Atlanta hasn’t seen an R&B singer rise from its city since Ciara danced onto the scene in 2003, but twenty-one-year-old ATL songbird Alexis Ayaana is looking to break the silence.
Ayanna released her debut EP Twenty One earlier this month following her buzz-building trap tune “Balenciaga” (which was featured on multiple mixtapes), and follow-up singles “All My Love” and “Get It Right.”
The project features Migos member Quavo, and was executive-produced by multi-platinum producer/songwriter Drumma Boy, who has also worked with the likes of Yo Gotti, Chris Brown, T.I., Future and Gucci Mane to name a few.
We got to know Alexis Ayanna a bit better in a recent Q&A where we earn more about the R&B beauty, how she plans to make the genre synonymous with the ATL again, her hobbies, and much more.
Check it below!
Were you raised in ATL or the Caribbean?
I was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. My mother is from Barbados, and my father is from Panama. I am very proud and tied into my culture.
Which location influenced your music the most and why?
I have an urban feel to my music, and my beats have a lot of hard bass to it. I feel overall, Atlanta influences my music the most, but I do want to bring more Caribbean and Latin influences in my music over time as well
You’re single “Balenciaga” was featured on various compilation mixtapes. How did it feel to garner that type of buzz out the gate?
The opportunities and growth I have experienced in the last two years is something that takes artists many years to get to, so for that, I feel very lucky and grateful that I’ve been placed and given these opportunities in a short space of time. My first single “Balenciaga” was featured on mixtapes, played in major clubs in Atlanta, and was on radio throughout the southeast. I worked hard performing at showcases, guest appearances, doing interviews, etc. and within a year all those things accumulated to me being able to be in the position I am now. It makes me feel like I am progressing and that people are actually gravitating to my sound and are rocking with it. Support like that is something that keeps me going, especially in the early stages where anything could make you feel discouraged.
Atlanta used to have a steady stream of both hip-hop and R&B talent coming from the city. With R&B taking a mainstream “dive,” what would you say you bring to the table to represent ATL R&B?
I bring a young, fresh vibe to R&B. There haven’t been any R&B singers coming out of Atlanta since Ciara, and I’m ready to take my place in this genre adding my own flavor to it. Adding all the elements of me into it; whether that be a song with the Caribbean feel to it, or a Latin feel or an Atlanta feel. All of those things make up “me” and my music will authentically reflect that because that is who I am and what I grew up around. I don’t recall any Atlanta R&B singers that were able to incorporate all those elements and tell their story that way so it’s something new and it puts me in a lane of my own. Yes, I am from Atlanta but Atlanta is not all of who I am, and I want to show that.
Tell us about your EP Twenty One.
My EP is called Twenty One. I released it officially February 10th under my label Grown Money Entertainment and distributed through EMPIRE. So far I feel it is doing really well. It has seven songs total including six brand new songs as well as my first single “Balenciaga” ft. Kwony Cash. Quavo from the Migos is featured on the song “Bad Enough.” The EP is available digitally everywhere (iTunes, GooglePlay, Tidal, Spotify, Amazon, etc.) and a few of the songs already have videos up on my Youtube page.
What does the title mean for you?
I chose the name “Twenty One” because it reflects my age since I am 21, as well as me coming into an age of maturity, gaining life experience, my sexuality, finding who I am, what I like, etc. All the things that you learn about yourself and the growth in your life really start at this age, so I felt it was perfect to call it Twenty-One.
How was it working with Drumma Boy?
The EP is executive produced by Drumma Boy Fresh. I love working with him, and he has become like family. He really has my best interest at heart and is taking a chance on me because he sees something great and big. We work really well together, and I feel like the sound that I’m looking for he has that or will step out of his comfort zone to create that so we can make something fantastic.
What’s your creative process like?
During my time working with Drumma, he has opened me to a new way of creating music. I worked on this EP with him starting back in May and didn’t finish it until September. We would go to the studio a couple of days out the week and have 12-hour recording sessions. We would come in, and he would play some beats for me, or he would just create something new all together based on what I was feeling. He’s well connected, so he was always bringing in people to help me bring my ideas of what I wanted to express to life on a track. It was always a chill vibe; laughing, talking, creating, recording so time would go by pretty fast because it wouldn’t seem like work. Just us hanging and making music. My family and friends were always around along with his people coming in and out, so it was always a cool vibe going on.
What do you like to do in your free time?
In my free time I like to relax mostly. I like watching movies, so I’ll go to the movies or chill at home and watch movies. I like going out to eat, shopping, reading. On some weekends I will go out to a bar or club. I love traveling as well. I’m actually planning a trip the beginning of April with some family and friends to go back to Barbados for my birthday and then also going to Trinidad at the end of April.
What artists are mainstays on your playlist?
I don’t really have artists where I download everything of theirs. I’m more of a song downloader. I listen to any and everything. I just love music. There isn’t a type of music that I say I just won’t listen to. If a song is good, a song is good. Right now mostly on my playlist other than R&B, Rap or Pop is a lot of Latin Music and West Indian music. I listen to a lot of Reggaeton, my favorite artist right now being Ozuna. I listen to Bachata, Salsa and for West Indian music, I listen to a lot of Dancehall, Reggae, and Soca.
Where do you see yourself in the next three years?
In the next three years, I see myself having really taken off. I see myself being a major artist, touring, and having plenty supporters that I can’t even handle my own self. I see myself traveling way more, living in LA, putting out more music, collaborating more and meeting the people that I look up to in this industry.
What’s next for Alexis Ayaana (tour, appearances, other ventures, etc)?
What’s next for me is really just working to promote this EP, traveling and performing more to get my name out there. I will be going to SXSW as well as Coachella. Hopefully, I’ll be back at the BET Awards again this year. As of right now, I’m just working on getting my face out there outside of Atlanta and just expanding my awareness. I don’t know what this year has to offer me considering this EP has just released and anything can come from it, but I will be so satisfied and consider this an exceptional and successful year if I could start touring.