Amy Ayanda's debut EP, Ports, is proof of the organic role a music producer can play in moulding a musician's sound. The Cape Town fine artist and electrofolk musician has collaborated with producer Thor Rixon from the start, their quirky creative visions finding common ground both in the studio and on stage together (most recently at Design Indaba Festival 2015). That's not to detract from Amy's songwriting abilities or delicate melodies, which trace the vicissitudes of her emotional life in slightly detached-sounding tones. We haven't heard the "before" but it's obvious from listening to the four tracks on her new EP that the two work seamlessly together, with Thor's back tracks and pleasing grooves bringing in a levity, as is the case with "Eyes Fade", or a compelling broodiness in "La Llorna". Extra texture comes from instrumentation by mungo (aka Simon Lee) on guitar and percussion and James McClure on trumpet.
We caught up with Amy as she was heading off to Berlin to immerse herself in new creative adventures.
What do you get out of making music that you don’t get out of making art?
Music is art! But I guess... being a part of collaboration with others is something I get from making music that I do not get with making art.
Walk us through each of the four tracks on your new EP?
“Boon” was originally very slow and depressing. It was written about three years ago after a bit of a messy breakup. “Eyes Fade” is about how we can lose ourselves to other people and is one of my newest ones! “King’s Kraal” is about being in the ‘diep lief’ [deeply in love] – I wrote it for one of my first boyfriends when I was 18. “La Llorna” is about hiding, I guess. Half of it was written about four years ago and the end part I wrote about two years ago! Which is funny because you can really hear the way the song lifts in the end.
I find it difficult to explain each song though – its been so long since I wrote them originally. After a while the words all feel the same to me... but in production, this is where they get their own voice and I’m not really needed anymore.
How long have you been singing and making music for?
Ever since I can remember I am have been singing and making music. My first hit was a song my sister and I made up about dancing Smarties.
How do you think being an artist first and foremost influenced your sound?
I’m sure it is relative but it’s not conscious. There is no way that it’s not relative. I worked a lot with concepts of forgiving and letting go in my final work last year and that definitely comes through in my music. The one feeds off the other and vice versa.
What does Thor Rixon’s production bring to the overall album?
His production brings the sound. I write the lyrics and the melodies but they also change through his production. He is the sound. The body to the head and the salt to the popcorn!
What was it like performing your first live set at Design Indaba Festival 2015?
I had a great time! People were extremely helpful and professional. I was nervous but more excited to share what we had managed to pull together! The show was vibey and I think everyone enjoyed it.
There’s some pretty nifty visuals created by Sitaara Stodel for the album. Were you a part of that process? Tell us how they came about?
Yes I was! Sitaara is a very talented artist and she has photographed me many times so it wasn’t difficult to be comfortable with her. She photographed me and the flowers in my garden and she worked with those images.