One of the fastest rising stars in Canadian music, Oji-Cree singer-songwriter Aysanabee has just released a new single ahead of his upcoming EP., Here and Now. “Alone” is an anthemic song exploring the concepts of love, loyalty, and loss. While we eagerly await his upcoming Niagara show with Dan Mangan (October 29th at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre), we caught up with Aysanabee to chat about the new music, his most memorable show, the evolution of his songwriting, and his deserted island album picks.
From The Strait: Tell us about the new single, “Alone”.
Aysanabee: “Alone” was written about a relationship I was in where I was trying to continue being the person I was when it started, even when I wasn’t that person anymore because so much had changed in my life. I think everyone has been there before, and a lot of people stay in the place for their whole lives. People aren’t meant to stay the same, though; the world is meant to happen to people, and we are meant to grow and evolve, and sometimes that means growing apart.
From The Strait: You’ve had an incredible couple of years – and deservedly so. After being a musician for so long, how has this success and recognition felt?
Aysanabee: The rise has been quick, and we had so many accomplishments, I don’t think there is a way to have an even larger year in Canada next year, I was nominated for almost every award show you can be, and I am grateful. You’re forcing me to think about it, which is good, I have a terrible problem with getting tunnel vision when we accomplish one thing; I think about what is next, and I keep looking to the next mountain to climb and forget to take the time to enjoy these moments of accomplishment. I would say ask me in winter about what these things mean, and I will have a better understanding when my world has slowed down a bit, and I have more time to reflect.
From The Strait: You’ve played some amazing shows and venues – what has been your most memorable performance? What would be a bucket list venue for you?
Aysanabee: My most memorable performance was the Mariposa Festival in Orillia. I played it when no one had really heard of me, and I played three shows that day, my final being an in-between set after Mavis Staples. I remember it because I was so exhausted, I had played Montreal Jazz Fest the night before and had barely gotten any sleep because of travelling. But I do remember the show producer tapping me on the shoulder and asking me if I was ready to play, I was watching Mavis play, watching from the side of the main stage, and I said, “For sure, when?” and he said, “next.” I remember my nerves shooting up because how do I follow Mavis, so tired and by myself? She walked off after crushing the set with her big band, and then I remember watching thousands of people just walking away as I was setting up. Then I played, and thousands of people turned around and came back to watch, that was a moment for me. As far as a bucket list venue, would love to play my first Arena show sometime.
From The Strait: How has your songwriting style evolved over the years?
Aysanabee: This is what I have been telling myself lately, “just write the song.” You are going to write 10 bad songs for every one you kind of like, and this is all subjective. I find myself to be very critical of my own work, but every song I write is about something related to my life, whether that’s heavy in context, heartbreak, or even a stray thought. There is no right way to make music, and even if you think it’s not a good song, it might change someone else’s life.
From The Strait: What can fans expect from your upcoming EP, Here and Now?
Aysanabee: I wanted to experiment with different sounds but without going too far into the deep end, so the songs vary in feel and texture but with a common thread, this is a collection of songs about change and heartache.
From The Strait: If you were stuck on a deserted island, what 5 albums would you hope to have with you?
Hermanos Gutiérrez: Hoy Como Ayer
Kendrick Lamar: To Pimp a Butterfly
Florence + The Machine: Lungs (Deluxe Edition)
FKJ: Just Piano
Harry Styles: Fine Line
Check out “Alone”, the new single from Aysanabee!