There’s a new girl on the block coming out of the A, and her name is Alexis Ayaana.
Ayaana’s new buzz single “Balenciaga” has been featured on over 60 mixtapes and is getting radio play on Southeast radio stations like Streetz 94.5 and Hot 107.9. She also ended up victorious in the Atlanta Underground Music Awards, taking home the awards for Best Female Vocalist and Best Collaboration. During the past year, she performed at over 50 events throughout Atlanta, opening for T.I. and Rich Homie Quan.
To top it all off, Ayaana’s only 20 years old and is still enrolled in college. Below she tells us how she juggles her music career and school at the same time, plus touches on how her Afro-Latina roots influence her and her views on the state of R&B in 2016.
What draws you to calling yourself “urban pop” as opposed to simply pop or R&B?
“I use the term urban pop as opposed to R&B or pop because the elements of my music and the vibe can not be placed into either category solely. For example, ‘Balenciaga’ would probably never be categorized as R&B because it’s very uptempo with a hard beat and lyrics of Hip Hop coming out of Atlanta. I’m singing over it but it’s not a melodic love song, which most R&B songs are. My new single ‘You Mad’ has a pop, Cali type of feel but it can’t be categorized as just pop because of the same reasons. The songs I’m doing right now are very fun and clubby so if anything, it could be considered a mixture of both hence, urban pop.”
How do you view the state of traditional R&B in 2016?
“Although R&B will not be going away anytime soon, traditional R&B isn’t in the spotlight right now. Every genre of music has its wave. With this generation and the way people view relationships and everyone’s in the club scene, it’s not really a place for it to be as big as it used to be where it took over radio. Because of that people have their own sub categories of R&B and have created artists that understand and have adapted to the new R&B. Artists like Tory Lanez, The Weeknd, PartyNextDoor, Bryson Tiller, etc.
How do you juggle being an aspiring artist while also currently studying at university?
“It used to be very hard. I started actually performing and getting my music out there in 2014 so at that time I was in my second semester of Freshman year and going through an entire change. I started missing classes and assignments, so it forced me to go part-time for my sophomore year. I wouldn’t be graduating on time either so the best decision was to leave my university and take college online, which I started doing the beginning of this year. This way is more conducive with my schedule, less stressful and now I can finish on time by next year. Now I have all the time in the world to do things involving music without putting school to the side.”
Who are your biggest inspirations?
“My biggest inspirations would be Rihanna and Aaliyah. Rihanna is able to transcend into any genre and still be herself; it doesn’t seem forced. I want to be able to do that. Plus she’s a fashion icon and I’m big on fashion too, so I look up to her for that. Aaliyah was just so cool. I love her music, that’s the biggest thing, but how she comes off in her songs dancing and with swag, it was very effortless.”
How much do your Latina and West Indian roots influence you?
“My heritage influences my life as a whole. I grew up appreciating my heritage. Going to carnivals, listening to the music, eating the food and being a part of my Panamanian/Bajan culture period. I’m a first generation American, so my roots are still very prominent throughout my family and I’m proud of that. I am still from Atlanta though, so the music I’m making right now you can tell is Atlanta-influenced. I go to the clubs, listen to the radio and know what type of artists come out. I know what people like to hear. Also, what I like to hear. To have my roots be all through my music wouldn’t be the best thing yet until I get more established. I definitely want to incorporate my culture into my videos, dress, and music eventually.”
Do you have a dream collaborator (artist/producer)?
“I’m influenced by Rihanna, so of course I would love to do a song with her. Producing wise, I would really like to work with Timbaland. Honestly, I want to just have a main producer where working with them is effortless and we bring out the best work with each other. Someone I can count on to make something hot that people will like.”
What are your long term goals?
“My long term goals in this industry are to literally just to be in it long term. I don’t want to be a fleeting artist. This is something I’ve wanted since a young girl so my expectations are definitely not to be here one day and gone the next.”
Your track is called “Balenciaga.” Are you glorifying labels or is there a deeper message?
“Yes, my single is ‘Balenciaga.’ Off the top people do think my song is just about name brands. It’s not that. It’s really about holding your own and not needing to depend on someone to get what you want. You can buy the best brands on your own, you can take care of yourself and you don’t have to depend on anyone to get everything you need or want. I actually say ‘Balenciaga’ once in the song at the beginning. It’s not necessarily glorifying labels. I just thought it would be a cool name for the song.”