FLOURISH FEST: INTERVIEW #4 – THANYA IYER

As part of the media coverage for FLOURISH (April 25-28), not your boys club will be having conversations with some of the folks that will be organizing, creating, and performing at the festival.

For the fourth interview in the series, I spoke with Thanya Iyer (she/her), “an enigmatic songwriter who crafts sparkling experimental pop music” (2018) who is one-third of her self-titled band, Thanya Iyer (Montreal). Currently working on a visual album called “Kind”, their music “empowers listeners to embrace mindfulness, aesthetic beauty, and the interconnectedness of all things” (2018).

Thanya 2 by Sophie Grouev .jpgPhoto by Sophie Grouev

In your music there are themes of change, healing, growth, and dreaming – all tools for resistance. Are there overarching forces that drive and motivate these themes in your songwriting?

Definitely! Songwriting and music in general for me has this amazing ability to engage people, create community and provide healing in a deeply therapeutic way. My songs are about my journey and the journey of life, the things we face throughout them, where we are going, where we come from, who we are. A lot of my songs tell stories that travels through questions around racism, healing, chronic pain and disability, aging, depression, and acceptance.

I’ve noticed that while you are resistant to define your own music, you have been explicit that you do not use guitar. Your soundscape, and the intentional absence of guitar, draws many parallels for me to Lido Pimienta! During a live performance, I recall her stating that she’s not interested in collaborating and creating sound with guitar – drawing it back to being a woman of colour in an industry that is dominated by white men with guitars. Would you be willing to share reasons and feelings behind your intentional absence of guitar?

Its true! We don’t have a guitar. While I have many beautiful friends who play the guitar and know some wonderful people who have guitars in their music, it’s just not really something that has ever appealed to me! A lot of the musical frequencies that the range of the guitar has is quite similar to violins and synths that I already cover and of course there is just also a high frequency of white men with guitars in the universe already. (I love Lido Pimienta by the way and all her work and am so inspired by her music and motherhood and vibe).

It is definitely difficult to be in a world where there isn’t a lot of visibility for amazing women and folks of colour creating awesome music and doing wonderful things. Because insecurities do come up about your worth and your ability to keep going, and incidents where people treat you less then you are happen. A discussion with a good friend a couple years ago made me realize that maybe it’ll take just a little bit longer for my music to reach the surface because i’m not really “marketable” (in the sense that I’m not white and didnt have bangs (no offence to people with bangs)). But I feel like the best thing that we can do is just keep doing it! Never give up and live our truth. All of my role models and the musicians I love are just doing it! Making amazing music and just continuing! Living their truth and pushing forward in a world that’s not so easy to exist in.

I read in an interview (2018) that you were in the recording stages of an album that you will be calling Kind. Can we expect to hear this album in the near-future?

Yes, you can hear it eventually but I’m not exactly sure when! Definitely within the next year! We are in the process of finishing the album, and we recently had some sessions with some amazing collaborators who are all bandleaders of their own and a part of the montreal community (including a very rad group of female singer-songwriters who formed the MAWMZ PLUS choir, Tamara Sandor, Emilie Kahn on harp and voice, Corey Gulkin, Brigitte Naggar (Common Holly), Shelby Cohen and Sarah Rossy and Frédérique Roy on voice and accordian) – . We are just in the final stages making a mix and making some art and all of that stuff.

Another huge part of the project is that we would like to release the album as a 20 minute film. We have all the music ready and have the same team who created our DayDreaming music video on board to create some magic, Bucky Illingworth directing, Elysha Poirier and Sophia Grouev on animation!

For folks attending Flourish Festival, could you share what spaces you like to create and the impressions or messages you try to communicate during a live performance?

We love to create a space that is comfortable and safe and home! I love to connect with people and share and hear their stories and their journey. I love interacting with the audience and creating a warm atmospheric soundscape universe for people to submerge themselves in.

We recently added a new band member, Sophia Grouev who will be doing visual projections at the show. Sophia is such a lovely person and also helps create the dream world and vision we are going for, just to lift you out of reality for a moment and then bring you right back in.


See Thanya Iyer live:

April 11 – @ 12 CAT Arts Collective, Kingston, ON.

April 12 – Kazoo! Fest, Guelph, ON.

April 13th – w/ I am Robot & Proud, World News, and Precious Jewel @ Wavelength Music Series, Toronto, ON.

April 25th* – @ BAE, Bangor, ME.

April 26th – @ FLOURISH Festival, Fredericton, NB.

April 28th* – @ Casa Del Popolo, Montreal, QC.

April 29th* – @ Live! on Elgin, Ottawa, ON.

May 2nd* – @ This Ain’t Hollywood, Hamilton, ON.

May 3rd* – @ The Baby G, Toronto, ON.

May 4th* – @ Spark Art Space, Syracuse, NY.

May 5th* – @ BSP Kingston, Kingston, NY.

* – w/ And the Kids


Contribution by Nikki A Basset

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