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Thursday, December 3, 2020

Ayriss, Musician

Bournemouth-based musician Ayriss opens up about his latest album, the personal inspiration behind his evocative lyrics, and how lockdown has been a “blessing in disguise” for his career…

Combine the raw vocals of Gerard Way, the gritty lyricism of Tyler Joseph, and the blazing charisma of Brendon Urie and you get Jordan Ayriss – better known mononymously as Ayriss.

The music producer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist from Poole says he has “lived and breathed music” since he was a child. At the age of 10, Ayriss began writing his own songs before discovering recording and production at 12. Now aged 26, the former frontman of local bands Ironic Encounter and Sepia Daze is still besotted with music and fully committed to his self-titled solo project.

His solo career, humble and homegrown, has seen him headline several popular local venues, namely Chaplin’s and Alt.

Despite lockdown rendering him unable to perform due to the live music scene being temporarily grounded, 2020 has proven to be a fruitful year for Ayriss. Late June saw the release of his second full length album Adrift, the much-anticipated sequel to his explosive 2018 debut Amiss.

Aside from his solo endeavours, Ayriss has also been tuning his talents by working as a record engineer at Bournemouth’s Knighton Heath Studios at Absolute Music. He can be found there mixing and mastering for other local artists.

Now, almost five months after his second LP dropped, Ayriss discusses his plans for the next album, reasons for going solo, and the process behind all his current projects.

YOU USED TO BE A FRONTMAN FOR A FEW BANDS – WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO GO SOLO?

Honestly, it was the difficulties that come with being in bands that made me decide to go solo. Don’t get me wrong – I have no bitter feelings towards my past bands and the people in them. But you often find you have musical differences, and it becomes increasingly hard to keep writing together when you’re all wanting totally different things.

You also sometimes get one or two members of the band that just aren’t as committed as the rest, and don’t really put in the effort developing the project.

Lastly it’s the limitations to your sound. I’ve always been a big fan of big, anthemic, dramatic sounds. And when you’re in a four- or five-piece band, it’s not so easy to execute what you’re hearing in your mind. Being able to write and record whatever comes out of your head, no matter how many instruments and sounds are involved, is a great feeling!

WHAT ARE THE MAIN DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PERFORMING IN A BAND AND WORKING SOLO?

All that being said though, I really do miss bands. The family aspect of them and the bonds you develop. The collective mind working together to create something that none of you would have come up with as individuals. And mostly performing together. There’s so much energy to feed off of when you’re performing with a band.

The same can’t be said for performing solo. At this moment in time though, I feel that this musical venture is the one I want to stick with.

FOR YOUR SOLO MUSIC, WHAT GENRES DO YOU TYPICALLY WORK WITH?

I’ve always struggled with this when people ask… Electronic, Rock, Indie, Pop, hints of EDM, Hip-Hop… all sorts really! Take your pick.

WHO ARE YOUR MUSICAL INFLUENCES?

My solo music is very inspired by Twenty Øne Pilots and Panic! At The Disco. I love how both of them are doing a similar thing to me in terms of producing and recording their music as a sort of one man show.

Twenty Øne Pilots have particularly inspired me with their lyrical content being similar to mine and their really tasteful blend of mainstream pop with dark, more meaningful undertones. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard an artist in the current trending charts that I connect with like I have Twenty Øne Pilots.

WHAT TOPICS MAINLY INSPIRE YOUR MUSIC?

Honestly, I write music as a form of release. Mental health is by far the biggest inspiration for my music, as it’s something I have to deal with every day. I’ve tried writing more positive songs and love songs. None of it feels right though.

YOUR NEW ALBUM, ADRIFT, CAME OUT THIS SUMMER. WHAT WAS THE PROCESS?

So Adrift came out on 20th June. It’s my second full-length album and it took a good 18 months to finish.

Back in 2018 I released my first album Amiss, and I already had a good chunk of music written that was more “chilled” than what I had for the rest of the album. However, the creative juices completely stopped flowing and I had huge writer’s block. Before I’d even released the first album, my good friend, Chewie, suggested the name Adrift to me. It felt like a great name to follow the previous. Tied in with that chilled sound I had and it gave me the inspiration to try and write a concept album.

Jumping a few months forward, I had the title, story idea and multiple pieces of music. But I’ve always found writing lyrics difficult. They only come at certain times. I can’t just sit down and think, “I’m going to write some lyrics.” Something has to happen in my life to start them off. My fiancée Saffron actually wrote all of the lyrics to the song Control your Breathing.

Throughout 2019, I wrote a few lyrics and had worked on some instrumentals. But the story idea I had just wasn’t coming naturally. I wanted the album to focus on a particular character. It could be you, it could be someone you know. I wanted to use the term “Adrift” and the idea of being stranded at sea as a metaphor for something more mental. Tying in with my usual lyrical subject – something I’m all too familiar with – mental health.

Then came 2020 and the national lockdown. Not only did this give me so much time to put towards the album; it also inspired me to write about being stranded and alone. It was almost a blessing in disguise!

By May, I finished writing and recording the album and used my time over the next month to mix and master the whole thing, ready for release in June. I’ve now decided I don’t want to write another concept album as it was way too much hassle!

ARE YOU PROUD OF HOW THE ALBUM TURNED OUT? HOW WAS THE RECEPTION?

I’m definitely proud of it! It may have been a long and difficult process, but it was 100% worth it.

Unfortunately, it didn’t spread very far. Marketing and promotion isn’t my strong point and the likes of Facebook have gotten pretty bad for artists. I’d say 90% of fans on my page that I know personally hadn’t seen all of the ads and promotion I’d been putting out. It’s a tough market to crack.

HOW HAS LOCKDOWN AFFECTED YOUR CAREER?

“The L word” was actually a godsend to my career! For the last few years, I’ve been using my home studio where I record my own music to put my skills to work. Recording and producing for other local artists in the area. I absolutely love doing it, and when I’m struggling to write for myself, working for or with other artists keeps me close to what I love.

Post-lockdown, my day job was in a café at Absolute Music in Bournemouth. But when the first lockdown ended, the café wasn’t going to re-open. But then the company offered me a job as a second studio engineer!

So, thanks to this pandemic, I now have a job doing what I love in a professional recording studio. Of course, it’s put a strain on my own music, as there are no live shows. But I’ve been working on something special to hopefully make up for it, as well as writing the third album.

WHICH LOCAL ARTISTS HAVE YOU WORKED WITH?

I’ve built a great relationship with a band called The Strangers Club, and also a solo artist called Gee, a.k.a. JamieG. I hope to work with both of them more in the future. But there have been so many great artists. Taya Minchington, James Hook, Christo Loukopolous, Saints of Serenity, and The James Haynes Project, to name a few.

WHERE DO YOU USUALLY PERFORM? HAVE YOU EVER CONSIDERED TOURING?

Anywhere local really. Chaplin’s and Cellar Bar is a beautiful little venue. I played a lot of shows at Sound Circus before it became Alt, and at Riviera, just up the road from Cellar Bar.

I would love to tour, even just a small one across Dorset. But I don’t drive yet, so that’s a big obstacle. One day though.

YOU MENTIONED WORKING ON YOUR THIRD ALBUM – WHAT ELSE ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING ON?

Album Number Three is coming along nicely, though writing lyrics is holding me back as per usual. Expect a “heavier” album this time. More guitars and energy.

I’m working with several artists on their albums, which should be coming soon. The Strangers Club, who I mentioned before, are still in the process of releasing some tracks that we recorded a few months ago.

WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THE FUTURE?

I’ve never really wanted to be crazy famous. I just want people to hear my music in the hope that it’ll speak to them and help them in one way or another. I’m pretty happy with how things are going right now with the studio and everything.

I just want to keep meeting artistic people, making music and hopefully make a comfortable living from the work I do and live a happy life.

Stream Ayriss’ newest LP Adrift on Apple Music and Spotify, or buy the album from Bandcamp now. To keep up with Ayriss, follow his page on Facebook. For more local music stories, click here. And don’t forget to follow us on our social channels – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube!

Tia Wells
Tia Wells
One of the first graduates of the new Creative Writing course at AUB, Tia's mantra has always been 'just write.' As such, she finds inspiration from people, palettes, and places around her. This includes Bournemouth, the town in which she was born. Though she has called Bournemouth home for over 20 years, Tia still treats it as unexplored territory filled with stories begging to be discovered. Her interests range from music to food - both of which she enjoys consuming without having any idea how to make.

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