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Get To Know: Iyamah

Ahead of her forthcoming project’s arrival ‘The Truth Pt.2’ EP, the songstress has gifted us with the first song off of it’s tracklist entitled ‘Won’t work’. So New Wave caught up with the songstress to get to know the woman behind the music...

The story of Sophie Bond - better known by the moniker of Iyamah - begins in the bustling seaside city of Brighton. Born to interracial parents: a British Mother and her late Father who was a Nigerian-English man. Like most bi-racial children she found the task of pin pointing her individual identity quite burdening; which was perpetuated by being the anomaly within her predominantly white surroundings, during her formative years.

Leaning on the creativity, the cultural-appreciation and the festival traditions woven into her hometown’s vibrant spirit. She started to pick up trinkets of her musical identity through the sounds of; African drumming, the reggae nights her mother would take her to and the vibrations emitting from the emergence of dub and d’n’b. Speaking more in-depth about her childhood, she told us: “My mum was an artist; a lover of music and of culture, so I was certainly a more creative kid. She encouraged me to do whatever I wanted to do. We travelled a lot and went to a lot of music festivals so there was always music playing in the house from all around the world. Also my auntie was a west African dancer, she inspired me massively but I think Brighton is a pretty creative place. Music has always been there for me, being an only child, as well as being the only mixed-race kid around. Music was like an outlet, to sing and dance, a safe place to channel all the emotions of a highly sensitive girl into something more meaningful.”

Leaving the sand, sea and gulls behind her; the singer moved to London with the the intention of immersing herself further into her father’s heritage. Once she had arrived, she grew accustomed to the capital’s overflowing melting pot of culture and was startled by her findings that she wasn’t so different after all. Sharing her experiences on transitioning to city living she said, “well It’s funny because at first I thought I wouldn’t like it as there’s no sea. I miss the sea so bad... but now I love parks! You adjust to the speed of it, and the rush you get when you’re busy all the time. Finding the right people, feeling stable and happy at the same time. Now I can’t really imagine living anywhere else.. for a while anyway. It definitely took me a couple years to really feel like I was on the right path, but I’m certainly on it now.“

I think it’d be fair to say the path she’s taking right now, was somewhat destined from the start. Over the years the singer would transition from the earthy sonics of world music and submerge herself into into “a combination of many different sounds and genres” she’d been “drawn to at different phases” of her life. Specifically citing her soulful cadence to the influence of legendary names like “Aretha Franklin, Etta James and Whitney Houston.” She explains, “I’ve always been drawn to female singers since I can remember; from Amy Winehouse, Alicia Keys, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Beyoncé and of course Lauryn Hill.”

Now, she combines all of the influences aforementioned with her affinity for old school hip-hop from the likes of “The Roots, Mos Def and A Tribe Called Quest”.

Describing herself as always being “very driven” and a “massive dreamer”. We delved deeper into the driving factors of her artistry and her purpose as a musician. “I just like to think outside the box and create my own way of doing things, because I’ve always found that things are way bigger than me. I’m part of something where I need my voice to be heard.. It's hard to explain! But being an artist means you have your own platform and I’ve always had a lot to say about so much... I have a busy mind so I have to put it all somewhere! But there are so many more reasons behind it, I think singing is a huge release for me and writing songs is my therapy. When I first started sharing my songs, I saw how people needed them, it gives them that same feeling I had when I wrote it. It brings people together, and that’s exactly what the world needs, to feel like it’s connected, like we’re all sharing the same feeling, and we are all part of the same thing.”

A reoccurring message conveyed through Iyamah’s music is that of female empowerment, self care and worth. Detailing her lows with great eloquence, she brings a strong sense of security to the listener. We asked the singer why drawing inspiration from her personal life is important to her, “watching these powerful black women, who had so much strength, made me feel like I could be anything. I never felt like that, I always felt so weak and scared, shy, nervous. It’s taken me my whole life to figure out why that is. I want to share my reasons and help other women know their worth and own it. It’s time, because we have so much we have to offer to the world. We have so much to give, being more emotional, but sometimes we maybe don’t put it into the right places. When women know their own power, learn how to love themselves, and those around them, it’s the most amazing thing to see. I think it’s exactly what the world is calling for, more powerful women in powerful positions to step up and get shit moving in the right way.”

With the sequel to her debut EP entitled, ‘The Truth’ on it’s way we can only assume that her soulful prowess will see her accumulating even more accolades and recognition than the first. 2019 was a crazy year for the songstress, her hit single ‘Cake’ and her first project’s release saw her; selling out her first headline show, playing at the legendary Jazz Cafe, the Lexington (twice), festivals and appearances in Paris and Dublin. When asked what moment she was most proud of she responded, “I’m super proud of my headline show, I had all my friends and family there, and if I’m honest it wasn’t the best performance of mine because I was so stressed and nervous ha! However it sold out in 24 hours and I felt like it was a milestone for me. When it was all over, I looked back and couldn’t believe how far I’d come.”

When asked about the direction of the project, she shared, “well some of the songs are pretty old but I always knew they resonated with Truth EP1. So I just had to write the songs I felt were missing, like a puzzle. It’s still very raw, as it’s still very much the beginning of my career and still part of my first project, my roots.

In Truth EP2 I’m more accepting of myself, more empowered and strong in what I want, and what I know is best for me. You can hear that in the music, it’s more punchy and has more drive/ backbone. I think the music is probably a bit more developed because I had way more control over how it sounded and found my own direction as an artist.”

“Due to lockdown, I recorded basically all the vocals in my flat on my own, and co-produced pretty much all of the songs so many of them started literally just as a drum loop and some guitar. I really feel like I’ve grown a lot as an artist from making this project and I really put my everything I had into the songs, so I’m super proud that I'm able to say Truth as a full project is complete… or maybe there’s more of it who knows!”

To listen to Iyamah’s lastest track Won‘t Work here.

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