Introducing: Liya

In the heart of the pulsating global music scene, where rhythm and melody collide emerges a radiant star who embodies the very essence of Afrobeats – Liya. The young female Nigerian artist entered the scene with a voice that dances between the beats and packs charisma to set the world stage ablaze.

Hailing from a country dominating the airwaves, Liya joins the league of extraordinary Nigerian female artists. Her Journey began with a signing with DMW (Davido Music Worldwide) record label, owned by Afrobeat star Davido.

A graduate of Linguistics from the University of Ilorin, Liya claims she encompasses her knowledge of Arabic school, the traditional melodies of her home state, Osun, and a wide taste for music of all sorts to bring out the best in her unique way.

“Music has always been a central part of my life due to my Yoruba and Muslim background, which is rich in musical traditions. Arabic, with its rhythmic qualities, and reciting the Holy Quran have influenced my musical style.”

In an exclusive interview with EUPHORIA., Liya walks us through her prolific journey, discusses her new songs, and gives opinions on the music industry as a young female Nigerian artiste.

Recently, you released your dual singles, “I Am Done” and “Powerful.” Can you share how you feel now that they are in the world?

The reception to my new singles has been fantastic, even though I was initially nervous because of the long gap between my previous release and these two. The singles have a different vibe compared to my earlier EP, Alari. “Powerful” has a deliberate chant-like chorus that adds to its distinct character.

Both songs emphasize a lot on empowerment and inner strength, right? How important is it for you to convey these messages through your music? Are we to expect more of this theme in your subsequent music releases?

I aim to inspire and motivate people. The current state of the world and society is quite overwhelming. I want individuals to embrace gratitude for even the smallest things and find joy in unexpected places. You don’t need to have everything figured out to be content with yourself. Inner peace is crucial, and it’s alright to have off days. It’s empowering to showcase your true self, whether that’s being expressive, bold, or vulnerable. The song “Powerful” reflects my desire to experiment with new sounds and feelings. I wanted to convey fierceness, confidence, and boldness. The energy in the song’s intro is invigorating, and I hope listeners can share that experience with me.

What you said about empowerment and inner strength through your two songs, do you have a specific gender, or should I say the gender audience you were talking to generally?

I was addressing both genders, but particularly focusing on girls. Our society often restricts women from being openly expressive. Any attempt at self-expression is labeled as anger or moodiness. This is unfair. Men and women naturally express themselves differently, and that’s okay. As women, our emotions are a crucial part of who we are. We shouldn’t be judged for expressing ourselves or showcasing our abilities. This message applies to both genders, with a particular emphasis on encouraging women to stand up and believe in themselves.

No doubt you have a solid presence as an influential artist already, I would like to know how you envision or perceive your role within the music industry. Now, this would go both ways, both at home in Nigeria and outside the shores of Nigeria.

I’m still figuring out my exact role, but I believe I’m making a positive impact. The feedback has been amazing, with heartfelt messages and reviews about how my music resonates with people. My goal is for people to see themselves in me and feel proud of their journey. I want them to be grateful for their existence and recognize their importance in shaping the world. Despite the current challenges, I want to inspire confidence and assurance that everything will be okay. When people hear my music, I aim for it to deeply connect with them, evoking a sense of uniqueness and inner peace. Ultimately, I’m using my music to spread a message of positivity and hope.

Your musical style seems to encompass a whole lot of elements. Significantly, that’s pop and R&B. So how do you approach blending those genres to create your unique sound?

The people I collaborate with play a huge role in shaping my music. My life experiences and the music I listen to also influence me – I draw inspiration from artists of different eras, including the 80s and 70s. Growing up in Nigeria, Afro is a fundamental part of who I am. When I hear other artists and their work, I merge ideas to create a vision for my music. I then share these concepts with my team and incorporate certain elements from them.

Are you saying that apart from, you know, very audible genres of pop and R&B, you explore other genres?

Of course, I do. That’s how I have fun making music.

How long have you been in the music game? and I’m not talking just professionally. When did you start making music?

I began my music journey at the University of Ilorin in 2014. Even before that, I had a strong interest in music and lyrics, often writing down song lyrics from the radio and TV. This passion grew during my time at the University of Ilorin, where I was introduced to studio environments and met fellow enthusiasts. Witnessing performances and the dedication of others inspired me to believe in my musical potential. So, I dived into music in 2014, although my love for singing and lyrics had been present long before then.

You mentioned that you draw inspiration from a lot of sources as far back as even the 70s and 80s, right? I would like to know who and what in more detail has inspired your sound over the years.

Diverse artists like Dolly Parton, Busola Oke, Shola Allyson, Elvis Presley, The Backstreet Boys, West Live, and Black Badger. Also, prominent figures like Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Salewa Abeni, Nina Simone, and Aretha Franklin played a role in shaping my musical style. For me, the essence of a song lies in how it makes me feel rather than its genre. Whenever I’m engrossed in a song, I immerse myself in its vibe and emotions. That’s when I feel the urge to create something similar. Sometimes, even unexpected moments outside, where I encounter various melodies, trigger ideas that I mold into new compositions. It’s all about my passion for quality music.

Who would be the first person on your list of inspirations?

The first person that comes to my head as an inspiration will be Nina Simone. She’s deep. I like her, and her energy is top-notch.

Since the unveiling of Alari in 2021, till this moment, can you walk us through your significant growth journey in the music industry?

I’ve experienced remarkable personal growth throughout this journey. Over the past few years, and even just the last few months, I’ve evolved significantly as a person. This transformation isn’t limited to my role as a singer, artist, entrepreneur, student, or creative individual. It’s a universal human experience to continuously evolve and progress. So far, the journey has been incredibly positive and fulfilling.

Each phase has its highs and lows, which bring about fresh inspiration. This growth has made me more self-assured and expressive. I’ve realized that in the realm of music, there are no strict guidelines – it’s all about enjoying the process and embracing what I love. This journey has also boosted my psychological and mental confidence, taking me from a level of 10 to nearly a hundred. I’ve come to understand myself better, and this has added a fascinating and direct dimension to my life.

You were nominated last year for best vocal performance at the Headies Award. How did such recognition influence your artistic drive?

I was taken by surprise with the nomination since I was new to the industry and had just released my first EP. It brought me immense happiness and inspiration. Realizing people were actually listening to my music motivated me to do more for myself and for my listeners. The nomination made me feel honored, grateful, and ecstatic. It was a pivotal moment of realization that my songs were reaching people. Sharing the news with my friends amplified the joy. Overall, it was a transformative experience that fueled my determination. This year, I’ve even received another nomination, which boosts my confidence in winning and making my mark.

What do you find most rewarding about pursuing a music career?

For me, it’s the listeners – like a trophy. Recently, my Spotify monthly listeners soared from 4,000 to over 60,000. I’m immensely thankful for this unexpected surge, and it’s more than enough reward. Bringing positivity and joy to people’s lives through my music is what truly matters to me.

As a female artist who consistently shatters glass ceilings within the Nigerian music scene, what key knowledge have you gained from the workings of the music industry?

I’ve learned that staying true to yourself is vital. Amid the industry’s pressures, it’s easy to lose your identity and become unrecognizable. So, safeguard your authenticity, prioritize personal desires, and have a strong voice in your art. Remaining genuine is crucial; losing oneself makes recovery difficult. Many fall into this trap. Stay anchored in who you are. Cultivate happiness on different levels—genuine self-approval and pride in your progress. Occasionally, artists should pause, acknowledge their achievements, and encourage themselves. Uncertainty is acceptable; progression takes time. I’ll continue moving forward despite not having everything sorted immediately. Also, consistency is key. Amid highs and lows, persist. Moments of promise might turn sour, leading to sadness or even depression. Accept these feelings, but continue pushing ahead, even if progress is slow or challenging.

If there is anything you would like to change about the music industry today, what would it be?

I’d focus on improving its structure. While progress has been made, there’s still room for growth and expansion. The industry holds potential as a movement, particularly in terms of structure. This applies not only to Nigeria but also to other African nations.

In July, news of your departure from Davido was trending, what led to your decision?

There was no issue, just a mutual desire for personal and brand growth. We both wanted to evolve and achieve more. It was an amicable decision, with no hard feelings, just pursuing individual ambitions.

What are we expecting from you soon?

I have some ideas, but I can’t predict exactly. I’ll always give my best for the brand and my supporters. Alongside music, I’m exploring sports and other interests like fashion. I plan to pursue bigger opportunities, potentially even starting a family in the next decade. Expect more collaborations, projects, and expansions in fashion, sports, and even acting. I aim to broaden my reach through partnerships and deals to achieve more.

Can you give us an insight into who you’d love to collaborate with in the future?

I’d love to work with Shawn Mendes. I think he’s fire. I’d also love to work with Billie Eilish. She’s dope too. Here in Nigeria, I’m looking forward to working with Tiwa and Asa. I also would love to work with Jorja Smith, I think she’s fire too. I would also love to work with Adele and Burna Boy.