First Look Friday: Asiahn Bryant Will Upgrade You If You Let Her
First things, first, let's make sure you pronounce this week's First Look Friday subject's name correctly. "Ahh-zee-yahn," better known as Asiahn, this three-time Grammy nominated singer-songwriter has built a reputation for being ill with the pen. Her assistance on major hit records for Jennifer Lopez and Miley Cyrus — to name a few — have taken her to the upper-echelons of the game.
Her skill and talent caught the attention of one of the most sought after producers in the game: Dr. Dre. He brought Asiahn into the Aftermath lair to work out a few ideas. The end result was the standout cut, "Just Another Day," which featured her and Compton MC, The Game. Since then, the two have been putting in the hours to cook up something major, but we'll just have to wait and see what that final recipe becomes. As a rare jewel in an industry full of fool's gold, Asiahn utilizes all of her opportunity to the best of her ability, which our earholes thank sincerely.
With her project, Love Train out and ready for listening below, we had the distinctive pleasure of chatting it up with Asiahn about her vast array of influences, how her "dream" helps audiophiles to find peace in their lives and why Anderson .Paak should keep his head on a swivel. Be sure to keep an eye out for more from this powerful vocalist. Enjoy!
Okayplayer: To music snobs the world over, you are making an impact. What is it that those in music game are seeing and hearing that the rest of the world has yet to discover?
Asiahn: Something real, something organic, something that makes you feel. I feel like that is what's missing most times in music today.
Okayplayer: For those who have a passion for music, they honed their skills and practiced their craft. Who are your most cherished influences in music and why?
A: I have so many influences, man. Quincy Jones was a big one for me. He is a musical genius to me. Dr. Dre as well. I have had the pleasure of working with them both and they taught me to be a perfectionist and unapologetic about my craft. My other influences are Etta James, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Minnie Riperton, Whitney Houston and Prince, for the obvious reason of being 100% amazing at everything they do. Ludacris and J. Lo (Jennifer Lopez) — both whom I have worked with — have shown me that you can be huge in this industry sans ego. They taught me perseverance and humility.
OKP: Can you talk about how your life was while developing as an artist? How did you react to your first bits of press?
A: My first bit of press came when I was nine, singing at a Charlotte Hornets game. That was when I became an artist—I knew it right then and there that this was what I was born to do. I wanted to be on stage, to write things that move me so I could move others, so growing up I was focused on that. [Taking] Greyhound buses back and forth to Atlanta from Charleston, South Carolina to create music and perfect my craft. I missed out on a lot of parties and college shenanigans, but no one could say they were doing what I was. No one had a demo with Ludacris on it, so [my life] was kind of surreal.
OKP: With incidents involving people of color, police and racist occurring almost on a daily basis around the globe — how can your music (and/or others) help to relieve the trauma that is being experienced by the masses?
A: First and foremost, we can be positive and spread love through our music. We can write songs to give people hope that their will be brighter days and that things can get better if we unite as human beings. I have a song called "I Had A Dream" that does just that.
OKP: What have been the most definitive obstacles that you’ve overcome in your career thus far?
A: [One of the most definitive obstacles I've overcome] was "the too dark skin to do this type of music" belief or the "too thick to do this type of music" thought process from others. I have always known that I could do anything, I just had to show other people the same.
OKP: Can you also talk about the importance of the music industry scene as how you’ve experienced it? How do you see it evolving in the next five years?
A: The music industry "scene" can be fickle, just like feelings, as one day you're in and the next day you can be out. If you focus on making music with contents that can stand the test of time + stay true to who you are — it doesn't matter what's going on in the "scene". In the next five years, though, I see the music turning back towards real good music. As far as the industry itself, I think because of where social media is going, we will start to see more online labels who have a strong hold on streaming and licensing becoming more and more popular amongst upcoming artists.
OKP: What are some things that you’ve learned about yourself that comes out in your music?
A: I have learned that I have a huge imagination. I can make up songs about any and everything for other artists [and] I can put myself in other people's shoes, which gives me a pretty optimistic outlook on life. While making music for myself as an artist, I stick to being brutally honest about whatever it is that I am going through or have gone through.
OKP: What were some moments from your recent travels that will forever stick with you? Why?
A: I recently visited Brazil and Colombia. The sense of family and togetherness no matter what you look like or your religion was something very refreshing. Everyone helps everyone... except on soccer day [laughs]. It was a sight I haven't seen or experienced in some time. Nowadays, people seem so driven by fame and money.
OKP: What was the first song that you ever wrote entitled? Can you talk about what it has come to symbolize since you’ve entered into the professional life?
A: I have no idea what the first title of my first song was... I was eight when I wrote it. [Laughs] I can barely remember what it sounded like, but ironically it was about me having a crush on a girl. Not much has changed as a grown up, but I will say that I am still just as honest in my professional music as I was as a child.
OKP: How can your music speak truth to power in an age where people are so quickly digesting sounds and disposing of artists in a nanosecond?
A: The biggest and best compliment that I have received about my new EP, LOVE TRAIN, was that it is so relatable, it's honest and it is what women, men, boys and girls are going through around the world no matter the age. It is an ode to Love and to the many phases of it. Showcasing vulnerability, pain and the truth of it all. To me, that in itself is something people will resonate with for years and years to come. It also doesn't hurt that I can actually sing.
OKP: Collaboration is uniquely a key to the success of certain creative individuals who wish to change the game. Who would you want to work with this year going into the next and why?
A: I have done quite a few collaborations that haven't been heard. I am looking forward to collaborating with Marsha Ambrosius (we've made some pretty dope things together for the Dr. Dre project); Anderson .Paak, who is amazing; The Internet, whose vibe I love and Prince Charlez, who is amazing vocally and writing wise. Man, there are quite a few people [that] I am looking forward to collaborating with, but I have to keep some a secret.
OKP: What is the overall message that Asiahn is trying to present in her music?
A: Be real, be organically you, do everything with love and never live or make decisions because of fear.
OKP: Can you break down the inspiration behind a song that you created but never put out?
A: I have this song called "Dark Eyes" that describes two friends: one that was consumed in herself and couldn't notice her friend being depressed who was contemplating suicide. The purpose of the song was to just make people more aware of the signs of depression and for anyone contemplating suicide to let them know that they're not alone. There is always someone that they can talk to and to keep their spirits up.
OKP: How do you see yourself changing the music industry for the better versus all of the bad stuff that goes on within it?
A: I think by just being completely myself, doing good business and creating with love, I can start a chain reaction. So far, my close industry friends all believe in this philosophy and I know it will be a great year for us all.
OKP: How do you get over any anxiety before hitting the stage to perform live? What are some lessons or tips that you’ve learned from others about doing a stage show?
A: I don't know to be honest. It [anxiety] fills me up until I step on stage. The moment I open my mouth, it all just vanishes... just like that. I used to study performances as a child. No one ever taught me, I taught myself. Whoever performance moved me, I would watch over and over to figure out why, and then I tried to adapt that in my own shows.
OKP: If the reader's learned one thing from this First Look Friday chat with Asiahn — what would it be?
A: I would say that Asiahn is real in her music and will continue to make that sound that moves people.