This Toronto-based R&B artist should be on everyone’s radar. Aqyila, best known for her trending sounds and her debut EP For The Better, is returning with her highly anticipated new single Bloom on February 9. Effortlessly blending genres with elements of R&B, soul, and pop, she creates a sound that reflects her unique artistry.
This week, Aqyila scored JUNO nominations for Contemporary R&B Recording of the Year and Traditional R&B/Soul Recording of the Year—and we had the opportunity to say hello to her on the JUNOS red carpet!
Aqyila’s dedication to music has most definitely paid off. Recently ending 2023 with an ever-growing 19.5M+ global streams and a debut at #30 on Billboard’s TikTok Top 50 Chart, she is on her way to becoming an R&B staple. She was tapped as an ambassador for TikTok’s #RnBmonth in November 2022 and has since landed opening spots for talented artists Kimbra and Cat Burns.
We connected with Aqyila to discuss her newly released single, her inspirations that draw from the city, and her journey as an artist.
With Bloom and your debut EP, For the Better, there seems to be a noticeable evolution in your sound. How would you describe this progression in your music, and what were your inspirations?
There has been a lot of growth in my sound from my first project to where I am now with Bloom. Growth plays a huge factor in my life as with time, I learn something new about myself. There are different sounds of music that I listen to that inspire me and right now, I’ve been on a very soft, sweet wave. Since this is my second project rollout, I have this as my guide for the sonic flow of this project.
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Toronto has an extremely vibrant music scene. How has the city influenced your music, and are there specific elements of Toronto’s culture that you intentionally incorporate into your work?
Growing up my mom played a lot of soulful music. I often remember hearing her jump between Tamia’s albums, More & her self-titled album. When she wasn’t playing Tamia, she was playing Whitney Houston, Fred Hammond, Fantasia, Alicia Keys & Musiq Soulchild. My dad would play 50 Cent, Buju Banton, Bob Marley & The Wailers. Growing up in a Jamaican household, there was always music playing & I draw inspiration from what I would hear and now, from current music that I discover online.
Walk us through the creative process behind your newest single. What themes were you aiming to capture and how does this differ from your other works?
The creation of Bloom came from a spurt of inspiration. I knew I wanted strings and an orchestral feel. I have a lowkey love for cinematic movie albums and it’s on my bucket list to create a project of just beautiful harmonies and plenty of strings one day.
Jonathan Elkær, the producer, came up with the idea of merging a hip-hop (verses) progression and the ethereal strings you hear on the hook together. Maya J’an Brown, my co-writer on Bloom, and I started humming melody ideas for the song while Jonathan was laying down more instruments.
From the first verse, I knew I wanted to make sure a story was being told. What are those little things you think about when you’re with the person you want to spend your time here on earth with? Why do they love you and vice-versa? All in all, I had chills while creating this song with them. I captured the process on camera and I’m so glad I did.
Do you think platforms like TikTok are changing the way artists approach their music?
Most definitely. TikTok’s impact is reshaping how we discover new music nowadays. I’ve discovered and followed so many talented indie and unsigned artists on that platform. To be honest, not once have I tried to overthink when I post on TikTok. I feel like moments of inspiration are so important to act on, so whenever I feel those moments especially when it comes to my music, I share.
I also remind myself and others that you’ve gotta make sure you’re loving the music you create, those that it resonates with will gravitate to it. There’s a vulnerability that comes from sharing the thoughts in your head and feelings in your heart for the world to hear.
Your songs often resonate deeply with fans. How do you ensure authenticity, and what do you hope listeners take away from your music?
I genuinely am having fun with what I do. I feel there’s a song for every situation and music can be related to so differently. I feel that’s why it makes it easier for so many people to be able to apply my songs to their own lives. It feels good to see the impact that my songs can have.
Looking ahead, what are your aspirations for the rest of 2024? Are there specific milestones or projects you’re excited about sharing with your fans?
For the rest of 2024, I’m excited to get into the groove of live shows again, travel & release some more songs! I have a feeling what song will follow after Bloom and it makes me feel so good about what’s to come. I am also manifesting a few more awards under my belt, but we’ll see what this year has in store!