to discuss new album ‘The Year I Turned 21,’

Nigerian Afropop singer-songwriter Ayra Starr joined Nandi Madida via FaceTime on Apple Music 1 to talk about her latest single, the GIVĒON collab “Last Heartbreak Song.” She also discussed her new album, ‘The Year I Turned 21,’ how she subverts expectations, her distinct voice, and more of her favourite collaborations from the album.

Ayra Starr Tells Apple Music How She Subverts Expectations

I always try to surprise even myself, with my moves, to be honest. It can be annoying, because everybody’s like, “Ayra, we expect you to go this way,” but I get bored very easily, and I hate being perceived in a way that people think they know my next move. It’s chess for me; I always want to try something different.

Ayra Starr Tells Apple Music About Developing Her Distinctive Voice

I’ve always had the voice I have now—even my talking voice would be very deep as a child. When I was in the choir, my choirmaster couldn’t believe my voice was like that. He’d tell me, “You’re a lady! Try to sing in soprano.” I was like, “What?! I can’t sing in soprano—this is my voice!” It’s been[an] on-and-off thing, but I’ve always known my voice and the sound of it has always been unique.

Ayra Starr Tells Apple Music About Her Asake Collab, “Goodbye (Warm Up)

I was in the studio with [producer] P2J. He was like, “I have this song; I don’t know if you’re going to like it,” because he’d had it for a long time and he [wasn’t] sure about it. Every time I hear somebody say they’re not sure about a song, I just automatically love the song, because it feels like a challenge—if you don’t like it, I’m gonna make you love this song.

I was obsessed with this song. I remember I travelled to Zimbabwe the next day [after recording], and I was playing it everywhere. Everywhere I went, I was listening to it. This was even before Asake’s verse. Asake’s verse made it so perfect.

Ayra Starr Tells Apple Music About Her Anitta & Coco Jones Collab, “Woman Commando”

Woman Commando” is one of my favourite tracks that I’ve ever made. The energy of it—it feels influenced by every African genre I grew up listening to. I remember when I first made this song in the studio, I was like, “I want two other girls on this song, because I don’t want to be the only one saying ‘Woman Commando’. I want three young women just killing it.”

I already had Coco Jones’ verse—I sent Coco an R&B track and she said, “Ayra… I want to be on your vibe.” Say less! I sent her the [“Woman Commando”] track; Coco sent me a verse in a week and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. She held her own so much, like she didn’t feel the need to come into my vibe. She just held her own American beauty, she was just so amazing on that track. Anitta was the last verse of the album to come in. When it came in I was like, “Thank god, guys. I’ve blown! I’ve made it.”

Ayra Starr Tells Apple Music About Her GIVĒON Collab, “Last Heartbreak Song”

That song is so perfect. One of the songs that I’ve made that I’m just so proud of. You know me and GIVĒON were talking about it and we were like, “This song is giving melancholy, but at the same time it’s giving like… I’ll be good.” It’s also kind of inspiring, even though it’s so sad and sombre. It feels good to love somebody and somebody loves you back, but this feels one-sided now… you know, it’s so heartbreaking but it’s so inspiring because it’s fine—I’ll be better on my own. I’ll be good. I feel like GIVĒON’s verse—I couldn’t have got a more perfect verse. When I heard it, I was crying. I was in the car and I couldn’t believe what I was listening to. I had to re-record my verse, because he ate too much!


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