Amy Ayanda is a lot of things; she a musician, an artist, a dog-owner, a friend, a domestic partner, and she’s a mom. For the most part, she explains, her everyday style is very much geared towards functionality and pragmatism. “If I make money it’s not really going to go towards me buying something that’s just gone on the rails. I just don’t have the money to dress like what people would consider cool,” she says, laughing.
As she poses for a shot in her daughter’s room, with her dog and daughter on her lap, I ask whether becoming a mother has changed the way she styles herself. She explains that she only started performing as Amy Ayanda after she became pregnant, so with help from her friend Grace de Kroon, who is a stylist, she wears things she feels most comfortable in. “My breasts got really big when I was pregnant,” she tells me, “so I didn’t want to wear anything that was too revealing of my boobs, because I felt very self-conscious, so Grace and I would choose things that were quite flowy and feminine.”
The flowy dresses and feminine style she incorporates in her look also seem to mimic the dreamy melodies present in her music; “I don’t want to use the word meditative, but sometimes it can get a bit spiritual, or you get into a groove, so in that way we’re not doing anything that sticks out or ruins the feeling or flow of the music.” She explains how the band is called Amy Ayanda, so at the moment her bandmates (Dean Berger, who is also her partner, and Daniel Breiter) just wear plain black or white t-shirts when they perform, but they’re thinking of more ways to integrate their identity as a band.
Because she’s also a visual artist, I ask if there’s a correlation between the two media she works in, particularly in regard to the thematic ideas behind what she creates and how she presents herself. “It’s interesting that you said that,” she states, “because at the moment I’m quite obsessed with boobs. Because of the breastfeeding thing, and how big they are, it’s quite difficult to dress. So all of my art recently just has boobs. I still have this crazy obsession with them, kind of just celebrating different forms of them. So, dressing to the way I’m feeling physically and then that coming out in my art definitely is related, but just saying this now has made me realise it.”
She changes into another outfit and we move down to her studio, where she also runs an art programme for kids called Little Art Angels. While she poses for another photo, I probe her on whether she feels pressure to look a certain way given the industry she’s in. She replies sincerely, “Music is something I do very much because I love it, and I love doing it with Dean and Daniel.” But she’s also aware that Amy Ayanda is a brand, and what she puts out under that brand needs to remain consistent and authentic. This also relates to how Amy’s forming her identity, not only as an artist, but also as a human being.
She tells me that a lot of people don’t know she is half-coloured, which is something she’s coming to embrace more and more. In a recent photo shoot she wore her hair naturally, and this was something that was really important to her. “Everything that I do is a process, in terms of being comfortable and understanding what I do and who I am, and I think it’s important to put that out there,” she proclaims. “There is an uncertainty in what I do all the time because I’m also struggling to balance things, and I’m not shy to show that.”