You have a very beautiful exotic look. What does your ethnic background consist of?
Aysha - I am Black, Japanese and Sicilian.
Tell me what it was like growing up in San Jose, California.
Aysha - I was born in San Jose, CA but spent most of my childhood years growing up in Santa Barbara, CA. Santa Barbara was very laid back for the most part. I enjoyed growing up there but I felt I grew out of what it had to offer me and my music career so I made the move to Los Angeles in 1995.
Did you always dream of being a singer?
Aysha - I can remember wanting to be a singer as far back as 3rd grade, but I remember my best friend telling me that I couldn’t sing. It wasn’t until I was 17 that I really found my voice and auditioned for my first band.
Are you still currently a mortgage loan officer? If so, how do you find time to balance it with your singing career?
Aysha - Yes, I am still a mortgage loan officer, but unfortunately right after I got my real estate license, the real estate market crashed and the company I was working for closed it’s doors along with many other companies. I now am an independent loan officer with a company based out of San Diego but have been inactive due to the market. So in answer to your question, I have plenty of time to concentrate on my music, which is what I prefer anyway!
Talk to me about the female group you began with and why you decided to pursue a solo career.
Aysha - Over the years I had been with several bands, the last being an all girl Hip-Hop/R&B band which I helped form along with a member of a previous band and we called ourselves “Girls In The Mix” and we had become very popular in the Santa Barbara county area. We got the opportunity to open for Zapp with Roger and War. We were invited to the local radio station for a live interview where we got to sing a cappella. We wrote our own songs and choreographed our dance moves. It was a lot of fun and I learned so much while in that group. While in the group we entered and won Battle of the Bands and I was approached by an artist development and distribution company based out of Los Angeles who was very interested in doing a solo project with me. He made it clear that he was not interested in the whole group and only wanted to work with me. I had already been considering moving to Los Angeles so it seemed like the right thing to do for my music career since being in Santa Barbara could get me only so far. Unfortunately after I left the group, they never found a replacement for me, and the group split.
Where are the other members today?
Aysha - I’ve kept in contact with the member that helped me form the group and she is now doing Christian music. Her husband who wrote our tracks produces and also writes for her.
Which artists, if any, had the biggest influence on your style development?
Aysha - I think the two biggest influences of my style and music would have to be Sade and Phyllis Hyman. I love Sade’s style. Classy but sexy and her voice goes right along with her look. Phyllis Hyman had such an incredible voice that you could hear so much emotion and feel what she was singing. She could really tell a story with her voice. She is one of the greats!!
What is unique about you that separates you from the competition?
Aysha - My style is different. There is a mixture of old school R&B, Jazz and Soul in my music. When people ask me what kind of music I sing, I tell them I’m R&B with a jazzy edge. I call it “grown folks music”. It’s smooth and something to chill at home with.
Do you write you own songs?
Aysha - Yes, I write my own lyrics and wrote the majority of the songs on my CD. I really feel it’s important to have a big part in the song writing because it allows me to really put my heart into it. I wish I played an instrument so I could write the music as well!
You have an independently released CD entitled “Love Is A Rock” out right now. Give us some insight on what this CD has to offer.
Aysha - This CD is all about love, the good and the bad. It’s pretty much a story of my life during some great times and not so great times during a relationship I was in while I was putting this project together. Two of the songs were specifically written about and for this person. Those songs are “Honey” and “Don’t Make Me Say Good-Bye”. The songs are a good mix of R&B, Jazz and even a little Hip Hop making it interesting throughout the CD. For the most part though, I would consider this CD something that you would want to sit back and chill with.
Who produced the CD?
Aysha - The CD wasn’t produced by only one person, in fact, there were six different producers: Donald Tavie, Monty Seward, DeAndre “Teddy” Mason, Darryl “Free” Freeman, Len Sharman and myself.
You’ve worked with some very high profile producers and arrangers also. Who were they and what did you learn from working with them?
Aysha - Yes, I’ve been very fortunate to work with some great people in the industry. The first producer I worked with was Monty Seward who has been Howard Hewett’s music director and producer for many, many years along with several other well known artists. He also writes music for TV. Monty was the one who really helped me develop my style initially. What I learned from him I took and developed what I am today. He is now a very good friend and I will be using his talents on my next project!
I’ve also had the pleasure and honor of working with Kevin Dorsey who is an amazing producer, vocalist and music director. He spent many years with Michael Jackson as one of his music directors and has done numerous movies and voiceovers for Disney, which includes The Lion King. Kevin was the best at bringing things out in me that I didn’t know I had in my voice. By the time we would finish recording a song I would be amazed, saying “That’s me? Wow!” Unfortunately the songs we recorded were unable to be released for profit but they can be heard on my myspace page. Those songs are “Keep On Loving Me”, “Dreamin” and “I Remember Your Love”.
Another great producer and arranger as well as an artist himself, is Donald Tavie (Tavie). He is best known for his affiliation with the Old School band Lakeside. He plays the keyboards and is one of the lead vocals with the group. He also just released his solo project this past year. He has produced and arranged for Norman Connors, Lisa Fisher and many others. He did a wonderful arrangement of Send For Me and it’s one of my favorites on my CD.
I must tell you that I love the remake of Atlantic Starr’s “Send For Me”. Why did you decide to do your own version and was it difficult to get the song cleared for remake through the record label?
Aysha - When I was working with Tavie, he said it would be a good song for me to do and after really listening to it, it was perfect for what I was doing and what was going on in my life at that specific time. Tavie’s brother was one of the members of Atlantic Starr so there was no problem and I got the licensing through Harry Fox.
Has your music received air play on radio stations?
Aysha - Yes, and I’m so excited about that. Shortly after I released my CD through CD Baby, I was contacted by a radio host of KUVO 89.3 in Denver Colorado, which is an award winning Jazz station. On Saturday evenings, there is a program called “A Funk Above the Rest” which is hosted by Skip the Funktologist. Skip wrote to me and said he would be interested in playing my music on his program. We corresponded back and forth and he made it happen. He later did a live radio interview over the phone with me which had a great response and from time to time I am on his play list. I’ve also been on several internet radio stations around the world. So far I know of Poland, Great Britain, Canada, Amsterdam and the US. Roc-Life Radio on Live365.com has really shown me some great support.
One of the stations deemed you their #1 Independent Artist. How did that make you feel?
Aysha - Yes, Roc-Life Radio on Live365.com made me their #1 Independent Artist for my song “Is This Just A Dream” written by Darryl Freeman and myself. I was honored and overjoyed! I couldn’t believe it when I opened up an email that was sent to the Roc-Life Radio family announcing my status. I had to reply and ask if it was true!
Tell me about the compilation disc that will include one of your songs that is planned for distribution in the US and Europe.
Aysha - Skip from “A Funk Above the Rest” on KUVO 89.3 in Denver, Colorado is putting together a compilation CD called “The Best of A Funk Above the Rest” to be released in the US and Europe and it will include my song “Honey” in the compilation. I’m so excited about it being one of the songs chosen! I believe it will be happening sometime this year.
Is it a desire of yours to grow your fan base in Europe?
Aysha - Yes, definitely. I’ve actually sold more CD’s and had more downloads from iTunes out of Europe and had a review done of my CD over there. I would love to do a European tour!
Have you been approached by any major record labels?
Aysha - Not any major labels, although I was approached by a distribution company and an independent label in London who has artists such as Oli Silk and Paul Hardcastle, who are some great artists and musicians. I’m still waiting to hear back from the label in London and the distribution company which is based in New York wants to wait for my new project since “Love Is A Rock” was released at the end of 2006.
Where can you be found performing your sultry soulful music?
Aysha - For the last 6 months or so I haven’t been performing although I perform mostly at Supper Clubs in the Los Angeles area. Los Angeles is a very hard place to get paying gigs. It’s more like you pay to play out here because of the amount of people in the industry here that are trying to get heard. I also do performances outside the Los Angeles area whenever I can.
Do you have any other projects in the works?
Aysha - I’m just now starting to write some new material and am working with a few producers so far to see what we can collaborate on. I’m always looking for new music that I can write to.
How can interested readers contact you and sample your music?
Aysha - I can be found at several locations on the internet where you can hear my music and buy it too.
Any words of wisdom you would like to leave us with?
Aysha - As a female in the business, it can be very difficult in finding people that are sincere in helping you in your career. Don’t be naïve and believe everything that you hear. Do your research on the people wanting to work with you and learn the business side of things. Don’t rely on someone else to do everything for you. Get involved enough so that you always know what’s going on. It’s YOUR career and you need to protect yourself! There, I said it! Other than that, always love what you do and put your heart into it. If you don’t love it, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. Peace and Blessings.