Q & A with Ayla (2)

Fresh from Woodford Folk Festival, Ayla is currently doing a stripped back run of shows across the East Coast, before going on tour in support of Kate Miller-Heidke in February/March.

Ayla’s early songwriting prowess was quickly recognised when she made the finals of the International Songwriting Competition in 2012 with her song Talk About Home. Her debut single ‘Wish I Was’ also picked up International attention, placing in the semi-finals of the International Songwriting Competition, as well as garnering a distribution with Italian Record Label EGO (Emma Louise, The Jezabels).

‘Wish I Was’ came in as the 15th most played song on triple j in 2014. This was followed up last year by two more singles, which both also received high rotation on triple j, and an EP to boot.

Half-way through her new tour, we caught up with Ayla before she heads to play a stripped-back show at Bison Bar on February 7.

Hello Ayla. Well… what a whirlwind year last year was for you. Two more successful singles, touring, and finally an EP.  Looking back at 2015, was there a single moment that really stood out for you more than anything?

Hello! Thanks for doing a Q & A with me. Yeah, last year was a lot of fun. I think I’d have to say the whole Woodford experience was a stand out for me. It was my first time performing there. The week started with singing backing vocals for Katie Noonan in the opening ceremony, which was incredible to watch and be a part of, and then I did two performances with my band and it was amazing to have such a warm reception at both. 

Can I ask what the wait was, between Wish I Was (first single back in 2014) up to the EP being released late last year? 

Yeah, well after Wish I Was Elliot (Heinrich who did the production on the whole EP) and I worked on When the World Ends, a song that actually ended up being released as the third single, with the intention of releasing it as the follow up single straight after Wish I Was. So that one was pretty well ready to go, but then it was decided that it didn’t quite fit putting it out straight after Wish I Was, so we then chose and worked on Waiting, which ended up being released as the second single instead. So that whole process took a little while in the end. 

I’ve spoken to a few Coast artists about their experience at the recent Woodford Folk Festival, and I did catch two of your performances, but how as the festival for you, and did you get time to catch many other artists?
Thanks for catching the sets! I had an amazing time at the festival, and I was really happy to see so many Sunshine Coast artists on the bill this year. I had been sick coming into Woodford and actually lost my voice after singing in the opening ceremony, so I had to go home to do some not-talking-at-all after that unfortunately, so I didn’t get to see as many acts as I would have liked. I did catch you guys in Bearfoot – with an incredible crowd who were loving it – on the tropic stage as well as Khan Harrison in the Pineapple Lounge, who was fantastic as well. 

You’ve got a special stripped back performance coming up at The Bison Bar in Nambour, which is a fantastic venue for being right up close to the audience, which in turn gives you more room to connect with the audience and perhaps tell some stories…  so, going to chuck in some stand up comedy in there too?  Seriously though… what was the decision behind doing a more intimate show like this?

I’m doing a whole stripped back tour, with this show at the Bison Bar capping it off on Sunday the 7th of February at 3pm. I wanted to do these stripped back shows to share the songs in their bare form, which is where I have the strongest connection because that’s how I wrote them. I thought it would be really cool to have some intimate shows like this to create a real connection with the crowd. 

You also just announced that you’ll be touring with Kate Miller-Heidke soon.  How did that connection come about?  And is that with the full band, or just solo?

I’ve always really respected Kate for her originality and fantastic songwriting and am honoured to be supporting her on this tour! I was blown away to hear that her husband Keir had enjoyed our set at Woodford and that she wanted to have me on the tour. I will actually be solo on this tour as well.

What was the reason behind choosing ‘Throw Your Arms Around Me’ as your Like A Version last year?  Had you played around with that song previously?

My mum actually hums it around the house sometimes, and I’ve always loved the song. I think it has a special meaning for a lot of people, which definitely put the pressure on – taking on such a well loved classic, but it was a really amazing experience. 

And finally, I have a theory that you have some fascination with the letter ‘W’.  Look at your song titles from the first three releases.  ‘Wish I Was’, ‘Waiting’, ‘When the World Ends’.   Do you know something we don’t?

It was a total accident. There’s another song on the EP called ‘House on a Hill’ – it used be called ‘When you Get Home’, but I was like “no way, not another W, I’ve got to change it…” Maybe I can do alphabetically themed releases from now, except I haven’t left myself much room starting from W!

Thanks Ayla. You’ve had an amazing career so far, and we look forward to what you have in store for us in 2016.  Have a great gig at The Bison Bar on February 7.

Ayla’s ‘When the World Ends’ Stripped Back Tour continues through Sydney and Byron Bay, before finishing up in Nambour at The Bison Bar on February 7.

You can download the ‘When the World Ends’ EP via iTunes here.

Rhys Fox