhams and Gold-Lynx. She believes her music talent is a gift, which she did nothing to earn so it is simply a privilege to share it with the people she loves and the world at large. She finds it an honour to express her stories through songs and get audience listening ears.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Ulau Kimberly Matta. I am a singer-songwriter from Jos, Plateau State. I come from a very fun filled family of four brothers and three sisters. I love to cook and make dresses so it is safe to say music, fashion and food are my passion.
What’s is your course of study and how did you get involved with music? Is anyone in your family musically inclined?
I studied Zoology at the University of Jos and my music career started when some friends informed me about a record label starting in Abuja. We took a cab down there and my music career kicked off officially since then. Nobody in my family in into music professionally, they only sing as anyone else can.
My friends chose the name Aysia for me and it stuck. They said I could pass for a dark skinned distant relative of the Asians because of the texture of my hair (I was born with straight hair) and some facial features.
Why your genre of music and how has the acceptance been since it is not the typical Nigerian music? Who and what are your music influences and sources of inspiration?
My genre of music is folk rock and soul. I have observed my style of music in relation to some of the artistes I sound like and have similar writing patterns with, it seems to fall under these categories. My music has been accepted with mixed feelings. Prospective sponsors like it but encourage me to change my style of music or sing in Pidgin English if I want to appeal to the Nigerian market. Another group encouraged me to just do my thing and find my own niche. I am more with this second group of people. I do not believe in monotony or squeezing people in a box, I am a free spirit and I would do as my spirit directs me to. If we all sang and sounded alike, then there would be no need for the question “what genre of music do you sing?” because we would only have one genre of music. I want and hope to carve out my niche market both home and abroad and that is more than good enough for me. My music influences so far have been The Corrs, Cranberries, Dido, Tracy Chapman, Sting, Celine, Cold Play and Adele.
This year, after a hiatus you have performed live at several events. What was your experience after your return to the stage? Do you have plans for participation at more concerts and have you opened any shows for established musicians?
I spent a good number of years just writing songs and laying low because I wanted to build myself to a level I felt was good enough first. However, I realized that though my intentions are good, the only place I could truly better myself is live on stage, making all my mistakes and learning from them, so I decided to perform at a couple of events here and there. I performed for a Christmas jazz concert last year and between then and now, I have performed at about four Freedom hall events. I also performed at a welcome dinner party for the new British Council country manager and I have been interviewed on a BBC programme called Naija talk your own. I hope to organize my own concerts eventually but for now, I would perform at a few shows.
I have not opened for any established musician yet but would like to open for TuBaba Idibia. Internationally, I would like to open for any of the artistes I mentioned earlier. I am yet to have any such gigs but that won’t be long now hopefully.
Are earnings from performances here in Nigeria worthwhile or do you just perform for the love of music?
Earnings for an established Nigerian artiste are quite good but the reverse is the case for an upcoming artist. There is always an air of “I am doing you a huge favour by bringing you on the show”. I have received some money for my performances but certainly nothing worth writing home about. I do music for the love of it and because it flows freely from within me. I have it at the back of my mind that it can easily generate good money, which would be awesome. While I’m at it however, if I never do, there would be no love lost at all.
What challenges have you or do you face as a young female, self managed musician?
Challenges faced as a single, self-managed female artiste are enough to weigh anyone down and discourage one from her dreams. Sometimes it gets to me but I am learning to develop a thick skin and keep on moving until I crawl, hop, jog or eventually fly across the finish line!
Are you fully working in the music industry or do you have a 9-5 job to fall back on?
I have tried a couple of 9 – 5 jobs but I have not had the job satisfaction my heart desires. I have exhibited signs of entrepreneurship from an early age so I decided to go down the arduous route of becoming an entrepreneur. I am currently setting up a clothing line called Black Bear Wears in Abuja. I want to spend the rest of my life doing only the things I love, so fashion would fund music and vice versa.
You have some singles, what inspired you to write them and who produced them?
I have singles that have not yet been released like Fix me up and An encounter. I draw my inspiration from real life situations, both personal and from my environment. Sometimes I get rewarded with a song from above after I grudgingly go through the mundane process of practising on my guitar, I guess it is a way of my daddy in heaven encouraging me to be the best I can be.
Is the acoustic guitar the only instrument you play and how has that helped your music?
The acoustic guitar is the only instrument I play though I would love to learn the violin or the cello. It has been a plus for me as I do not have to depend on sound tracks for my live performances but I just pick up my guitar and play. It however comes with its own pressures as people automatically seem to freeze or hold their breath the moment a lady stands in front of them with a guitar, you can almost hear them asking you ‘Are you sure you can play this thing’?, so that sometimes adds to my nerves.
Do you have any plans of collaborating with other local or international rock artistes?
I would love to write a song with Coldplay. I love how they compose music, everything flows so effortlessly together.
You are currently in the studio working on your first album. Who is producing it and when are we to expect it?
I am currently working with Goldlynx Multimedia Entertainment on my album. We started working on it last year but took a little break since the start of this year. We hope to resume work next month and hopefully complete it before the year runs out. I have on the album some songs produced by Cobhams Asuquo as well.
I may not have the right answer to that but I could attempt the question by saying our immediate environment must have played a major role. I had so much fun growing up as a child that I cannot separate it from who I have turned out to be. We had tons of picnics, bonfires, pool parties, hiking trips and so on. Not to mention the hours travelling on the road of gazing in silence upon the beautiful plains of the Plateau. So I guess, being constantly exposed to nature and that fresh natural air had a way of stirring up some creative juices, and of course all that partying led to miming songs, creating dance groups and lots of free style singing and rapping. Who knows there may just be a secret potion somewhere in that ATAMOSPHIYA! (laughs!)
What’s your sense of style?
Anything that makes me look good. Casual chic! I like big flared uneven skirts, carrot pants and small tops, as well as rugged jeans. I also love shoes and mix matching odd colours and prints.
January 18, 2019
December 31, 2018