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INTERVIEW: Wiyaala

Hi Wiyaala, welcome to Vents! How have you been?

Hello Vents! I am fine…..but cold lol! I’ve just come from Ghana to the UK for my European tour and finding the weather a little chilly! Otherwise everything is working out fine. I have been making preparations for the tour with the band and my new video for Sun & Moon has just dropped. My Facebook fans are loving it!

Can you talk to us more about your new single Peace.

Yes of course. Peace is off my self-titled album “Wiyaala”. I guess the title of the song suggests what it is about and like many musicians past and present, Peace is something very dear to our hearts. I actually wrote the song back in my village many years ago and it is just now I got to record it.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write the song?

No, not really. It was just the general state of things. The angle I was coming from was that it’s the young people who are manipulated to go to war on behalf of older corrupt people who have money. So in the song in my own language, Sissala, I am saying, my young brothers and sisters don’t listen to those who will give you a gun and money to go to war on their agenda.

Any Plans to Release a video for the single?

Yes we are working on some ideas. We are thinking about a 3d graphics kind of thing. But its just ideas at this moment.

The single comes off your new self-titled album – why naming the album after you?

In my own language my name, Wiyaala, means “The Doer”. So it seemed a good title for the album. Of course there were some commercial reasons as well. I am also known as “The Young Lioness of Africa”, so on the album art we designed my face in the shape of a lioness head and placed the Wiyaala logo on top of that so that the branding would be very visible.

How Was The Writing And Recording Process

As I mentioned, I originally wrote the song many years ago in my village. We went to South Africa to record with JurgenVonWechmar at Sunset Recording Studios in Stellenbosch because we felt he could deliver the sound we were looking for. If you listen to the song, in the verses you will notice how the traditional sound and melody of the African xylophone is emphasised. In the choruses, we bring in synths and technology to create a very dark effect to emphasise the horror of war. This reflects much of what is going on in the album. It’s a juxtaposition of the traditional with the modern. Combining my tribal language and instruments with English and modern music technology.

How are you hoping to conquer America and beyond?

I have absolutely no idea! But seriously, for me, it’s a matter of getting the stages to perform on. What has worked for me so far is live performance and the networking opportunities that brings. I’ve been entertaining since I was a very small girl – so give me a stage and I’m entirely at home. I have got something lined up in Los Angeles in October. So maybe that will be the start!

Known for singing in two different languages – do you tend to blend the two together or depending on the song’s message and meaning would you rather sing in Sissala or English.

It’s all about the sound. Sissala is a very beautiful language to sing in with natural rithymand alliterative qualities. Sometimes I bring in English so that my audience will have some idea of the overall meaning of the song. I think the Peace song is a very good example of this. You know what the song is about because of the small English I use in it. But I would say the sound of my Sissala language is amazing. I’m very proud of that quality inherent in our language. But overall it depends on each individual song. It’s a case by case thing.

In what way has your upbringing have influence on this album?

In every way. I grew up speaking local dialects. I grew up with those problems we have in the more remote West African villages. Lack of infrastructure such as electricity until a few years ago. Places where you have to walk a kilometre with a bucket of water on your head for the house. Places where there is child marriage, FGM and limited educational opportunities. Yet at the same time, there is much to respect about the traditional African way of life. That wisdom is reflected in my song, Sun & Moon. Then there is the fun and sense of community that we had as children which I tell of in my song Siiko. Seek out the translations of these songs and you will see how I’ve put my upbringing to music. But there is more to it than that. Occasionally we would get to see videos of Madonna and Michael Jackson. I would imitate them like crazy in my performances in the compound house for my family and friends. Western pop culture was also an influence. Even though I didn’t know it then.

Any Plans to Hit The Road?

Of course! Dortmund 4th June, Hamburg 9th June, Berlin 10th June, Aarhus 11th June, Frankfurt 18th June and don’t forget Womad in the UK on the 29th July where before performing I will be cooking a Ghanaian dish for the festival goers!

What Next is happening in Wiyaala’s world?

I’ve got another album coming out next year. We are well into production as all the songs have been written. I decided to record again in South Africa and I think the album will show growth as an artiste.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, play guitar, music geek, movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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