Ayo Talks "Billie-Eve"
Wed, 04 Jan 2012 11:53:16
"We pretty much made the record the way they did back in the '60s and '70s," says of Ayo of her forthcoming third album, Billie-Eve, due out February 21st, 2012 in stores.
Via this old school approach, Ayo ushers soul into the future with Billie-Eve. Her hypnotic harmonies roll with bluesy power as she finds the perfect space between Erykah Badu's otherworldly R&B and the classic soul of Etta James. This is modern soul at its finest.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief and Dolor author Rick Florino, Ayo opens up about Billie-Eve and so much more.
How did you approach Billie-Eve?
I wrote the album at different moments, and I went through different periods on this record. There isn't necessarily a concept. I was pregnant at one point, and then I wasn't. After giving birth, I went back into the studio to record some more songs. I felt a need to write more. Somehow, the music is all connected. This whole process was very important and emotional for me. It came naturally.
There's an element of soul.
Thank you very much! I would say it's still soul as well. No matter what kind of style you have, I think it's always soulful.
Was it crucial to capture the right vocal takes?
It's funny because the maximum number of takes I would do was three. I never did more than three takes. Most of the songs are first take. I really believe that the magic is in the moment, and you cannot recreate moments. Why are you trying to recreate a moment when it's all there already? I'm not good at being in the studio for six months to a year and trying different things here and there. I like to work fast. Everything has been recorded live with the musicians.
You capture that magic in the moment.
That's exactly what we were trying to do! It was easier because I worked with great musicians. That was very helpful. It's easy to get a usable first take with amazing musicians.
What's the story behind "It Hurts"?
Originally, I wrote the song on the piano. One day, my son woke up and he had a dream. At the time, he was five-years-old. He's six now. He told me he dreamt about a song and he was humming that melody. Then, I was trying to put that melody in a song. It was difficult. I played it on the piano, and he was sitting on my lap. He started asking me all of these questions. I was going through a difficult time with his father. I would answer the questions. I decided to write the song to describe what it feels like when it hurts. That's how I wrote the song. I changed it after. After playing it on the piano, I decided to change the version and make it more of a guitar song. My friend played the guitar and bass, and I played the drums. After I gave birth to my daughter, I went back into the studio to record this song and actually make it part of my record. It's an important song for me.
Is it important for you to paint visual pictures with the songs?
When I write, it's very personal. I play music because it's therapeutic for me. I'm inspired by things that are real. I can feel for other people, but I do write a lot about myself and my life.
How did "Believe" with Saul Williams come about?
I asked Saul to write a conclusion for me and come up with something. He's a good friend of mine, and I would come to him a lot. I felt like the only person who could possibly write something about me would be Saul. I asked him to come to the studio. I thought he had something prepared, but he didn't. He started writing from scratch. He came up with "Believe". When I heard it, I was very touched. What he said was so true. He felt like he channeled something.
Which artists shaped you?
I was on my bike, and I was listening to Jeff Buckley's Grace. He was a great talent. I love Bob Marley, Donny Hathaway, Mos Def, Joni Mitchell, Lauryn Hill and Nina Simone. There are so many artists on my iPod.
Have you heard Ayo yet?