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Aqyila

When Aqyila previewed her viral single “Bloom” at the end of last year on TikTok, it was a familiar experience—she had already had two viral moments with her debut single “Vibe For Me” and the breakout track from her EP Hello. However, this time around, it feels different. As she embarked on her next chapter, having released her debut EP For The Better last year, “Bloom” indicated the next phase of her artistic journey. 

Canada is a space that has birthed many talents from Celine Dion, Justin Bieber, Drake, The Weeknd, Tamia, Kaytranda and many more. Yet, when one thinks of the R&B spaces, Canada is a place that is seemingly overlooked in terms of the R&B that exists. Yet it feels like when you look closely at the scene, there is thriving; the likes of Savannah Ré, Majdi Jordan, dvsn, Baby Rose, and dvsn are just a few people that have been raising the Canadian flag in the name of R&.

Aqyila, whose musical beginnings came from social media, contributed to that. Initially starting out doing covers on sites like YouTube, KEEK and Vine before she switched to SoundCloud, she is no stranger to internet attention and has been grafting at her songwriting skills that have developed and come a long way since her sixth-grade beginnings. Now, joining the calibre of Canadian talent with her highly relatable lyrics and gentle melodies, Aqyila embraces her many sides. 

Speaking with Aqyila about her latest single, “Bloom ,” we discussed everything from the single to going viral, being real and authentic, Canadian R&B, and more. 

I want to start with the single “Bloom”. Tell me how it came about and the process of making it.

That was a fun one. It was one of my earlier sessions in November. I was in LA for a month, which was the longest time I was there, and during that time, I met Jonathan, the producer, and Maya, who co-wrote the song. It was enjoyable because it was all very new to us. They had worked together, but they were both getting to know me. I kept hearing these chords in my head, and I told Jonathan the notes I was hearing, so he put those notes down on the keys. From there, he was building on it. So when he made the beat, and Mya was vibing off different ideas like you, we just started writing the song. I like to paint a story in songs, and I want people to be able to visualize it themselves. Love is so beautiful, and who doesn’t like a good love song?

Before that, you put out the EP For The Better last year. Talk to me about that project and how to put it together.

My first EP was so exciting and nerve-wracking, too; it was my first whole body of work as somebody who’s only just put out one song. It was more of an opportunity for me to try out some different things, maybe songs that lean more into stronger pop elements, like, ”OH! ‘ and then we have pressure, which is a cool, high-paced track. And you know, I got to swing a bit of patois in to bring back my roots. I love that the EP showed people so many different sides of my voice. There were so many moments with songs like “Vibe for Me”, “Pressure”, and even “Hello”, where I just got those little feelings and hairs that stand up, which made me feel like, yeah, this is going to be a moment. It’s just the best feeling to, like, you already make when you like, make music, and it’s like, okay, I love this song. But when other people love it, it’s even more solidifying. And so, with the EP, it felt great that people responded and connected to it the way they did.

The songs on the project itself tell us a lot about yourself, and you touch on many topics. So, tell us about the process of writing the songs and stories.

My songwriting process is gibberish, but I also start to think of like words what the actual beat makes me feel. Then, I’ll start to think about things I’ve gone through and reflect and pull from my own experiences, or if I’m in a session, I’ll pull from experiences from the producer or the other writer. I like to get intimate when it comes to that because songwriting is so intimate, especially when you’re talking about your own experiences with people you just met. Telling a story is my favourite thing. I like writing and songwriting; it’s fun. You get to tell a story, tell your own story, or paint a nice picture for people to fall in love with. 

“Hello” was obviously one of the breakout songs from the EP, which carries very spiritual themes. So, even touching on that, how does speak to you in terms of its meaning and how people responded to it?

I knew “Hello” had to be on the EP; it was my last pick for the project. It was a gut instinct moment when I was in the studio, and I made that song with Evan Miles and Alessia Iorio. I knew for a fact that it would be a big song just because it made me feel like I got chills when I was singing it. It spoke to everything I was going through and stepping into this new chapter of my journey. I want to have affirmations in the song and say things that will touch people and they will resonate with them. It was encouraging, and it’s what people needed to hear. So many people have contacted it and said it has a very spiritual meaning to them, and it’s a powerful, empowering song that speaks to many people. It was personal for me because of this, like its meaning. And I was so happy when I saw the people connecting with it.

Seeing the reception of “Hello” and “Vibe For Me,” which was your first viral moment, how did these help your confidence in music, especially as they were part of your first project?

When I put out “Vibe for Me”, the first song I ever released, I saw so much positive feedback from people. It just reaffirmed to me that I’m where I need to be. When I’m creating music and releasing music, I’ve always just kept it like this: this is something that I’m passionate about doing. Those who like my stuff would gravitate towards it. So there’s never been extra pressure of hoping that people like it; of course, I hope people like it, but at the same time, it’s more that this is just something that I love doing. “Vibe for Me” solidified that and made me feel like I’m meant to be here.

Where did your love for music began? 

It would have to be when I was in the fifth grade; we had a talent show. I wrote a song about my mom, and of course, she loved it. From there, I continued songwriting, but I was doing it in a book, and I thought they were poems. So I was singing my poems. And then, I started doing YouTube in sixth grade. After high school, I leaned out doing covers for a bit. And then I was just songwriting more of my stuff and putting it on SoundCloud. It was me vibing out with GarageBand, and eventually, I found my way onto social media apps Vine, Keek, YouTube, and TikTok. And then the music ended up being what I was doing, going off pure vibes and faith. I put out “Vibe For Me”, and “from there, it’s been just on the up and up ever since.

Touching on the R&B Space in Canada, how would you describe that space as somebody who has lived it and influenced your music?

My mom played a lot of Whitney Houston. So, when I was little, I would hear a lot of that throughout the house. Fantasia is just like gospel R&B. There is a lot of that throughout the house, but my mom also played a lot of Tamia. There is just something about the feeling of the soulfulness of that genre. And the harmonies, the layering, all those things. That’s what makes it R & B. That would help shape me growing up. Being in Toronto is like a melting pool of different cultures and vibes. It’s like even leaning into country music or excellent indie rock songs. 

Who are some other artists that you can put us on to?

Nonso Amadi, he’s dope, Chxrry22 she’s fire.

Having been to London, who are some UK artists you have an eye on or are on your radar?

I met JAE5 during my trip; I know he’s not from the UK, but I also worked with Tyler ICU. Outside of artists, A UK producer I was excited to work with was PRGRSHN.

Who are some people in the UK that you are tapped into? 

Outside of the UK, I’m close with Libianca, so we’re trying to lock in something nice because we have both seen each other’s journeys, like when she was on The Voice and I was on YouTube. Now, see her shift when she dropped people’s people’s like girl like I’m so proud of you doing your thing, and she’s amazing. Ayra Starr, as well; she’s fire. 

How has the experience been of being able to travel and take your music outside of Canada?

It has been enjoyable. I’m able to have a good team around me as well. This is a whole opportunity that I wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t taken that leap. And so I’m so heavy on telling people to take that leap of faith and bet on yourself. Because you only know what you can do once you try. You have to be your biggest champion and your biggest believer, regardless of whatever you’re doing when you’re creative. For me, it’s been fantastic because you get these opportunities to meet other artists from all over the world and people you grew up listening to, so it’s just a crazy experience. 

With the single “Bloom”, I want to think that that will lead to a possible new project, so what can you say about this next chapter of music?

I’m excited about this chapter because I’m working on my debut album. So that will be exciting; there are way more sides and songs. We were looking at some more singles this year. We have the second follow-up single after “Bloom”. Live shows like festivals—fingers crossed, even getting on some international shows. And just more experiences, more travelling, for sure. I look forward to connecting with more amazing people and broadening my audience. 

“Bloom” is out now

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