AYLA considers herself lucky, but this 21 year old singer/songwriter is one of the most focussed artists in Australia right now and her hard work means she deserves every success
Ayla Scanlan is one focused woman. The 21 year old singer/songwriter from the Sunshine Coast, Queensland has been publishing her original works since she was eighteen and it seems that everything she does just works. Her first single Wish I Was received such high praise and attention that it ended up one of triple j's most played songs in 2014. Not only that, a dance remix of that song has clocked up well over two million streams just on Spotify. Another song Like The Other Kids has racked up nearly 900,000 streams on Spotify and deservedly so. The sheer excellence in the craftsmanship of this song is something to be admired and rewarded.
No stranger to festival stages, Ayla has also opened for big acts such as Kate Miller-Heidke. Ayla is currently studying a Bachelor of Music, and picked herself up a world-wide distribution deal with EGO Records in Europe. Her first EP came out last year, with songs headed straight for rotation on triple j, and have been streamed hundreds of thousands of times. Her latest single Shallow End is brilliant and, in between her studies, another collection of songs is finished and she'll be releasing that EP very soon.
This clever and committed woman with a striking voice took some time to tell Music Love all about her pathway so far. AYLA says she considers herself lucky, but actually she is super talented and a very hard worker and deserves all of the good things that come her way. Young musicians, take note of this artist and follow in her footsteps.
What does music mean to you?
I've been singing since I could talk and playing guitar since year three, so music had always been a big part of my life. As time went on, I began to realise that I might be able to make a living out of music - doing what I love. I've been pursuing that since about year eleven, which is when I was starting to get more paid work. At the moment I do music full time, as well as finishing off a Bachelor of Music at QUT. Apart from playing and recording music, I write and rehearse music. It's definitely the biggest part of my life and something that I feel I'll always be doing.
Your new song Shallow End just came out and is receiving rave reviews. What’s your favourite lyric from the new track? And why?
I've never really thought of my favourite lyric before! I suppose the first lyric would be my favourite, as that's what started the whole thing: "I've got a shell with a gravity effect, it keeps trying to pull me back into it". That lyric came out of the feeling of finding difficulty with breaking out of your shell.
You released your first song Wish I Was when you were just eighteen, and it ended up being one of the most played songs on triple j. How did you feel knowing how many people had heard your music?
It's still hard to comprehend! Especially with online listens, streams and views, it's hard to visualise that those equate to real people hearing my music. I feel so incredibly lucky that that first single got picked up, and for everything since.
Has a life in music always been the only option for you? Or do you have other vocational aspirations too?
As I mentioned, I'm just about finished a Bachelor in Music. I've been drawn to the idea of studying Speech Pathology as a way to understand more about the voice and how to use it - and how to help others to use their voices to their fullest potential. So I'm hoping that I can do a Masters in that area.
And what about your family? Did you grow up around music?
My Dad played a lot of Neil Young, John Denver and other great music when I was growing up, but neither of [my parents] actually play music. They've always been very supportive of my music though, and would take me around to every open mic night, jam night and performance opportunity that came up when I was growing up and encouraged me to pursue music. No one in my family is super musical, but my grandpa plays a bit of banjo at some bluegrass jams!
Since your song blew up on triple j in 2014, what have you been up to musically over the past three years?
Recording writing and playing music! It's been amazing to get that platform to be able to build from so that I could put my focus on original music. Before that, I had been doing mostly covers music, which I still enjoy because it's still music, but it's the most incredible feeling to play a show where people come to hear songs that you've written, especially when you see them singing along.
And you have a record deal in Italy!? Apparently your music is really working in Europe.
Yeah, I've got a distribution deal with EGO Records in Italy. That's been an awesome experience, but super weird to comprehend people on the other side of the world listening to my music. They also made a remix EP of the first single I released, Wish I Was, which is a compilation of five different remixes of that song. That kind of electronic music seems to go down really well in Europe and some of those remixes have quite a few listens and got a bit of play in clubs and things over there, which is just so weird and cool.
How was it touring with Kate Miller Heidke?
She's been someone I've looked up to musically for a long time, so it was pretty incredible for me to be able to tour with her. It was my first national tour, and definitely one of the best experiences I've had musically. It was just awesome to watch her play and see what she does on stage. She's awesome!
What was the last thing you saw that blew your mind?
I just saw a picture of a double muscled whippet on facebook, and that was pretty wild.
What is one thing you must have with you when touring?
A reusable water bottle because there are so many plastic water bottles in green rooms at shows and it's so bad! I've used a lot of them in the past, but trying to stick to the reusable now. Also just [music delivery app] Yelp, so I can find good food.
Who are your favourite Australian women in music?
I've always respected and admired female artists like Kate Miller Heide, Sarah Blasko, Missy Higgins, and Katie Noonan, and it's also been really awesome getting to know some of those 'behind the scenes' women in the industry as I've gotten further into it in the last few years. I have a kick-ass manager as well as booking agent and publicist [Vivienne Mellish] who are female and awesome.
You’ve been travelling a lot, but what’s your favourite thing to do when home in Brisbane?
I've been looking after my parents' farm as they're living away at the moment. I go out once a week to check the cows and shift their paddock, and I've been really enjoying it. There's a lovely view out to the surrounding hills and paddocks and it's nice to have a walk outside and be around the animals - they run over when I call them, which makes me happy.
I'm just going to keep recording playing and writing music, because that's what I love doing, and hope that people keep listening, and hopefully enjoying it and maybe even getting something more out it. There's an EP that's all finished up and ready to come out soon, as well as some other exciting things happening in the next few months that will soon be announced!