Review & Interview: Ayah Marar
Tuesday, October 8, 2013 at 03:10 PM | Molly Boekenheide
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The “Queen of Bass” has arrived!  Ayah Marar, who has been earning her stripes over the past five years across the pond-- most recently with her Calvin Harris collaboration, Thinking About You, --is taking the U.S. by storm. Feisty, street smart, and determined, this adorable powerhouse is coming with an agenda. Her debut album The Real, exploded onto the U.S. scene this past July via Radikal Records.

The Real kicks-off with the catchy dance tune, Mind Controller, which manages to find the perfect balance between club track and empowering anthem. Next up, is the futuristic, fast-paced motivator, Unstoppable. Its synth-ridden choruses will have you dancing to the beat, before dropping into the mid-tempo, Latin inspired, Follow You, which exposes Ayah’s vulnerable side.

The album’s first three tracks are extraordinary, and songs 4,5, and 6 are something special as well. After that, Ayah delves into murky waters with the hypnotic Lethal Dose, exploring both emotional and physical addiction set to a dark dubstep beat. Beg, Borrow, Steal, the album's lead single, is an instant pick-me-up with its catchy pop vibe and killer vocals. Ayah's voice climbs to new heights before doing a complete 180 in the next track, appropriately titled The Predator. Predator shows some of the biggest and best drops in the album, blending trap, drum & bass, and dubstep; effectively serving up the albums most aggressive track.

Ayah, goes hip-hop next with, Alive, which features rapper P. Money and a powerful take-no-prisoners message. Born in Jordan, Ayah goes back to her roots in Camouflage Girl, which has a definite foreign feel. Her roots bleed into the slow-but-steady Stone Cold Heart, an unusually subdued ballad about heartbreak. Ayah is back to her old self in Go Hard, which was also The Real’s first US single. Go Hard combines a fast-paced backing beat with motivational lyrics before slowing down again for, Sign Your Name, a techno-infused track that commands universal head-nodding.  The Real’s title track follows, confusing listeners at first with an old-time intro before fading into surprisingly deep lyrics that speak of struggling, both with self-esteem, and the business in general.  The album wraps it up with, The Raver, a festival-ready track certain to become a club classic.

Luckily for us, Ayah took a break from her busy schedule to share her thoughts on the album, working with Calvin, and what’s next…

If you could think of one point in your life that influenced you musically the most, what would it be?

I'm not sure if I could ever pinpoint one exact moment. Everything I have ever heard has inspired and influenced me, and being involved in piano and ballet from a young age set the foundations and discipline I needed to make it a career. Moving to the UK certainly had a great impact as well, and falling in love with DnB.

You were just featured in the new Calvin Harris track, Thinking About You, which was on one of the biggest albums of the year. How does it feel to be an independent artist being featured on such a huge hit?

Calvin and I are old friends and we wrote the track together 10 years down the line of our friendship. It was never meant to even be a single but people gave us so much love and support that the label decided to make it one, and that took him to his 9th consecutive top ten single off the album. More than anything I'm hoping it will bring the underground scene a bit more attention, which it fully deserves.

You just came out with your new album, The Real, which you co-wrote. Where did you pull inspiration from for the songs?

The album was released in the UK in October 2012 and is due for release in the USA next month. I wrote most of it with Will Simms but collaborated with various other artists and producers. It was a true labour of love and a joy to make, and is essentially a sensationalized autobiography.

What is your favorite track off The Real and why?

That would be like trying to choose a favorite child, impossible! Beg, Borrow, Steal is the next single to be released in the USA though (via Radikal Records), so we are very excited about that.

Is there a certain story behind Beg, Borrow, Steal?

Absolutely, it it about knowing how you feel about something but also being big enough to admit that you aren't ready to handle it yet, which is something I hope we can all relate to.

The music video for Lethal Dose seems to have a very sinister feel to it. What was the thought process behind making a video so particularly dark?

Coming from the underground and featuring one of the leading artists on the UK grime scene, P Money, the track had to reflect that, and I wanted a departure from the brightness of the previous videos so it made sense to go that way. Plus the lyrics are pretty dark, too.

Out of all of the tracks, Predator comes off as the most aggressive. What was your state of mind when you wrote that track?

That was actually written with Sol Solomon, and it was about someone he knows. Without wanting to get too specific in case we expose anyone, we just drew from his experiences and made it into a track.

Alive is a song that really resonates with a lot of different people. Is it about or dedicated to any certain person?

 The memory of Jim Morrison and my love of The Doors, mostly!

It’s pretty much impossible to listen to Unstoppable and not feel empowered. Did you set out to write an anthem of sorts, or did the lyrics just come naturally?

I was sent the track by Camo & Krooked, old friends and previous collaborators, so I would say the epicness of the track did most of the work on that front, the rest was made to fit around it.

What’s next for you? Any exclusive details you can give us about future projects?

I will be doing a lot more writing, recording and touring, plus the US release of the album and some US tour dates. And I'm always on the lookout for new talent when I start to sign acts for my imprint HUSSLE GIRL in the coming months and years.

Tags: All Access Pass, ayah marar, p. money, calvin harris, jim morrison, the doors, the real, radikal records, thinking about you, sol solomon