Breaking in to the music industry is not easy, but Alexis Ayanna is determined to make her mark. We had the opportunity to speak with the lovely 20-year-old about what sets her apart from other artists, her Latin and West Indian infused sound and not giving up on getting an education despite her musical endeavors and accomplishments.
Cotten Kandi: When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist?
Alexis Ayaana: I realized I wanted to be a singer or more so an entertainer when I was about 7 or 8. I always liked to sing. I was the kid who chose to write songs and always wanted to perform in front of people for any school/family events. It’s something as a kid you just say you want to do but I actually ended up sticking to that idea of what I wanted to be in life.
CK: As a Latina and West Indian, who are some of your musical influences and why?
AA: At this time my music doesn’t embody much of my Latin/West Indian roots. I want to eventually take it down that road. When I am able to mix my sounds that have influences of Salsa, Soca, Reggae or Bachata; I want it to show empowerment of my heritage. When it comes to Spanish music and West Indian music, I have noticed that the music always represents the people. Those artists are very proud of where they come from and who they are as Caribbean’s as a whole. Being a black Latina I would look up to Celia Cruz because she was one as well. She recognized her love for her heritage, and was proud of her African roots in addition to being proud of her Latin-ness as a Cuban. She was 100% of both and her music reflected not neglected it. Bob Marley for the West Indians is one of those people to this day that is talked about and it’s because of what he brought to the table that was different. His music showcased his views on the world, and how the world could be much better. I don’t want to emulate their sounds, but more so their messages.
CK: What do you think makes you unique or different from other urban pop artists and artists from the A?
AA: What makes me different from any other urban pop artists is my diversity and fearless approach to experimenting with my direction and sound. At times, musical artist can become complaced and comfortable where they want to channel one lane and not experiment with their sound in fear of making a mistake and not just doing what they feel which in turn hinders them.
CK: What career highlights have you experienced so far and how has that motivated you?
AA: My first career height would be hearing my first single playing on the radio. It was very exciting; I was driving in the car listening to it while the entire city heard it. It can be exciting and overwhelming all at once. Another career height I would have to say is when I went to this college party last year around this time, and my song had played while I was there. I saw a whole different reaction of it than I did a few months prior to that when I really started promoting it. People knew it and were dancing while some of the girls were singing the words. That was something that made me happy because it was a real reaction from people and made me think that this is all going to be worth it.
CK: What have been some lows and do you ever feel like quitting?
AA: Some lows would be recognizing when things are moving slower. Or when I’m not doing as much as I previously was, so it feels like things aren’t working. Also, seeing other talent who are in my age demographic, and have excelled can discourage me at time. When this test tends to cause any tension, I like to remember that success takes time and it does not go by anyone else’s time, so I channel in patience more. I have to refocus myself and think about all I’ve accomplished in only 2 years. Also, when I’ve been on a social media outlet and I see negative comments towards me I have to understand those gossip pages are built on negativity and to just block it out.
CK: How do you manage having a music career while attending college?
AA: It’s pretty easy managing school with music since I decided the most effective manner was to switch to online classes versus being required to be physically in a classroom. When I attended Clark Atlanta, I had to go part time and wasn’t going to finish on time. Teachers wanted you to never miss classes, and none of them understood or cared about what I wanted to do in life and weren’t willing to cooperate with my schedule. Taking online classes, I do my work on my own time so it’s way less stressful.
CK: What made you decide to pursue Fashion Merchandising? Is that your plan B if your music career doesn’t pan out?
AA: In a way, yes, it is for a back-up plan. Outside of music, I love fashion, more so as the creative director or brand executive while enhancing my skills within the business of fashion. If I do make it, I can easily apply my major to my career by starting clothing lines, collaborating with other designers and helping to market it to my fan base.
CK: Your sound and look can be a little risqué and raunchy at times, is that intentional? How would you describe your image or the kind of image you want to have?
AA: At times, it can be risqué, but it’s never distasteful. Fortunately, my team puts in the right strategy, and develop me as an artist fully so I know I don’t want my image to be based on sex, being raunchy, and even unappealing. Those aren’t my intentions
CK: What are some of your long-term career goals for your music career?
AA: My long term goals are to build a great music catalogue, as well as, to establish longevity in the music business. I don’t want to have a fleeting career, and not make an impact. I want to not only sing, but get into acting and modeling as well.
CK: Any projects you’re currently working on?
AA: I’m working on a new project. The release is approaching soon, and it’s being executive produced by Drumma Boy. He’s great to work with, and gives me the sounds that I am looking for as I transition and grow more into my career. I try and remain consistent with not keeping my musical abilities boxed. As we are in preparation and planning stages, I have been expanding my network in the music industry, and working constantly in the studio with my team on great new music
CK: Anything else you want people to know about you?
AA: Sure, you can follow me on Twitter or Instagram at @alexisayaana. I am always updating social media on what I am doing, and when fans can expect new music to drop etc. Please download my new music off iTunes and google play as well.