Ayanda Jiya – my music comes from the soul
01 January 1970
On this episode of Old Mutual Live Music, we catch up with South African artist Ayanda Jiya. This up and coming female artist is starting to enchant the industry. Hear where it all began for Ayanda, whose life experiences are really felt through her music.
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Welcome to Old Mutual Live radio, my name is Aphiwe Manono and as usual we’re bringing you South African artists that are making a mark. Today we are joined by Ayanda Jiya who is a SAMA nominated vocalist. Hello Ayanda and welcome to Old Mutual Radio.
Ayanda Jiya: Thank you so much, good to be here.
AN: So let’s start from where it all began, you are a girl from the North West, am I correct?
AJ: Yes that’s true. Yes.
AN: And how did you, what was it like growing up for you and just tell us the story of Ayanda Jiyan as a young girl growing up in her home.
I grew up around music
AJ: Okay so growing up at home was very interesting. I mean I grew up in a very musical home, both parents love music. My mom is more of the classical kind, so the singing comes from her. When it came to my father, my father loves jazz and kwaito. So was very versatile when it comes to genres at home, so that is the kind of household I came, I was brought up in. Very spiritual as well, so to us at home, you know, praying together, the family singing together, everything. I remember at 6 o’clock before we got ready for school, you know, our parents would wake up and wake us up and we would go to the living room and we would say a family prayer together before we start our day. So that is the kind of environment I grew up in.
So it was very funny, we laughed a lot, I mean my parents are, you know, just clowns. So we used to clown a lot growing up so I think also that also kind of built up into my character as the kind of person I am now. You know I don’t, I am not really necessarily always upset or sad, you know. There is always something funny about any situation I’m in. So that is what keeps me going and I really appreciate that, you know, for teaching me that about life. That you know you can’t really take everything seriously. You know, even in your hardships you need to focus on what is it that you need to do. But also don’t ever forget to smile and laugh about whatever it is that you are going through. It really helps, you know, get over things that are happening in your life. So that is how I grew up, that is the kind of household I was brought up in.
AN: That sounds like a very, you know, cosy household with both parents and you mentioned that your mother was a singer. Is this where your passion for singing came about?
Love for singing came from my mother
AJ: Definitely. I mean my mom, you know, well classically, she used to sing opera a lot, classic. She used to be in choirs as well. So that is where it call came from. I mean I was very fascinated with her practicing for choir. I would sit there with her and listen, you know. I think that is where my love for music started, you know, at a young age. So from then on I think I actually, you know, grew into finding myself and what it is that I really am comfortable in when it came to music and I think the influences also played a big role.
I mean a lot of the music that was played at home, you know, despite the fact that we were spiritual, you know, there was always you know, soul music that was playing. You know your jazz, so I grew up listening to a lot of that influence and I think that is where it all came from in terms of me wanting to do music. I decided this is what I wanted to do and this is the kind of genre I wanted to explore. So I think that is where it all came from when it comes to, you know, me now as an individual and me singing with the kind of genre that I sing. It became comfortable for me because the environment, you know, accommodated me to be. So I think that is where it all comes from. Yeah.
AN: Now Ayanda, if you haven’t heard of Ayanda Jiyan, you are forgiven because she was fairly new to the music industry. But before we get into that, Ayanda, you studied, was it Graphic Design?
From graphic design to music
AJ: Yes I studied Graphic Design at T.U.T. Well I enjoyed it, and I never really knew where it was going to take me because passionately, I wasn’t really, you know, a designer per se but I was very interested in it. Me, well I really wanted to do music but you know how parents are, you have to study first. You know have something to fall back on, should what it is that you want to do, does not really work out for you.
So I then went to school and I studied Graphic Design because I had an interest in it and I wanted to know more about it. I enjoyed it a lot and funny enough it actually helps me now in my music industry, in my music career to actually work around the things that I need. You know in terms of my marketing lines and whatever it is that I need to do. I can get to do them myself so I am actually grateful that I actually studied Graphic Design.
AN: Fast forward, a couple of years later, you have studied your Graphic Design and you decided, no, I am done with this. I want to pursue a career in music. What was that, what did that journey entail? Just finding your feet and eventually saying okay, this is, I know for sure what I want to do.
It is not an easy journey into music
AJ: It wasn’t really an easy one, I will tell you Aphiwe it was so difficult because I did not know where to start. I mean I did not have any form of support in sense of where do I start looking in order for me to actually get into the industry. Especially if you are a new comer in the industry, it is very hard for you to have anyone pay attention to you and what is it that you do. You have to be some kind of unique and special in order for you to grasp everyone’s attention.
So for me those were like the hard things that I had to go through you know, facing, you know, a lot of hardships. Getting myself to network, networking rather with other artists in order for me to get that platform to actually show what is it that I have. It was not very easy but I appreciate the support that I got from my family because that is the one thing that I needed the most, you know. When you have your family having your back then it is great.
So that for me was the challenge and then eventually I met with, you know, people that actually saw potential in me and helped me throughout getting me into the industry. It has been a very rocky road and it has been worth it. I mean I must really say because here I am now and I am living, you know, my dream. Doing what it is I love doing and everything is just great, you know. So I am enjoying it, I am enjoying it very much.
AN: You released your EP Very Intimate Conversations where you had beautiful songs like Go Girl and When Love Finds You. I must commend you Ayanda, you sound very mature in your music. A lot of people have compared you to the likes of Destiny’s Child which is awkward because they were a group. But I mean that just goes to show your melodies and how you, your sound and how you have crafted your sound. What is your inspiration behind the music you do, and how do you get it to sound like it does?
Life experiences helped craft my music
AJ: I think it is also life. You know things that I have gone through as a person. I feel like, you know, what you go through in life is also, you know, a lesson. So I see those things as part of why I write and why it is I sing this way, because I channel them into my music. So I appreciate the lessons that I have learned. Also because I grew up listening to all these kinds of music. I grew up in a time where R ’n B was the biggest thing you know. So I grew up listening to a lot of that as well and I felt very comfortable with that sound.
So I really appreciate the fact that I grew up, I was, I appreciate the fact that I, you know, listened to all of that and it actually shared a lot of inspiration in my own music per se. Because me as a song writer, you know, you write about everything. You write about whatever it is that you are going through, you write about another person’s situation and you make it your own; in order for you to be able to channel all of those energies within your sound. So those are the other things that I looked into as a song writer and as an artist as a whole.
AN: Now you speak about growing up in a time where R ’n B was huge, and I mean, in South Africa, we don’t really have a lot of that, you know, R ’n B specific music. So there was T.K. who had more of an influence in R ’n B but who else did you grow up listening to that you thought, you know what, one day I want to grow up and make music like this.
The artists that inspired me
AJ: Well like I said, my parents were very soulful, very jazzy and very classical. When it came to soul music, we listened to like, things like Peabo Bryson, you know, I listened to Luthor Vandross, I listened to a lot of Nathan Bulu. I mean I grew up in that environment where, you know, song writing had content. So for me it was very important that I would listen to a song and it had to make me feel some type of way, you know. It had to speak to me or convict me in a certain way and that is the kind of music that made me feel that, should I ever start doing music, I need to make music that is going to speak to the soul.
Just as they have done because to me those lives like Hugh Masekela, they had so much content within their music. It made you think, it made you want to change, you know, a certain, like your environment. It made me want to change something about the situation that you were in. So that is what drove me to write the music the way I do now. Very inspiring, something that would actually trigger a certain emotion within you. That is the kind of music I grew up listening to and that is the kind of music I want to continue making.