With her new single and video out now, Iyamah shares five tracks that have influenced her sound.
Exuding soulful resplendence ‘Won’t Work’ sees Iyamah self-assured and empowered. Her rich, honeyed vocals flow through the track accompanied by majestic jazz flourishes and laid-back R&B beats to craft a shimmering summery sound. ‘Won’t Work’ encapsulates and channels Iyamah’s new-found feminine power taking her irresistible soulful intonations to new heights.
The track is accompanied by a self-directed, styled and produced video; speaking on this process, Iyamah details “Shooting the video for ‘Won’t Work’ was an experience! I was alone with nothing to hand but my vision, a camera person and some gorgeous Indian markets. I styled, directed and starred in the video, I even got involved with post production as It was so important to me to make sure that this video was a true reflection of the song and myself.”
Get to know Iyamah In Five…
1. Me, Myself & I – Beyoncé
Beyoncé was one of the first empowering women I had as a young girl to look up to, who really made me feel like I could do anything and take over the world. Everything from her lyrics, production, to the videos was always spot on perfection, and she is the definition of a ‘boss’, completely in power of her own. This taught me that I didn’t need anyone else but myself to get what I deserved! The fierceness and strength in her vocals really drive you to step into control.
2. Seed Will Grow – Ms. Dynamite ft. Ky-Mani Marley
This song for me has never ever got old. I listen to it everyday and have done for years, and yet it still sounds fresh and new as anything. Something about the simplicity of the beat, the rawness of the production and the husk of Ky-mani’s vocals which blend so well with Ms. Dynamite’s. She has such a real and true attitude in the way she sings that’s almost like she’s talking directly to you, and Ky-mani speaks straight to your soul. The concept of comparing us to seeds that will grow always inspired me heavily, because it’s true that any idea you have, can become something way bigger. I’ve written many songs about this concept, and I’ve realised it must have been because of this song planted in my brain!
3. Jarabi – Sona Joberteh
My auntie Irene did a performance with this lady once, and I really was blown away by her talents. Growing up I didn’t know much about my African roots, so it was music that gave me that sense of belonging, because the instrumentation really spoke to me in a different way to anything else. The harmonies in the vocals gave a sense of unity, purpose and strength, but there’s a reason for calling in her songs, like she’s really speaking to your heart. When I heard this music, everything seemed to make sense to me. Who I am, where I was from, and why I do what I do. This music is so different to hiphop, yet so similar at the same time. The rhythm, percussiveness of the music, the urgency, the control and virtuoso playing is truly inspiring. I was lucky to be introduced to music like this that was so guiding and meaningful. West African music really is something else. One day I hope to go there myself, and collaborate with sounds I’ve heard just like in this song.
4. Nneka – Africans
Nneka is another timeless soul, so raw. Probably the rawest kind you can find in fact, yet direct and simple. I always loved this song because the guitar chords used almost speak for themselves, and then the husk in her vocals (which I definitely have a thing for) cuts completely through and fills the entire space. It’s not like her voice is cute and sweet, but it hits in so many different ways. You can hear the suffering that she is speaking about, and for her people she is speaking up for – Africa. It’s the first time I really understood that pain is passed down, and carried for generations. It also showed me that you don’t need a lot of production in the music to really get people to listen, and in fact it’s quite the opposite. When you strip everything away, you’re left with the truth behind the message. Just the song and your thoughts. This song is powers.
5. Kendrick Lamar – Sing About Me I’m Dying Of Thirst
Kendrick really taught me a lot about rhythm, how hip-hop can still have a story, In fact hip-hop has more of a story than probably any genre, because it’s coming from such a deep place of pain. Although hip-hop can sometimes be aggressive, Kendrick was always so honest and vulnerable a lot of the time, sharing his fears of being forgotten, but also writing about death and loss. I turned to music because this was the place that I was writing about too, yet I didn’t feel ashamed anymore to write about what I really wanted to say, after discovering this album. There’s a sense of unity in how the vocals entwine so cleverly with the drums, like the vocal is just another part of the instrumentation, bouncing from one beat to the next. Yet there’s loneliness in the lyrics and what’s being said, like when you’re listening to the song, it’s only you who’s really understanding what he’s saying. We are brought back to reality with the other instruments that remind you this is part of something bigger, how the BV’s and the keys give repetitive but memorable melodies, that we hear again and again throughout the song.