Bajan artist and songwriter Ayoni joins Stim
Born in Barbados but now splitting her time between LA and London, Ayoni grew up bouncing around Singapore, Indonesia and the Americas – something she frequently draws on to guide her musical journey. After building a fanbase with the release of her acclaimed debut project Iridescent she is now in the limelight with her new EP The Vision. On a zoom-call with Ayoni, currently in LA, we got the chance to welcome her to Stim.
Welcome to Stim, Ayoni!
Do you have any ties or connections to Sweden?
– Most of my exposure to Stim and the Swedish music industry has been through Hampus, my manager. When I first moved out to LA I worked for a Swedish record label; TEN Music Group, that was instrumental in exposing me to studios and working as a writer. I had just come out here, I was 18 years old and had no real idea about how any of it worked and they gave me a space where I could grow into myself and experiment. They also helped to set up some sessions that were really influential to me in learning how to be a writer. But other than that, I don't have any direct ties to Sweden – until now.
What do you need from a collecting society?
– First and foremost a healthy and transparent mindset around royalties; “This is what we do and this is how we do it”. Outside of that, I’m looking for a space that is very artist friendly, and if there would also be artistic opportunities that kick my way, that would be fantastic. But the most important thing is of course, making sure that everyone is making as much money as they can, especially since streaming doesn’t pay like a hard copy of a cd.
Your new EP was released in September this year, how have you evolved as a songwriter since your last release?
– I'm trying to be more comfortable with being drawn to certain themes and to leave more of a footprint in the way that I write. With my debut EP, Iridescent, in a lot of ways, I was trying to lean away from the sound that I had at the time, trying to experiment and doing things differently. With this project The Vision, I'm still experimenting and trying new things but I’m also more willing to lean into what’s already working, with certain choices artistically. I’m just being more accepting of what makes me me and also being willing to try new things at the same time.
You are the sole writer on almost every song – a bit unusual these days.
– Writing is so personal to me and I love to write and explore situations I'm going through, and reflect. I do collaborate with other people but for my own artist projects I always end up writing most, if not all, of my songs completely by myself. After that, I start producing them and then I'll bring on another producer to help me round up my sound and mix things better. But I like to keep it very close to my chest.
What are your plans for next year?
– I want to start working on my debut album and I want to use these two projects to build a platform for myself. I’m hoping that with this next album, and with a greater body of work and things to accompany that, I'll be able to make more of a name for myself.
– Through the end of this year, we’re just promoting the EP, touring the EP, and have a couple of projects in collaboration with it and then next year I would definitely like to embark on a new project, probably my most ambitious yet. I’ve never made an album before and I have a pretty clear idea of the level of cohesion that I expect for it, that I don’t think I’ve had yet. And sonic clarity; I want it to be a record that resonates, even if it’s not your kind of music at all. I want every ear that hears it to find something in it that resonates. That’s the main goal for next year – and just to enjoy the journey along that way.