posted by Lu
last month

UK-based musician, singer, and songwriter IYAMAH has walked a creative journey that has led her onto numerous paths. From a young age, the influence of African drumming and reggae music seeped into her essence. By the time she entered adolescence, she became immersed in the festival culture and vibrancy from dub and Drum and Bass nights.

These early inspirations can still be heard in her work to this day. In fact, her distinct sound has catapulted her as a rising star as she has garnered millions of streams, amassed numerous sold-out shows, and graced stages across the globe. Beyond her sound, she deeply connects with her fan base by using her platform to advocate for social justice causes and promote empowerment through her lyrics and actions. IYAMAH is not just a singer-songwriter; she is a soulful storyteller, a beacon of authenticity and this is evident throughout her newest body of work In Two Worlds.

“It all started with a Tarot reading. All the songs are reflections of the cards I pulled that day. The first card had a picture of a woman blindfolded, tied up in ropes and chains, and in front of her are 8 swords but there is a gap between two of them, and a castle in the distance”

Throughout this interview, IYAMAH opens up about growing up in Brighton, her latest album, and a whole lot more. If you would love to experience In Two Worlds live, IYAMAH is touring the album in the UK and you can find the link to the tickets here.

What were some of the moments you cherished the most when you were still young and making music in your bedroom?

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Writing a song on my piano felt exactly like writing in a diary. Each song was a secret that only I would know about. Time didn’t exist and there was no pressure or expectations because I wasn’t writing for anyone but myself. I try to remember that feeling every time I come back to writing not only on my own in my bedroom but all the time! 

How did your relationship with performing and creating music change after it became a full-time job? 

Naturally it changes because now you’re relying on your passion to survive, and to earn a living. You want to give people what they want, but the more you cater to other people’s needs, the less fulfilled you become. For a while writing songs started to feel stressful, when it used to be the thing that gave me peace. I was judging myself before I even started. I had to remember why I loved music, and fall in love with it all over again. Being a creative means being patient and forgiving. Not every time we pick up a pen does it become a masterpiece. With every idea comes a new lesson, and that’s how I try and look at it now. You can’t predict what the outcome will be, you just have to take what comes with it and enjoy the journey. 

You’ve mentioned before that the creative scene in Brighton has had quite an impact on you as an artist. In fact incredible artists like Bonobo, Fatboy Slim, and even Celeste are from there. In your opinion what is it about the city of Brighton that makes it such a sprawling creative hub?

Brighton is a special place because it’s very accepting. It’s quirky and vibrant. There’s a whole bunch of painters, dancers, writers, actors, and musicians who live there. Loads of live music and all sorts going on. I was lucky because my mum was creative, and so were a lot of the people I looked up to. I felt like I could be anyone, and do anything. There’s kinda like a culture there which encourages you to want to go to travel and see the world. Free spirits, and open-minded thinkers. I never questioned my identity, who I was or where I fit in when I lived there. I guess that’s what I’m looking for each time I go somewhere new.

How do you think your success as an artist, particularly following the release of the lauded Truth EP. 2, has also impacted the people around you?

Sometimes I find it difficult to see the impact I have on others, just because I’m always focusing on my next projects, and what I have planned for the future. It’s something I’m working on for sure, celebrating my achievements and looking at how far I have come. But I’m extremely grateful for the response Truth EP2 had, and to this day those songs are still some of my favourites to perform live. I hope it’s encouraged people to be comfortable with being vulnerable, to not be afraid to speak their truth, and to step into their power. 

From what I've gathered in various interviews, it's evident that you have a deep connection with your spiritual side. How has your spiritual journey influenced your creativity?

I’m still learning a lot about my spirituality and what that means. I’ve never been religious but what does resonate with me is that there’s something bigger, kinda like a higher source that connects us all and it can be called many things… your inner voice, intuition, your gut, nature, god… energy? I guess we all understand it differently. 

When it comes to creativity I see it like a frequency that you’re tuning into, whether it be a vision or a melody that is coming from elsewhere, and you’re just like the messenger interpreting it in your own way. I like to think that my songs are not just for me, but for the people. If they’ve taught me something, then I know they are worth sharing because it could help someone else.

What was going on in your life during the making of In Two Worlds?

Thinking back to when I first started writing these songs it was in 2022. We had just come out of lockdown so understandably I, like many, had been feeling a bit trapped, lonely at times, and quite isolated. I was frustrated because I felt like everything I had been building towards I had to start again, and I never really got to do all the things I had planned. I’ve always been a thinker but this time I had a lot of time to think. I started wondering what a ‘perfect world’ would look like, and if I had always had everything I ever wanted, would it be everything I’d dreamt of? It made me realize so many things about myself and made me question a lot. Like would I even be the same person? 

Could you elaborate as to why the tarot card reading you had was so significant for the themes you dive into on this album?

Yes, so my friend reads tarot and we went to the pub to do my cards. With tarot you usually pull 3 cards, to represent your past present, and future. The first card I pulled was 8 Of Swords, a lady tied up in chains and ropes, blindfolded with 8 swords in front of her. Two of the swords had a gap in between them and there was a castle in the distance. The message is that if only we could free ourselves from the restrictions we put on ourselves, we could reach our true potential. It resonated with me so much because I think we hold onto beliefs or ideas that may keep us safe at some point in our lives but eventually they become blocks, which are stopping us from stepping into our power. The other two cards I pulled were what I wrote ‘Green Grass’ and 'Luxury' from - so these cards pretty much shaped the concept for the entire project. 

How does the order and progression of the track list relate to the narrative of In Two Worlds?

The project starts in a dream, at first it’s like we are an innocent naive child exploring the perfect world we have created in our imagination, but throughout there’s a voice that always brings us back to reality, guiding us with lessons that sometimes we don’t want to see. When we get to side B, it’s like now we’re in adolescence, but that’s where the darkness takes over. It’s also where we start to see the light, how all the materialistic things we thought we wanted weren’t the answer and we come back to what really matters, what has been there the entire time. 

What do you hope your listeners understand about you as an artist and your vision after they've heard the album?

I am a storyteller. I have many of them, and conceptually there is so much in the lyrics you just have to look for them. The people who are supposed to find them will! 

What's something you wish you had been told during the early stages of your career?

Don’t rush, and just remember to have fun. It’s so important you enjoy yourself otherwise what’s the point! 

So... 1) An artist/band you would have a D.M.C (Deep Meaningful Conversation), 2) An artist/band you’d love to party with. 3) An artist you would like to be your mentor? You're welcome to pick from artists/bands who are retired/dead.

I’d have a DMC with Bob (Marley) of course. He had all the true wisdom

Party with Kelis and dye my hair orange or green 

I’d love Yasiin Bey or Alicia Keys to be my mentor. I’ll take both.. Yasiin for the beats and the words, Alicia for the vocal performance side of things. In fact, can they be my parents? 

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