Aziya is an artist unashamed to namecheck her heroes. In fact, it takes all of twenty seconds on ‘We Speak Of Tides’ groovy opening track for the 21-year-old to pay homage to one of her primary influences as a songwriter and guitar player: “It could be a Nirvana/never see him again/I could be like Kurt/better off without a friend”. Though not completely revelatory, it’s certainly refreshing; as rising talent shy away from genre tags and obscure their true musical inspirations in favour of catch-all appeal, seldom do we see a new talent namecheck their forebears with such enthusiasm and humility as Aziya has.
Given her journey to this point, it should come as little surprise. When her live adventures with her band were scuppered by the pandemic, she turned to social media platforms to establish her name, posting covers and name-checking of all the heroes she owes a debt of gratitude to: Led Zeppelin, Tame Impala, Prince and Blondie, to name a few. Not only did they help establish a fanbase, but scattered breadcrumbs for where she may go with her debut EP, melding together a love for psych-rock, pop, funk and just about everything else. Perhaps the no-genre tag is applicable here, after all.
The guitar is Aziya’s weapon of choice. In a recent interview with NME, she said that players that looked like her were few and far between, and that “a lot of my intention with my music and my playing is to fill the gap I saw when I was younger”. And when she does play, she does so with conviction and support, the EP’s accompanying production (by Aziya, of course) constructing less so a wall of sound, but a smokey, pastel coloured vapour. ‘Slip!’ is where it hits hardest: it’s a nifty guitar riff hitting a rock through a glass panel, or a bombshell text dropping down from the notifications bar.
Without all the layering and guitarwork, ‘Marathon’ has the feel of a classic Motown hit, with a driving rhythm, sharp pop songwriting and forthright attitude; it’s all the better for having it in. Closing track ‘Over Again’ is similarly intriguing, where the shredding is scuzzier, and the clattering, cloudy drum loops are loud and playful enough to fit on Tame Impala’s debut album ‘Innerspeaker’. The influences and nods to her heroes are blatant on this EP, but that doesn’t make them any less thrilling.
- Release date: July 2
- Record label: Osmo-Sis