In Session: Ayesha

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There’s a real sense of community at Nowadays. What’s the atmosphere like in there?

It’s unlike any nightlife space that I had ever been to. The lighting design is so forward-thinking, not like any dancefloor visually. It’s a place that’s very intentional about creating a music-centred experience with [rules like] no photography and videos on the dancefloor. I’ve never been to a club that had so much to experience based on your mood. If you wanna dance and zone into a DJ set, you can, but if you wanna be outside on the patio, they also have DJs playing out there all night. They have turntablists and hammocks and bonfire pits and a bar, so it’s a pick-your-own-adventure.

Coming out of COVID, everyone was questioning the “headliner” model and thinking about how the survival and evolution of nightlife would be locally rooted. My residencies feel like safe spaces for me to experiment and test out WIPs because I feel like I have a special relationship with the folks who come out to see me. I think that’s because of a combination of Nowadays building residencies where people come and are ready to go wherever the DJ takes them, and the club valuing DJs who push boundaries. It’s been a very gradual growing of a relationship between me and the dancefloor there and with that has come a greater sense of more confidence and trust in the room.

You’ve said that you’ve been living under a rock trying to make ‘Rhythm Is Memory’. How would you describe the process looking back now?

I feel very relieved. The entire arc of the record could be traced over two years, but the intense work of finishing the record was over the period of a year. During that year, I felt the weight of committing to the format of an album. Ten tracks. Ma Sha had a vision for this, and putting out an album on your good friend’s label, those are great circumstances. I can’t imagine putting out my first album with a label that was on the other side of the world and I didn’t have emotional support from.

Is there a specific reason why you wanted it to be 10 tracks? Was it just a nice, round number?

It felt round, but also I started getting paid to DJ in 2013, and I thought there was some strange symmetry there. I didn’t want to have it feel like a cliche, and I don’t want to overstate time as a necessary factor in other people’s journeys, but for me, I’ve experienced so much growth in this decade. It only felt right to stamp that with something.

You’re a shining example of someone who has been more patient with their rise. Pharrell made ‘Frontin’’ when he was 30!

Preach! This is what I want this soapbox that I stand on to be: take the time you need. I sometimes have that critical voice in my head that says I’m not moving fast enough – no one is insusceptible to that in a noisy industry. I can’t help but move at the pace that I’ve been moving at. A hard part about finishing the record was that I was not taking up opportunities and wasn’t working on any other records. It was hard to commit to that choice [at times].

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Your Instagram story always seems to have clips of you sharing new sounds you’ve been experimenting with. What sort of sounds do you find exciting?

Lately? Very squelchy sounds and very resonant sounds. I’m hearing a lot of inspiration in music released on Voam, or by Piezo or Henzo, and taking note of sound and textures that I find really appealing to me visually, and how I can design my sounds to be visceral in that way. Not necessarily imitating, but pushing the limits of my sound design to hit the body. Sounds for the body, that’s what I strive for.

I notice a lot of bubbly and watery sound effects in your work. Are you a water sign?

I am, I’m a Pisces! I’ve always loved water as an element and how it is embodied in dance music. It’s a very soothing sound and there are so many ways you can represent it musically. I heard Ariel Zetina’s music from about two or three years ago that had some nice water sign energy and watery textures as well. I did a track called ‘Downpour’ and I remember it was so easy and intuitive to make a track inspired by water. I recorded a [Roland] Juno in the studio, and as I was designing and stretching some of those sounds, it was flowing. I also released a track called ‘Swim’ on Fever AM

‘The Club is a Sea’ as well…

Yes! I don’t think I have a literal intention to have water be a motif but it inevitably is because it’s just within me.

Written by: Tim Hopkins

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