It’s pronounced “air-tn”.
Be mindful of this and make sure you have practised saying it to yourself in the mirror, because ayrtn is the artist that is going to be on everyone’s lips in 2022.
ayrtn is still young, but in a short space of time he has already proved so much. Coming out of South East London, ayrtn has been producing music since the age of 12 years old, and has never looked back since. After uploading beats to soundcloud, he soon realised that he was the best candidate to rap over them.
With hits such as ‘EDGAR DAVIDS’, ‘south’ and of course, the underground anthem, ‘Alone’, ayrtn has grown a cult following. With his charisma, unique flows, and one-of-a-kind production style, there is a reason he is known as “Special A” . With 2022 set to be his best year yet, having just dropped “CAUTION” and with a new project in the pipeline, Gideon Lee caught up with ayrtn to have a chat.
Ayrtn you’re back! After a year long wait, you’ve come out with your new single ‘CAUTION!’ How has the past year been for you? What have you been up to? How does it feel to drop music again?
I’m back for real! It’s been a lot of ups and downs during my break. Many moments of doubt but without the rain you can’t appreciate the sun, so ultimately it’s been beautiful…I’ve spent my hiatus establishing my new sound and how I can deliver it to the people in the best way possible. I’m feeling confident and ready now, I hope the people have the same energy. It feels like home being back.
I can tell from your demeanour and the quality of music that you have released that you really care about everything you put out. What does your creative process look like from inception to completion?
I’m an artist and I believe every artist has a code which influences their process. Mine is simply to not let go of anything that I’m not 100% happy with. It’s easy to over do it when you’re trying to complete a project, but I always run my own race to ensure the end product is the best it can be. Taking inspiration and learning from your favourite artist is also a major key but be cautious, that can be overdone too.
Your music is certainly very unique. It is rare for an artist to be an equally skilled rapper and producer. What’s the story behind this? Which started first and which do you spend more time doing?
I started producing before I wrote my first lyrics. I soon realised the beats I make and the pace I make them at, no one can really keep up with it or rhyme on them the way I do so I took it upon myself. And I never looked back since. I still call myself a producer till this day but I’m fully aware that I’m a lot better at rapping, even though I enjoy producing a lot more.
You have a signature electronic sound which is very distinct. Which producers/artists have inspired the development of your sound? What would you say to younger, budding producers who are striving to create their own sound?
I’ve always been into electronic hip-hop and dance music. Pharrell Williams, KAYTRANADA, Kanye West, MF DOOM and Madlib hold the most major positions in terms of who inspires my production. To all the younger producers out there getting into production, one thing I’d say is don’t overthink it and simply make the music / beats that you like. The people will gravitate towards your energy.
Has music always been a central part of your life? What stuff did you listen to growing up, and what stuff did you do outside of music?
I’ve always known that I wanted to be in the creative field of music but wasn’t sure what it was specifically. It’s a blessing that it’s turned out the way it has. Growing up in a household like mine, you’d hear a lot of Soul, R&B, Hip-hop and music from my Congolese heritage. But I’d listen to Jazz, Jazz rap, and electronic music by myself. Never really done anything outside of music apart from sports.
For better or for worse, social media has become part of the package of being an artist. What is your view on how social media has changed music?
I think it’s good if you work with it. It’s a sick opportunity for artists to express themselves visually and vocally as opposed to the previous limits of not being able to flex your muscles visually. If you’re wavey, people will see it, if you’re not, people will see it, and that’s good because you get a lot more out of the artist.
Who’s someone that inspires you outside of music? And Why?
My Dad, he’s the goat. A great teacher and listener.
Your live performances are crazy. What’s the buildup to a show look like for you? Are you nervous? Excited?
Most of the time I’m excited, knowing people have paid tickets to come and see me perform, I don’t see how I can be nervous. I’m always buzzing to see the beautiful faces of the attendees and put on an unmatched vibe for them.
What are some of the best live shows you’ve been to?
Kendrick Lamar in 2016 on his “DAMN.” tour. Everything from set design, to the songs he played, to the energy in the arena, and even his outfit, it was all very well put together. You can tell it was really carefully thought through and that’s something I admire as an artist.
The London underground music ‘scene’ is a very interesting and fertile one at the moment, where do you see it going in the future? And which of your contemporaries inspire you?
You recently tweeted – “I’m too above this rap shit” Where do you see yourself heading in the future? Do you see yourself always rapping?
By that, I mean I don’t even feel like I’m rapping anymore honestly. I just be speaking. And I wouldn’t box myself in and say I’m a rapper. I’m an artist. I can drop an album of just beats, I can drop an EP that doesn’t even feature my vocals. I’m honestly above this rap shit, respectfully.
You’ve been driving home that now is a new era for ayrtn – What did you hope to achieve with this upcoming project? What can we expect? What’s different?
A whole different world of sounds, crisp production laced with crazy flows and bars. Not just any bars though, I want people to find a home in my lyrics. So pretty much I’m still doing what I’ve always been but just at a higher level.
What’s on the horizon for 2022?
Music, music, music, videos, videos, videos, product, product, product. I want to make all my ideas come into fruition.
Finally, you’re reading back this article in 10 years time. What do you want to say to the ayrtn of 2032?
With unrivalled musical prowess coupled with his natural showmanship, ayrtn should be on every music aficionados radar.
‘CAUTION!’ is out now on all streaming platforms. Watch the video here.
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