If you listen to any of Spotify’s summer playlists, then you’ve heard the guy we just interviewed. ayokay is popping off, and his songs are infectious! See what he had to say below
For someone who has never heard of your music, how would you describe it?
I describe it as melodic layers over harder hitting bass and drums. I always like to find two things to create a dichotomy between one another, so most of my music has very lighthearted instrumentation, and I try to put bigger drum sounds so that you can bump in your car. I change up my instrumentation up a lot while still keeping the ayokay sound, which is the summer, young & free vibe.
How did you come up with the name ayokay?
My initials are A.O (Alex O’Neill), and everyone in high school called me Ayo. I threw a kay at the end of it, to basically sum up that everything is actually ayokay.
Talk to me about your relationship with Quinn XCII!
We grew up together in Gross Pointe Michigan, and we knew each other starting in middle school. We knew that we both did music, I started engineering and he was rapping, and as we both continued to do our thing, he would bring me crazy beats to rap on. Him finding that sound, influenced me to find the ayokay sound. I produced his first EP Change of Scenery, then I produced his next EP Bloom, and after that we did Kings of the Summer to be the first song in the ayokay name.
Of all the original songs, which song is your favorite?
Kings of Summer holds a very dear place in my heart, but honestly the most fun song that we’ve been a part of is Full Circle. It plays so well live, and it is very free-form, so it doesn’t have a chorus, just a free flowing song. We recently moved to LA, and things changed when we did that, he focused with his project, I focused on mine, but when we were home we were addicts recording music in a closet.
Can you talk to me about your most recent hit The Shine?
Chelsea Cutler has been my dream collaboration for about a year now. She did covers on Soundcloud of very unique electronic songs, and I’ve been following her for a while. It took a year until we actually recorded the song in New York. I actually made the beat on a plane, when it was really bad turbulence trying to distract myself. I had been sitting on the instrumental for six months, and I wanted to save that instrumental for Chelsea. We got into New York, we teamed up with a talented writer Scott Harris, and we crushed it. She’s now signed to my manager and part of the team!
Besides Chelsea, who would be your dream collab?
I think in the pop sphere, Mø is one of my favorite singers. I think it’s amazing when you make something indie and it fits in the mainstream world, while not being overly pop. She fits right on that line between the two genres. I really like Elohim as an indie singer. But my ultimate focus is to collaborate with bands. I think a lot of people in the electronic space just finds singers, but I really want to work closely with an artist, and get a cool collaboration between electronic and acoustic. A band I’d love to collaborate with is Oh Wonder.
What has been your highlight this year?
A baseball player for the Texas Rangers Ian Desmond made Kings of Summer his walk-up song, and we actually went down to Texas and he showed us around the stadium, had us for batting practice, and performed the song after the ninth inning after the game. So much has happened this year, we signed with Columbia records and it’s just been milestone after milestone!
What’s your plan for the rest of your year?
I’m going on my first ayokay tour with Gryffin and Autograf during October and November, and my next couple singles I’m really excited for. My next song that I’m coming out is one of my favorites that I’ve done. I’m hoping that comes out sometime during September, but eventually my goal is to work on an album. Once you can actually take more creative risks will be awesome, but I’m excited to work on an upcoming EP. I’m going to start singing on my songs, so it’s going to be super cool to see how that turns out.
Would you rather have hands for feet, or feet for hands?
Hold on you’ve got to give me a second… Hands for feet for sure, I’m totally uncoordinated with my feet. I could probably climb and shit with hands on my feet so it could turn out pretty cool