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Jonathan Ayaz redefines "Fordham's Finest"

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Fordham University

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- experimental

Jonathan Ayaz redefines "Fordham's Finest"

His brand new EP "ONYXX" is now queued indefinitely

11.6.16

Photography by Michael Li & Albert Hasan / Sleepless Productions

I think we can confidently conclude that the Bronx bled onyx this weekend. A tangible hype for the release of senior Jonathan Ayaz’s EP, ONYXX, has been migrating through our microcosm of the Bronx. As a member of Flava for the past two years, Ayaz’s trademark has been the way he moved to melody and lyrics, but now as a published recording artist, his trademark will be writing and singing them. Despite having no prior dance experience, Ayaz became a part of the Flava family in '14, channeling his creative energy to complement his singing and songwriting dreams. After just a year, he was nominated Creative Director. With Jonathan's mixes and choreography, the team’s artistic outlook is carved with completely different perspective: that of a music and lyrical aficionado. Anyone that knows him knows Jon to be an infectious spirit with an undeniable style. During his jam-packed release weekend, he snuck in a few minutes to sit down with us.
Talk to us about Flava! You do it all. 
Thanks! My love for music has absolutely evolved thanks to being at Fordham. Coming to college, I was so scared about not having an outlet to express myself musically (no one wants to hear someone belting out in a dorm room). It was only after joining Flava that I finally felt like I was able to release that energy and expression that was bottled up for so long. I discovered a new way to express myself musically, which was an incredible gift to discover.

Why release an EP now, on the brink of graduation and a full time career? 
It’s always easier to not try something than to try and fail, so I guess I was just scared to try before. But I was in Los Angeles this past summer and was surrounded by music industry people who could potentially make my dreams come true, and I had nothing to show for my artistry. That gave me the kick in the ass to stop being scared and finally go for it.

LA or NYC? Why? 
As much as I loved living in LA, New York will always be my home. (He spent this past summer interning with Career Artist Management on the #bestcoast) But the music industry is mostly centered in Los Angeles, so I predict my music will lead me there.

Who influences you? 
My biggest musical influences are Michael Jackson, Björk, Whitney Houston, Amy Lee of Evanescence, and Kanye West. My mom played a lot of R&B/Soul when I was little, so that influenced my style of singing, and my own discoveries of genres like electronic and hip-hop further influenced my sound as a whole.

What was the inspiration behind your edgy, yet heartfelt lyrics? 
I think the largest inspiration for my deeper, darker lyrics is simply my experiences. I can’t write lyrics that aren’t 100% true to my life, and that somehow leads to songs that are more melancholy, edgy and honest.

One word to describe you as an artist?
Boundless. (We agree, Jon. We agree.)
 
Soundtrack to your life?
The album “Heal” by Loreen.
 
What's the one song that gets you pumped up regardless?
(Ours is now Diamonds, swear.)
Thank you! It’s probably a tie between 99 Problems by Jay-Z and Power by Kanye West.

Where do you hope this EP will take you?
I, of course, would love for this EP to gain a large audience and be heard by the masses, but not for the reasons one might think. I always look back to when I was younger and wish I had more artists to look up to and think, “Fuck! They know exactly how I feel.” I want to be that for anyone who’s listening and needs to know that someone else understands how they feel. In a perfect world, I would love for my music to just take me around the world traveling and playing shows. My biggest joy in life is being able to perform on stage. It's a high that is unexplainable. (https://vimeo.com/162981667)

Speaking of concerts, you’re known not just for going, but snagging front row seats to the hottest ones in town. I mean, hello...Adele?
Adele is God reincarnated (sorry Father McShane, it’s true). Going to concerts is something I love so much. I’ve probably been to over 70 concerts since high school. I just love to see artists do what they love, because they have inspired me to do what I love. At concerts, I try to put myself in the performer’s minds and imagine what they are feeling in that moment. I saw Beyoncé at MetLife last month, and I could just feel how free she was. That’s the dream.

If you had the opportunity to collab with any musician or producer who would that be and why? 
Max Martin is one of the greatest producers in my opinion, but a newer producer I would love to work with is Malay. Above all, I would love to work with Lady Gaga. I learned a lot about what it means to be a true artist from studying her over the years.

What is something you want all your fans to know about you? What is something you'd prefer them not to know but are open to share? 
For those who listen to my music and enjoy it, I would want them to know that they’ll never understand the happiness it brings me to hear that my music has made a difference, no matter how small. Sharing music is quite literally like taking a page from someone’s diary and posting it all over the Internet. It’s a bit nerve-wracking to share my deepest emotions, but I have to be open to share those things or my music won’t be honest, and that’s not being a true artist.
GaGa would be proud.

Do you want to address your fans, particularly Fordham fans? We love you!
Oh man, I don’t know if I’m worthy enough to use the moniker “fans” quite yet! (laughs - and yes, you are) But there aren’t words to describe the amount of support and love I’ve received from everyone who has told me how much they love the EP. It’s been overwhelming and absolutely incredible. Fordham is seriously my family, and the support I’ve received is just more proof of that. Thank you to everyone from the bottom of my heart.

Snaps to you, Sir Ayaz.
Be sure to check out ONYXX on...