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⚡️LIVE REVIEW⚡️ @THESTRANGERZ4 LIVE IN SALFORD – WHAT HAPPENED? SUPPORT FROM @OFFICIALFEMUR AND FRUIT https://rgm.press/the-strangerz-live-in-salford-what-happened/review/ #RGM #SALFORD

RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW ÁYAL WHAT HAPPENED?

Hiya ÁYAL thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.

What made you decide that music is a thing for you?

Music has always been an integral part of my life, a language that speaks to my soul. As a non-binary person, navigating the world can be exhausting, but music has always been my haven. It was a space to explore my emotions, find solace, and connect with something bigger where I could truly express myself.

Recently, I was forced to resign from work because I didn’t want to uproot my life and relocate to Texas, a state which is known for having the institutionalized destruction of queer rights and women’s rights. The job search that followed became a nightmarish experience. Endless applications swallowed by the digital void, and ceaseless interview processes, only to be told “We have decided to go in a different direction.” Thousands of hours poured into resumes, cover letters, and applications went down the drain. It was a turning point. Music, the one constant through the years, pulsed back to life. It wasn’t just a comfort anymore; it became a way to express and heal. This realization fueled my drive. Why devote my time and energy to the corporate world if it was no longer going to give me the stability I needed? It was time to seize the window of opportunity the universe had given me. 

Introduce us to you and your musical history. 

Growing up queer, music and performance became my escape from a world I often felt failed to understand me. A pivotal moment for me was my 9th grade audition for “Hairspray,” where as a shy teenager I timidly sang “Colors of the Wind.” That experience wasn’t just about the song; it was about finding a world where emotions through song were celebrated, a world that felt more accepting than the one I knew. 

This ignited a passion for storytelling that led me to hone my craft at NYU and in the vibrant performance scene of NYC at large. While international relations studies aren’t my current path, they have gifted me a global perspective that enriches my art. Now, I weave personal narratives through music, exploring themes of love and heartbreak with evocative melodies that incorporate political and philosophical commentary. Both on stage and in song, I find ways to delve into the complexities of the human experience, connecting with audiences through the universalities of love, loss, and the search for belonging.

What’s the live music scene like in New York right now? Anyone we should be looking out for (Bar you of course)

I have an obsession with Vardaan Arora’s music. The way he combines his queer, pop, and South Asian identities in his music is so stunning! 

I’ve seen a lot of people struggling for support recently online. What’s your view on the industry?

It’s true, I’ve seen a lot of artists online feeling frustrated by the current landscape. The industry can be tough, especially for newcomers. It’s no secret that paid promotion exists, and it can be a powerful tool. But let’s not forget the amazing things indie artists can achieve without a huge budget!

There are tons of fantastic resources out there – from online communities to DIY promo strategies. Building a strong online presence, connecting with other artists, and creating genuinely engaging content are all crucial for independent success. The key is being scrappy, creative, and consistent. It takes work, but it’s possible to make waves without breaking the bank.

Where do you feel you currently sit within the music industry?

As a newcomer to the commercial music industry with a background in musical theatre, I bring a unique blend of storytelling and performance experience. My songwriting draws on personal narratives interwoven with philosophical and artistic influences, reflecting the depth I honed in theatre. This focus on both lyric and sonic details allows me to craft impactful experiences for listeners. While I value this distinctive style, I’m actively immersing myself in contemporary music to learn from current trends and production techniques. By leveraging my theatrical background, connecting with other artists, and finding my audience online and through performances, I’m determined to carve a space for my music in the commercial industry.

Tell us Two truths and a lie about you.

Hmm…I speak four languages, I’m an avid chef, and I have a Master’s Degree in International Relations. Do you want the answers now? 😜

Do you ever worry about people taking things the wrong way or cancel culture? Discuss….

Of course, I do. But I truly believe that everyone should be entitled to learn from their mistakes. We are all human. I feel like these days we aren’t allowed to embody what it means to be human, which isn’t pretty a lot of the time. (That’s the theme of an upcoming song, stay tuned!)

Do you subscribe to any conspiracy theories? If not, why not?

I used to specialize in the prevention of the dissemination of false and misleading information on social media platforms, so I don’t believe in anything I cannot verify with a few well-known and well-trusted sources. 

What was your best experience on stage?

Before I ever was a musician, I was an actor, so I think my best experience was playing Thisby in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I got to embody my love of drag and my love of Shakespeare in one performance. It was a beautiful dream come true. 

What was your worst experience on stage?

Having my scene partner decide to push me to the ground because he thought it would make the scene on the closing night? I won’t name names. But I think that may take the cake. I survived. But I was caught off guard. Though it was really not cool. 

Tell us something about you that you think people would be surprised about. 

So now here is the answer to the two truths and a lie…I’m not an academically trained musician. Everything I’ve learned has been through private lessons. I actually have an MA in International Relations, which has made me a very research-focused artist. Every single song of mine I write like a research paper with a central question that I aim to find an answer to musically and lyrically. 

What are the next steps you plan to take as an artist to reach the next level?

For the next level, I’m focusing on building a community around my music. “Love Bomb” is just the first taste of my debut EP, “Catharsis,” which dives deep into millennial anxieties, the pressures we face, but also the incredible power of music to lift you up. It’s not just about the songs, it’s about creating a space where we can all be vulnerable, support each other, and find connection – because let’s be honest, we all need that a little more these days.

I hear you have new music, what can you tell us about it.

“Love Bomb” isn’t your typical cry-in-your-pillow heartbreak song. It’s an anthem! Think 80s heartbreak rock vibes with lyrics that get straight to the point. I wrote it after a real-life encounter that left me livid. Like Joan Jett, Pat Benatar, and Bon Jovi livid. You know the saying, ‘All is fair in love and war’? Well, this rendezvous got me thinking, “Well if all is fair in love and war, then who is the one keeping score?” I penned that lyric in my notebook, tears blurring the ink. And then I began to think about how love and war can be so alike, and how oftentimes love and affection can be used as a form of emotional warfare. Like in this instance, someone showered me with attention, and then…poof! Gone. Using this metaphor, the lyrics seemed to write themselves. Everything I felt:  The anger, the hurt, poured onto the page.

On the plane ride home, with nothing but time to sit and stew, those raw emotions transformed into more poetic lyrics. “Love Bomb” became a way to say, “Love Bomb” became a battle cry, a way to say, ‘Hey, you’re not alone! This happens, but you can rise above it.’ More importantly, the song shines a light on love bombing – it’s not okay! It’s emotional manipulation, masquerading as affection. Honesty and transparency are the way to go, in love and life. Wouldn’t you agree?

What was the recording process like?

This is the first song I ever recorded so it was all a learning experience for me. I come from the musical theatre world where everything has to be perfect live and there are no retakes or do-overs. Spending months rehearsing to get something perfect is a process I’m quite used to.

It served me well with this song because I didn’t realize it when I was writing it initially but this song is quite rhythmically and melodically challenging. I worked with my vocal coach Sue Cohen, as well as the producer of the track, Marvin Fockens, out of Amsterdam, to nail it. I initially recorded it in September of 2023 but wasn’t happy with how it came out.

So I then worked on making the song perfect over the next couple of months and went back into a different studio in my hometown of Albany in February of 2024. I laid down the vocals and I was much happier with the results this time. But I then began working with a professional management team who advised me to create this new version of the track with backing vocals and enhanced sonics with the incredible talents of Jamie Sellers from the UK, which is the version being released now. 

What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tunes?

Ummm…everything! “Love Bomb” was my first time writing a song in its entirety. So this process was very much like drinking from a firehose. Lyrics come easily to me. But getting the melody and instrumentals to fit was much harder. But I think having a producer who understands you and your vision is the key to having your music come to life. 

Would you change anything now that it’s finished?

Every time I listen to the song I notice some minor tweaks or some things I would like to change. #PerfectionistProbs But at some point, you have to let sleeping dogs lie. Otherwise, the art would never be available for public consumption. 

Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?

Thanks for having me! This has been a blast, sharing my story and music with you all. “Love Bomb” is just the first taste of what’s to come with “Catharsis.” I look forward to delving into the power of music to heal. To soothe anxieties, push away societal pressures, and most importantly, impress upon people how important it is to live unabashedly as your authentic self. 

My music isn’t just about me. It’s about creating a space for connection, vulnerability, and empowerment. I’m hoping my music empowers folks to become their truest, best selves.

In the meantime, let’s connect on socials! I’d love to hear your stories and experiences too. Together, we can rise above the trials tribulations, and trauma. Thanks again for having me. 

Yours in glitter, ✨

Áyal.

🇺🇸  RGM USA 🇺🇸

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