Ayah Marar has been plying her trade as a singer and songwriter in the electronic world for some time now, and and even if you're not familiar with the name, chances are you're familiar with her voice and her work behind the scenes. Born in Jordan, she moved to the UK at the age of eighteen, and it was there that her music career began to take shape. Since then, she's made a name for herself with huge singles like "Unstoppable" and "Beg Borrow Steal," and her voice has made it on to massive songs like Calvin Harris' "Thinking About You".
Over time, her style has morphed and transitioned between pop and house (with a little bit of everything else thrown in too) but she's recently taken a new direction, and embraced the style of big room electronic music that's been making lots of headlines recently. Her record label, Hussle Girl, has been responsible for some very innovative music, and with such a dynamic resume, we decided it was high time we catch up with the legend herself and talk shop about music, life, and her work with other great artists.
Your voice works really well with EDM, but did you always plan on pairing your vocals with electronic music, or did you have aspirations in other genres as well? Thank you, and yes and no is the answer. Even though my vocal roots started in Drum and Bass, I drifted towards live funk music and more acoustic stuff for a while. I like to keep my options open but my heart belongs to bass.
A lot of our readers will recognize your voice from your feature on Calvin Harris’ hit single “Thinking About You,” but that’s definitely not the first time you’ve worked with him. Tell us a little bit about how you initially got connected with Calvin. We met at a record store I worked at 12 years ago and have been dear friends ever since. We shared a home and wrote music together and I appeared on three tracks on his second album. It's all love and family when it comes to us, and making good music of course!
Your new single, “Beg Borrow Steal,” has a softer edge to it, and is a bit more pop oriented then your earlier work. Is that a sound we can expect to be seeing more of in the future, or do you have another direction planned? Never expect anything with us! I'm fully committed to delivering what people want to hear from me, and that ranges from house to proper, dirty underground bass. My forthcoming EP in the UK is called 'Bass Soldiers" and is a bigger nod to my underground roots and collabs with big boys in the bass scene. I want people to know that when they speak, we listen. Take control.
You emigrated from Jordan to the United Kingdom when you were a teenager. Did the transition have any effect on your taste in music, or did you find yourself listening to the same stuff after you moved to the UK? I had always loved hip-hop and R&B, and I was more exposed to it coming here, but yes the UK was where I discovered and fell in love with DnB!
Growing up, did you ever have a defining experience that made you realize music was your calling? It's never been in question. It's been a part of me since as far back as I can remember. To put it cheesily, it's all I know! And now the opportunities to merge several forms of media with music, run my business, and have all the knowledge from being in the scene so long is massively exciting to me.
With so much success, touring around the world becomes inevitable. During your travels, have you ever come across any places where the fan base and support for your music was greater than you expected it to be? I was blown away with the support I got in my hometown, Amman. It was verging on hysteria! Not what I'm used to, I assure you.
You created your own label, Hussle Girl, as a way to release your own music. What’s it like to have so much creative control over your brand? The highs are high and the lows are super low. It's everything to me. I run it with my business parter Tasha, my web genius Jono and with the advice of manager Ali. It's a real labour of love and something that is giving us the excitement you need to keep playing the game, and being honest about it. I love it to pieces.
Since you're the boss, is it more stressful, or is having the freedom to do what you want make the whole process more relaxed? Both. It's nice to have people I trust that I can hand control to, but as the boss you have to constantly motivate and encourage, as well as bring in opportunities that could be built on. It's a symbiotic relationship.
It doesn't look like you plan on slowing down anytime soon. Do you have any long-term goals that you would like to see come to fruition in the next couple of years? You're quite right there, I don't! It's all I've got, so I plan to see it through. There is a strong movement happening that I want to make sure we are at the forefront of, and that focuses on giving people back the control of what they hear/see, and making sure it's quality all the way. We are in this together!
Listen to Ayah Marar on Pulse Radio