Swedish-Iranian singer, Ayelle has released her debut project, NOMAD. In the mixtape, she reflects on life experiences while exploring a range of topics such as self-worth, power dynamics in relationships, and love. She invites listeners into her world with bittersweet lyrics, emotive vocals, and engaging stories. The project features collaborations with Rationale and production cuts from Stavros, Lucas Nord & The Elements.
NOMAD is a collection of songs written by Ayelle over the past two years. For her, the goal is to invite listeners to explore feelings that are sometimes uncomfortable, but essential for growth — especially mentally. The mixtape is a smooth blend of R&B and Pop records. Tracks like, “Trust,” “Effort,” and “Choice” were released earlier this year to promote the project. Meanwhile, fresh tunes like “What The Hell,” “The Greatest” and “Feel It” are like sugar to the ears. Listen to NOMAD below, and read Ayelle’s breakdown of the songs in the project.
1. "Fast Life"
I wrote this in New York with one of my favorite producers, Stavros, who I worked on 6 tracks on this mixtape with. We made it in March 2019 and it's all about conquering FOMO and deciding to stay in to do self-care rather than getting caught up in the "fast life". Fast forward one year and quarantine happened pretty much at the same time as I released the single which felt like a bizarre twist of fate. Even though staying in is the last thing we want to do right now, this song reminds me to take advantage of the opportunity at hand to slow down and redirect my energy onto what's really matters to me.
This track is another one I made with Stavros about wanting to keep spending time with someone against your better judgment. Sometimes it just feels so right that all of your reasons not to be in a relationship go out the window and what was intended to be a short-lived fling turns into something much more.
3. "What The Hell"
Playing off a similar theme to Overtime, 'What The Hell' narrates an internal dialogue I had whilst falling for someone when I really didn't mean to and suddenly being so ridiculously happy that all of my other plans started to pale in comparison. I wrote it in London with Rationale, a great friend and regular collaborator, at another time of great uncertainty in my life whilst I was waiting for my O Visa to move to New York. It kept getting delayed and so we kept writing songs in London and I'm happy we did because the stuff that came out of that space of uncertainty is really special to me. There is a push and pull of longing and nostalgia to what we made at that time which I find really comforting listening to now.
"Effort" was written in Stockholm together with some fantastic Swedish writers, Julia Polly Adams, Nils Tull and produced by Lucas Nord. I took a one-week writing trip there and it really revived a lot of my pop roots where I fell in love with that quirky scandi sound and found myself wanting to fuse it with my usual soul/r&b leanings. I had so much fun writing it and opposite to what the title indicates it really came about so effortlessly. It's basically about wanting your partner to make the effort to get off social media and pay attention to you in real life and really be present.
5. "The Greatest"
This is another one I wrote in London in between different trips with a super talented production duo called The Elements. Growing up I've had a somewhat strained relationship with my father and this song was part of this healing process I went through where I decided to leave certain things in the past and take a moment to re-focus on all the amazing gifts he's given me and acknowledging that he always did his best. It didn't always feel like that, but now when I look back I can see it and be grateful for him.
I wrote Choice with Rationale about that moment when we all get to decide whether to go for it or not, when it comes to love that is. The uncertainty of a new relationship can be crazy scary and people get all kinds of triggers and act out in weird ways. Ultimately though, even if something feels real, the other person might not be ready to go there and there's nothing you can do about it, just respect their choice.
7. "Feel It"
Playing off the previous track this song delves further into that concept of wanting someone who's not ready to commit to you so they push you away. This song was my way of still embracing my feelings regardless of the hurt and owning it as part of my journey. The feeling was just too beautiful to ignore. I'll always encourage feeling our feelings and move through them as a method of healing, rather than ignoring it or pretending otherwise. That's kind of the whole point of why I make music. This one is also produced by the production duo I mentioned earlier, The Elements.
This was definitely the most uncomfortable song for me to write. I didn't know that I was gonna write it. It didn't make much sense because it happened so long ago and the beat is this playful bouncy vibe but I guess that's what allowed me enough distance to explore my emotions about it in a way that felt safe and empowering. It also says a lot about how comfortable I feel writing with Stavros, he really lets me take the song just about anywhere and that freedom brings out unexpected things sometimes. The song is about the aftermath of when I was raped by a much older man when I was 16 years old. I buried that experience deep and pretty much immediately. It took two years before it resurfaced and I was able to admit to myself that it had even happened. All the frustrations and doubts are in there. I still grapple with guilt and shame from it but I've also grown enormously since then and healed in ways I didn't know I could.
Another one I wrote with Stavros in New York, "Trust" is about the tumultuous sides of a relationship, the ups and downs and the ugly sides we sometimes bring out in each other. I personally believe people come into our lives to mirror ourselves and help us grow, even as we clash we're still teaching each other something.
This track was the first I wrote on the mixtape and the first song Stavros and I ever made together. It also really marks a kind of the beginning of a period in my life where I started to embrace this nomadic aspect of myself. I've always revolted against anyone who's tried to control me in any way or said that I couldn't do something. I've just gone out and done it anyways but around a couple of years ago when I wrote this was when I was really starting to live that way, traveling and constantly pushing myself out of my comfort zone. Anyone who tries being in a relationship with me has to accept that part of me and the constant uncertainty that comes with being unrooted in the way I am, never knowing where I'm going next.
My favourite moment in the track is "Yeah my mom's a fortune teller" because she actually is and it makes this song so much more than just a love song, but also a tribute to her influence in me developing the sense of freedom that allows me to live like this and embrace not fully belonging anywhere. Her love is the ultimate safe space, which makes the uncertainty of everything else manageable and even exciting.
I don't wanna go into this one too much other than clarifying that it's not about a love interest. And anyone who's ever experienced what I talk about in the song will know what it's about, I hope it's a place for you to hug and comfort your inner child whilst also mourning the loss of love, cause that pain never goes away. This one is also produced by Stavros.
12. "Got Love"
Written in London, where I first started my artist project, and produced by The Elements, this track felt like the perfect ending to this journey to me, because it's not really an ending but a continuous evolving mess of feelings, uncertainty, love, trauma, contradictions, and healing which has molded me into who I am. And regardless of everything the one thing I have an overwhelmingly large amount of is love. For that, I am eternally grateful and I hope I can put it to good use."