The Truth On Iyamah
15th April 2019
Iyamah is making soulful waves in the music industry, having supported the likes of Mahalia on tour. With festivals begging and sold out shows of her own, truth be told 2019 is already her year. We caught up with the star to talk through her style, philosophy and debut EP…
Why the name Iyamah, and how do you pronounce it?
The name comes from my Nigerian family surname Ayamah. I replaced the A with an I so it’s pronounced “I-yam-ah” which sounds like ‘I am a’. It gives me the freedom to be able to be who I want to be and create who I am as an artist with no restrictions. Not growing up with my father meant I couldn’t learn about my African roots through him, so I found a sense of belonging through music, where I was able to connect to the sounds and instruments that that related to the culture, that drew me closer to my identity.
How did you get into music and what would you be doing if your career took a different route?
I’ve always been a creative kid – I grew up with my mother who worked in fashion when she was in her 20s making clothes, before then becoming a painter. So a lot of my childhood was going to the studio to draw with her. I always struggled to pay attention in school, especially with academic subjects, but I was always really good at anything creative or sporty. I think at one point I thought I was going to be a sprinter! I was a really speedy runner, always chosen for the 80-100 metres.
Who do you look up to, who do you, and what’s your career goals?
I look up to a lot of empowering women. Maybe because I was raised by one, but even when I was a young teen I remember always feeling good after watching Beyoncé’s music videos on YouTube! I just felt great knowing there were other women out there who had the confidence to make an impact and stand up for themselves. We are lucky in this generation to have so many strong and powerful female role models in the public eye.
How would you describe your music?
I say it’s ‘rootsy soul’.
Your debut EP is out, and is titled ‘Truth EP.1’. Tell us some home truths and a few white lies!
Ok I’ve had 5 hamsters, 2 tortoises and 1 cat. I also speak French…
What stories are you sharing on this EP?
I talk about my hometown and where I’m from, my childhood going into adolescence, responsibility and relationships, acceptance of self and identity. It’s a journey really, these songs were written when I was 19-21.
Your recent gig SOLD OUT – congrats! What are your fans like, and what stories/interaction do you have with them?
I always try to reply to my followers, some of the messages I get are so so lovely, and they cheer me up when I read them. We all have down days, so I’m grateful to have supports to lift me up when I’m low! I’d like to start connecting with more fans at my shows and just have a chat. I wouldn’t be doing all these great things if it wasn’t for them.
We love your fashion sense – what makes a good outfit, and what does style mean to you?
Thank you! I think style is another way of expressing myself, just like a tattoo. It adds to your authenticity and makes you unique. People usually remember you by your style and you can tell a lot about someone based on the way they present themselves and the clothes they’re into!
On your first ever visit to Superdry, what did you make of us?
I hadn’t actually been to Superdry in a while as I assumed it was mainly sportswear, however I was so happily surprised as the store had so many cool items that were right up my street!
What did you pick out from the store?
Well as soon as I walked in I saw this green silk dress which I instantly thought is SO ME! I also found this amazing long black dress with writing along the neckline, and a grey dress with rainbow down the side, perfect for summer vibes.
What’s Iyamah’s plans for the rest of 2019?
Festivals, hopefully another tour support and I’m gathering more songs for potentially another EP, but we’ll see how it goes!