Ayce: Currently, I’m on school ‘holidays’. It doesn’t really feel like that being I’m in year 12 and have my HSC trials in a few weeks. The last three days I have been in my hometown of Canberra shooting a new video for an upcoming song, so a lot of early mornings and late nights.
We are here for the week, so keep an eye out for the video, can’t say too much. Other than that I’ve been locked in to listen to new music, some of my guys have dropped recently, Kevo Superfly and XI have really been working hard on their new projects so that’s been driving me recently.
Happy: Tell us about where you are from? What’s the music scene like in your neck of the woods?
Ayce: I was born in Sydney and have spent time across a lot of different areas across the city side and inner inner-west. That being said I was really raised from like 3rd grade up until around the start of the 9th grade down in Canberra.
I think Sydney City especially has seen its hip-hop scene carve itself out over the last few years and really distinguish itself from those out west. It’s always love to those out there doing their thing but it’s really cool to see young prodigies from this side telling their own stories with their own voice over living them through the voices of others. Sydney City’s had indie acts coming for time though.
Canberra’s a whole other story. You’ve got people like Genisis Owuso and Turquoise Prince who’ve really carved a name for themselves in their respective lanes, but that aside, Canberra really doesn’t have a scene like that comparable to the other big cities.
Artists don’t even want to go there. I think it really comes down to a lack of infrastructure around contemporary music. Not enough events to spark embers for a scene to burn, let alone artists to hold it down.
I don’t want to put that on the people though, the city is old and only recently has seen a lot of growth both literally and with its values and ideas. I know for a fact there’s plenty out there who’d want to step to a mic, but I feel like social pressures and other stuff get in the way.
Even for those who do take that leap, they could only get so far without feeling the need to head out to these bigger cities to find studios and network. I hate that it be that way but I’m optimistic with more people and eyes coming that way that these barriers will be broken down, and I know they love to consume hip-hop so it’s not as far gone as people might think.
My bro Aurpan Kar the only youngin I know out there who’s been putting in the work for years. I used to see him out and fan out in a time before I ever started recording myself. Got the utmost respect for that guy.
Happy: Describe your average day?
Ayce: Get up, take my dog for a spin around the block and then back in for some breakfast and coffee with my mum if I’m not rushing to get to school by that time.
When I clock out of there I’m at the gym, and then it’s back home to get plotting for Music stuff or hitting the books so I can somehow pass these HSCs.
Sometimes I’ll be at the studio after, other times it’ll be meetings. I try to leave myself with a lot of spare time so that I can be anywhere on short notice. Usually works well for me.
Happy: What about your ultimate day?
Ayce: It’d be waking up somewhere with a view and some good coffee and performing at a Local festival like Listen Out , or an international festival like Rolling Loud. Performing is one of my favourite things to do in the world and doing a big stage like that is a dream. I’d finish it off with some pizza and being around some good people. They know who they are, I’ll try not to keep them waiting.
Happy: Who are some of your biggest musical influences, both within the hip-hop genre and beyond? And how have they influenced your music?
Ayce: People like Michael Jackson really amaze me by showing how far music can take you both as an artist and a listener. The effect he had on people is unparalleled to anything I think we’ve seen in this era. In the same breath, The Kid Laroi has been a massive inspiration to me as a young artist from this part of the world in showing me what’s possible if you just keep at it, and showing that it even is possible in the first place.
Speaking more to music though I definitely have been influenced by those who came from that soundcloud generation. People like Lil Skies and Juice WRLD. Juice especially with how expressive you can be on a track and the capability to bend genres, particularly with alternative and rock music.
Eminem and Tyler, The Creator showed me how provocative you can be, Kanye & The Alchemist showed me the importance of production to building a record, and Nas taught me the beauty of telling stories through Hip-Hop. A recent one I can cite is Kendrick when I saw him on the MM&TBS tour recently, which showed me how a well-orchestrated live performance can elevate the effect of your music that much more, and also the importance of well-thought-out comprehensive albums.
I listen to too much music from different genres to cite them all but people like Norah Jones, Erika Badu, Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl have all played a part in who I am today as an artist, and the elements of music that I gravitate towards.
Happy: Your upcoming EP features one song released each month. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind this unique release strategy and what you hope to achieve with it?
Ayce: I’m definitely a small artist and while I’ve got to do a lot of cool stuff already, my team and I figured this strategy would best allow people to digest the project better and over a longer period of time. It also allows us to be consistent, and have something new each month versus putting it all out at the same time and leaving listeners waiting a whole lot longer to hear new stuff.
It’s always drilled into you as a small artist to stay consistent, and in consideration of how short attention spans be these days, we can’t afford to keep listeners hungry for too long if we want to grow and build familiarity with listeners so we may be remembered once the song is over.
Happy: Your first two tracks from the EP are titled “Home” and “Promise.” Could you delve into the themes and emotions explored in these songs?
Ayce: Home is next to come out but it’s actually the final song of our prologue of sorts. I was going to release it in a mini project with my other single ‘Based God’ before we came to idea of the monthly releases, but I think we’ve done enough between the cover arts and the music videos so viewers will understand that they’re connected.
Home is really a track about trying to find yourself. For me, it was an acknowledgment of unsuccessful relationships where I’d wrongly thought I’d found it, and where my sights are next in regards to focusing on myself and building something substantial through music and my journey as an artist.
I think people can find their own resonances to that even if it’s got nothing to do with the places I mention. That idea of finding what’s right for you, and the frustration of getting it wrong a few times.
Promise is written and performed from that same pocket of frustration, and stands as my promise to carve something out for myself and my family. It started originally as a song named ‘Smoke and Mirrors’, and was a message to certain people in the industry who’d gassed me up only to slow me down behind false promises as happens all too frequently in this business.
I was about 2 years younger when I recorded that demo, and I like to think that I’ve grown so much more since that original experience behind the song, and going through all that early has only sharpened my wits & taught me how to move better in the ways I conduct business now.
It’s still not even out but it’s circulated behind the scenes a bit, and it was a full-circle moment for the person the song was about to actually reach out in admiration of the record all these years later. It really put the situation to bed and gave me closure over it all, and we’re on better terms now after it all.
Who would’ve thought huh. Nowadays I like to think of the song more through the light of a statement of my determination to always keep it pushing, not matter what trials or tribulations get in the way.
Happy: Can you share any insights into the creative/ recording process?
Ayce: It’s always changing and evolving as I grow as a person and as an artist. I’m blessed to be building a sound with some of the best producers this city has to offer, such as PAXONTHEBEAT and WayvBeats who worked on both the aforementioned records.
I can freestyle when I’ve got something to say, but otherwise I like to take my time to be cohesive by writing a lot of my work. It’s always fun to freestyle to build melodies though, I know plenty of artists who start like that just spitting the most incomprehensible garbage onto a mic to figure out a pocket, and then get to writing from there.
I like the studio to be a calm soothing place, lights nice and low the A/C on perfect temp, my manger likes to bring the snacks, I’m not a big sugar guy so I dabble from time to time but stay away from them on the most part. Got to have my Tea to help warm up my vocal cords, and of course always gotta have the sparkling water around.
When it comes down to it though I have a thing about always trying to draw from real-life situations or emotions in writing my songs. Whether something that happened years ago or something I’m feeling right there as Pax is cooking up a beat in the studio. That standard has never let me down, and I think it leads to me creating my best work. Be urself, speak ur truth. No one can do it better than you.
Happy: Growing up with a collided identity between Sydney and Canberra, how has your dualistic background influenced your music and the way you express yourself artistically?
Ayce: It’s just given me so many stories really, and a whole lot of perspective. I feel like I’ve lived so many lives in only 17 years. From a small town to a big city, there’s a lot that’s come with that to unpack and a whole lot of other behind-the-scenes stuff that’s happened between all that. I’d say I’m rarely at a loss for words.
Happy: As the son of immigrants, particularly with your mother hailing from New York City, how do you incorporate the influence of hip-hop from the mecca into your sound while still maintaining your Australian roots?
That’s really where the whole collided intently thing comes into play. I’ve had the blessing to spend a lot of time on that side of the world, and as I said previously, it’s only given more stories and more perspective to build from.
There’s obviously the accent thing, which is a mix of both really. The influence would probably come down to the words I use, the energy I portray, and the types of sounds that I’m drawn to. I think there’s such a rawness yet elegance to a lot of music particularly from NYC that I really admire.
With them both I’ve always loved the attitude of not giving a f***, and the unapologetic attitude both places give off. Despite that I will always be born and raised here, and I love the place that made me, although I don’t truly know where I quite fit between the two places. I guess that’s for listeners to decide, but I’ll still be doing me regardless.
Happy: Your bio mentions that your music reflects the defining teenage triumphs and losses. Could you share some of the personal experiences that have shaped your songwriting?
Ayce: Too much though, things I’m still yet to address or touch on. Family breakdowns, betrayals, getting rowdy, heartbreak, evolution, it’s all there. I almost lost my mother at 13, have grown up in both the nicest and harshest places, seen addiction and violence, found love, lost it, sometimes been the reason I’ve lost it ahaha. There’s a lot there, and the beautiful thing is the story isn’t nearly done yet. Watch this space.
Happy: You work with renowned producers such as PAXONTHEBEAT and WayvBeats. How do these collaborations contribute to pushing the boundaries of genre and creating a unique sound for your music?
Ayce: Wayv’s been there since the start when I couldn’t hold a note or even had the confidence to use my voice on a track, he’s definitely been a massive support and witness to the growth I’ve been able to achieve. A true brother to this day, and I’m so proud of all he’s been able to do since those times.
PAX and I met around the end of 2021 and his ear, patience and experience have been so fundamental to the music that I’ve been able to make over the last couple of years. We really have such good chemistry, and we’ll spend damn near two hours every session just chopping it up before we even get to the music.
His unwillingness to be defined by a genre or structure, and his attention to detail has just been unmatched by any other producer I’ve had the privilege to observe or work with thus far. I owe so much to how he’s pushed me with building the records that you’ll hear very, very soon.
Happy: With the current state of the world, particularly in a post-pandemic context, how do you see your music resonating with listeners and reflecting the experiences of this generation?
Ayce: I think that feeling of being boxed in and held down has been felt by all too many, but especially young people who have had some of the most significant years of their development cut up and shut down by the circumstances that we just so happened to be born into.
That energy has been a driving force in what and how I create, and definitely given me a chip on my shoulder, which I believe a whole lot of us have with all the tools we’ve equally been born with the ability to harness in achieving our respective goals and ambitions.
Happy: As you continue to emerge into the music scene, what are your aspirations and goals for the future? Are there any specific milestones or achievements you’re aiming for?
Ayce: I want to do a show for Canberra and have all the people I grew up with be there. I want to also do a local festival hell, why not combine the two and bring it to Canberra I know they’d love it.
I want to continue to work with my team on various projects, building an independent label, cultivating a merch line, and a few more things that are happening in the background as we speak.
I want to be able to bridge the gap between Aus and the States and be able to shine some light on what we’ve got going on here, and I think with both scenes fueling the music I make I don’t think that’s something out of reach. Simply allowing music to take me to places I never would have thought I would get the opportunity to visit is something I can’t wait to experience.
I want to have the full freedom and capability to really make a beautiful project. Like no holding back experimental as possible and genre-bending. I still need to develop myself and my sound though.
…oh and I need to do a Narduar interview
Happy: What makes you happy?
Ayce: Being able to make my family and the people who’ve believed in me proud. Being able to inspire those around me and enable those around me gives me a sense of purpose and true accomplishment more than any materialistic vice ever could.
All that deep shit aside, being with my people, making memories, good music, all that stuff. I’m not hard to please, and I can be comfortable anywhere. That’s it really :)
.. and buy my mum a house.
Checkout ‘Home’ and keep in touch with Ayce for info on the next release