We caught up with IYAMAH, an artist on the rise, that hails from Brighton and is known for her warm and luscious vocals and her deeply meaningful lyrics. Talking to her was a treat as we jumped through topics such as latest single ‘Cake’, growing up on the seaside and her dream video shoot.
Meet the team:
Stylist: Kojo Hammond
Photographer : Hana Zeb Zabi
Mua: Kareem Jarche
Hair : Beckha Allure Beauty
Photographers Assistant : Maya Wojwick
Stylist Assistant : Michelle Djohari
Interview by Tomi Otekunrin.
Tomi: I listened to your latest single ‘Cake’.
IYAMAH: Yeah. Do you love it?
T: I absolutely love it! My hungry self thought it was just about actual cake [laughter]. Talk me through the single.
I: So yeah, the single is a bit of a different vibe to ‘Truth EP.1’. It’s a bit more chilled out, it’s a bit less like a thing about my past or my life, it’s more so about the relationships I’ve been . So yeah, it’s sort of a reflection on how these days most people want to have the cake before they put the love and effort into the relationship. I sort of just had enough of being played by people who didn’t really respect my time. Basically that’s what ‘Cake’ is saying, you can’t have your cake and eat it, it’s just me playing on that. If you want to have cake, you’ve got to give me the starter, main course and dessert before you get cake. [laughs]
T: Exactly! I dubbed this song the ‘no time for time wasters anthem’, that’s how I see it.
I: Yeah! It’s basically just remembering your worth and your value. It’s so easy to feel like you should just give people what they want but in actual fact, time is very precious thing.
T: You put out your album ‘Truth EP.1’ earlier in the year. Why is it called episode 1 and can we expect more episodes?
I: ‘Truth’ is definitely a bigger project for me. I think you know later on in the year or next year, I’ll come back to it but I’m just saying how it is kind of quite personal journey really. That is what ‘Truth’ is all about. You know, what I have been going through the last few years and sort of my reflection on who I am, my identity and you know, the sort of the troubles that I faced when I first moved to London. When I was finding out a lot about you know, my background and sort of you know, who I am and my family and everything. So actually is my life story, I feel very invested in ‘Truth’ in that way so I feel like I’m not done with it. But I’m also not ready to finish those songs right now. I know what songs are going to be on ‘Truth EP.2’, they might even be a ‘Truth EP.3. You never know…
T: The trilogy!
I: Yeah that’s more so about my life story and I need a bit of a break from that. It’s quite draining to talk about your life story everytime you go to a session. [laughs]
T: I get that. You are from Brighton, can you talk about how that has influenced your music?
I: When I was growing up, there were underground bars, parades in the summer and music on the beach. A lot of reggae music, a lot of culture and diversity. There’s a lot of percussion sounds and live instruments that I use in my music, are definitely inspired by the sounds I grew up around in Brighton. Also yeah, just music that I listened to growing up around Brighton, reggae and hip-hop. As I get into my teens, it was more so drum and bass and even jungle music. The first song that I proper released to the world was a drum and bass track, that definitely came from my influence from Brighton for sure. You can hear that in my music, it’s not a very clean r&b sort of sound. Well, ‘Cake’ is a bit more like that. I feel like I want to go back to my roots a bit more and that always relates back to Brighton.
T: What is your favourite song to perform?
I: My favourite song is probably ‘Lone Soldier’ because I feel, it’s a lot more rootsy and it has more reggae in there. The song is the most like me, it’s authentic to who I am. Also, it’s just a bit of a bop. I always get my audience swaying with me on the breakdown section so that’s always fun. But my band love to play ‘Seasons’, maybe because it’s a bit more jazzy and they love that [laughs]. It’s always fun playing new songs to be honest, I’ve got a couple of new songs that are coming out next year, that I love playing live. Sometimes I think playing the same songs over and over, you can sometimes lose what you love about it. It’s not until you sing it in front of an audience that has never seen you live before or to a new crowd or you’ve got a new song, that’s what keeps the energy alive.
T: My favourite song of yours is ‘Silver Over Gold’. Do you actually only wear silver over gold?
I: You’ll literally never see me wearing gold, I mean maybe one day. I feel like I’ve trapped myself now [laughs]. I only wear silver jewellery, I feel like gold doesn’t really suit me and doesn’t represent me. My mum never had on gold jewellery so maybe that’s why. Also it represents Brighton, there’s so much silver jewellery in the lanes that are hard to find in other places. I think it represents a few different things for me, ‘Silver Over Gold’. I don’t really wear diamonds, I always wear stones or crystals. I don’t really like sparkly stuff to be honest [laughter]. Just doesn’t really resonate with me, sequins or sparkly stuff, nah. [laughs]
T: What are your pre-stage rituals?
I: I just need to go on my own for a bit, just away from everyone because the worst thing is when people keep trying to talk to me. I don’t really get that nervous anymore but I still get a bit uptight and tense so I just need to relax. The only way I can do that is by running through everything in my head, feeling sure about what I’m doing and just breathing. I used to warm up a lot before I performed but that just tires my voice out and I used to stress myself out even more. So now I just take myself away and just breathe [laughs]. Take a deep breath and then I’m ready!
T: What would be your dream video shoot?
I: Riding an elephant through the water.
I: Or maybe just a horse going through the water, you know you can ride horses on these beautiful islands. That would be cool. I’d have to be wearing a Beyoncé swimming suit or something [laughter].
T: Your album starts with a ‘Cryptic Love’ poem. Have you thought about releasing art in different mediums, maybe putting out a book of poetry?
I: It’s funny because I have never considered myself poetic or a poet in any sort of way. Initially I was a singer not a writer so writing is quite a new thing for me but the ‘Cryptic Love’ just sort of just came out of me, I don’t know where it came from. I think sometimes when you’re so invested in sort of an idea or a song it’s got just flows out. I feel like it’s a language you tap into so possibly more poems might be coming your way [laughs]. I can’t promise when they’ll come out or when that will happen, I don’t know. I’ll just have to wait and see what comes out [laughs].
T: When you get a minute to pause, what do you like to do for self care?
I: I’m an only child, I grew up my own so I love time for myself just to think. I never ever get bored so when I have to just chill, that’s very good for me. I love watching films, I love watching silly cartoons on TV or something to help me not think about anything [laughs]. I love watching documentaries, stuff that I feel like I’m learning from. I try and see my friends, my social life has kind of gone down the priority list since doing music just because it’s so draining sometimes. Then constantly looking for inspiration, feeling the highs and lows, it’s just sort of trying to find the middle ground in the best ways that I can.
T: Since your latest single is called ‘Cake’, what is your favourite type of cake?
I: Red velvet or a carrot cake. Ooh, my mum does make a good lemon drizzle. No, I’d probably say red velvet.
T: I just had some red velvet cake yesterday [laughs].
I: Oh really? Was it good?
T: Yes it was!
I: I love that [laughs]. Yeah, you got to have some cake sometimes. Treat yourself!
IYAMAH’s latest single, Cake, is out now.
Follow IYAMAH on Instagram.
Kareem Jarche Used:
Complextion – Mac Face + Body C5
Mac Mineralise Baked Powders In Medium, Medium Golden And Dark Tan Laura Mercier – Translucent Powder Anastasia Beverley Hills Amrezy Highlighter Eyes – Maybelline Gel Liner Black Ardell Lashes Lips- Chestnut Lip Liner- Corck Lipliner Fenty Beauty Christmas Gloss Collection