• Blessing Borode

Tay Iwar Finds Solace In Self-Healing Through His EP 'Love And Isolation [Interview]

In the midst of chaos Tay Iwar delivers a soothing five track EP titled Love & Isolation.

Photo credit: Almass Badat

The singer-songwriter and producer combines many elements of R&B and afrobeats birthing a sound he calls ‘Afro-fusion’. Throughout the project he meticulously pairs neo-soul piano chords along with minimalist rhythms and evocative lyrics about his reflections on love, exploring themes like doubt, intimacy and longing. This is his sixth body of work and the most romance-tinged offering he has shared with us thus far.

At just 23 years old, Iwar has already released four solid albums, the first being Passport which was back in 2014 and the third, the highly esteemed Gemini released under the LA-based collective Soulection. With each new release it becomes impossibly hard to ignore the expansion of his range and the melodies he uses to tell tales of his lived experiences and his self reflections. Iwar recently made an appearance on Wizkid’s stellar album Made In Lagos on the track True Love alongside dancehall artist Projexx where he soars across the afro-reggae production in his sultry tone, declaring the warmth he feels from a lover.

This same exploration of romance is translated throughout the EP - the piano-led opener, YOGA, features Nigerian-French artist Asa who appears in the later moments of the track over a soundscape that is layered with harmonies and echoic guitar licks. Further into the EP Iwar quickens the pace with the rhythmic title FEEL featuring the soothing croons of Lou Val and Insightful. The collaborations across this EP gives a conversational feel as they provide their own perspective on the topic at hand but just as you settle into the flow of the project we reach the final track titled PEAKING. The leading single sees him yearning to be with a romantic interest during periods of isolation but as the song progresses this sends him into a spiral of overthinking. Love And Isolation is an experience that ends too soon but it tells a consistent story that is steeped realism.

Tay Iwar also produced three out of five of the tracks present on the EP so it’s clear that he takes pride in his attention to detail, delivering a textured soundscape of lush harmonies, atmospheric guitar strums and seductive lyricism. New Wave had a moment to briefly catch up with Tay Iwar over email as he shared some insight into the creation of the EP, his evolution as a songwriter and more. Tap in below…

Yoga is actually a song I started in 2016 and I had Asa in mind but I kept the song til the right time.

NW: How have you found navigating yourself through the year we’ve had?

TI: Well it's been okay, life feels more dynamic as in, change is more in the forefront, I thought it’ll hurt my music creation but it only made me tap in more.

NW: What are some of your earlier experiences with music?

TI: My first experience with music was at home with my parents, they always made sure my brothers and I played at least one instrument.

NW: You started making music aged 13 but what made you certain that this was your calling?

TI: I really started making music around 5 years old, but I composed my first full song at 13. few things are certain in life and I knew when I made the decision, you have to decide who you want to be.

NW: Congrats on the release of your new EP ‘Love & Isolation’. How did you manage to remain creative and inspired through the lockdown?

Creativity is very accessible and abundant, we were locked down but the world was active as ever, electrified even.

NW: The EP also features some amazingly talented musicians like Asa and Xenia Manasseh. How did you decide if these features were the right fit for the project?

TI: Well Yoga is actually a song I started in 2016 and I had Asa in mind but I kept the song til the right time. Yoga and Satisfied off (the album) 'Gemini' were initially one song and Asa was going to be in the middle of the two songs with a different vibe, it was supposed to be like a 10min experience but I simplified it.

I met Xenia while in Kenya for my debut east African concert. Faiza Hersi of Nairobi R&B put me on to her and got us a session and we got to it almost immediately. I already had a demo of parts of the song produced by Doozy so we just rolled into it.

NW: You have a rich musical palette, pulling from R&B, Reggae, Afropop and more. What sounds are you specifically channeling in this project?

TI: For this EP I channeled peace and tranquility, my mind doesn’t work in genres. I’m always trying to create emotions and I try to keep it fluid by not thinking about categories.

NW: Is there a lyric or verse that really stands out to you in this EP?

TI: To me everything stands out, its not important what lyric I think stands out, there's multiple expressions in this EP and I’d hope people experience as much as they can.

I feel anyone that makes art is vulnerable because you open yourself to a different type of judgement when you express yourself creatively

NW: You’ve previously said that emotions play a big part in your music. Has it always been easy to display vulnerability through your music?

TI: I feel anyone that makes art is vulnerable because you open yourself to a different type of judgement when you express yourself creatively, every release is nerve racking but thats not a bad thing.

NW: Your last full length album ‘Gemini’ came to us in 2019. Since then, how do you think you have evolved as a songwriter overall?

TI: I’ve been simplifying a lot and definitely a lot more collaboration than ever. I’ve also been writing for different artists.

NW: You were also featured on Wizkid’s ‘Made In Lagos’ album on the track ‘True Love’. Can you talk us through the creative process of putting that song together?

TI: Juls sent me the beat on whatsapp and I threw it in Logic and recorded then sent it was for his album initially, then he added the projexx verse then played it for Wiz and he loved it and they finished the song.

NW: A lot of your music is self-produced too, what are some things that you’ve learnt about yourself as an artist by having full control of your music?

TI: It takes a lot longer to finish an album.

NW: You founded the Bantu Collective alongside your brothers. Can you tell us a bit about what this is and why you started it?

TI: BANTU was started in 2013 as an art collective focused on high quality production and collaboration.

NW: Aside from music, what else has been a tool for your self-healing?

TI: My family & my friends

NW: What are you currently working on?

TI: Whole lotta heat

Stream Love And Isolation below:

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