2021 Artist to Watch: Ayers

Ayers is an apparition. 

There is something arresting and spellbinding about her music. Here, a haunting and comforting melody. There, a banshee croon that comes out of nowhere. 

All over, chords and instrumentation that sound off but perfectly in their place, too. 

Ayers is a fresh new voice but an old soul.

Poetic lyrics reminiscent of the Beats, a story about the incredible life and times of a beloved matriarch, and musings on gender roles and relationships make it clear she’s “woke”. Singing in a voice closer to the other ’20s, the timbre and lilt of her voice echo that of Billie Holiday by way of Chan Marshall and Karen O, but there are pieces of PJ Harvey and Joni Mitchell in there, too.

Ayers may be a genius.

Giving off serious old-world vibes and surrounded by sparse otherworldly production, she’s more concerned with telling a story, painting a picture, or making a poignant argument.

And she’s doing it in a way that’s either never been done before or in a way interesting enough that it feels like it’s never been done before.

Lacking traditional choruses (but not missing them), Ayers’ songs contain mesmerizing patterns, beautiful melodies, and those “Ooh, ooh, this is my favorite part” bits.

With sample lyrics like, “Female friendship’s end will always be more tragic than any romance”, “I’m just a ghost doing the dishes”, and “Remember the porch parties before America was crying so hard?”, Ayers has an interesting perspective and a voice you want to hear more of and know more about. 

That last part, though, is a little tricky.

Ayers is proof that true unadulterated music discovery is still possible in the pandemic age, but everything else can be a little more difficult.

With no web presence, no social media accounts, no A&R rep or publicity firm sending a three-swipe deep dive press release about her background, influences, credit score, and shoe size, Ayers is a real 21st-century ghost.

All that can be discerned from her manager Martin Pike of Associated London Management is that Ayers is based out of Chicago but calls New Orleans her spiritual home and, in the past, her actual real home. She has performed in New Orleans, Austin, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Upon hearing her demos, someone with a good ear asked her to record some songs at Wilco’s Loft Studio. Of these Loft session songs that have made their way to SoundCloud, ‘Mediocre Meditation’ and ‘Us/U.S. Dreamers Stabbed at Night’ has been released on Spotify.

Knowing this and taking her management’s response at their word about the significant label interest, it’s likely Ayers’ enigmatic star is rising. In fact, it’s almost certain. After all, ‘Mediocre Meditation’ may be the perfect pandemic song, brilliantly capturing the emotional, physical, and spiritual malaise of isolation. And ‘Us/U.S. Dreamers Stabbed at Night’ is a stirring account of the protests. With all of this in mind and still with as little as known about Ayers, it will be fascinating to see where she lands, on what label, and what direction she goes in. 

What we do know, we know. What we don’t know, we can speculate about. 

What has been released, we can listen to and enjoy – and isn’t that the whole point of music anyway?

For now, we have this set of songs from the Wilco Loft sessions that include:

‘Burning Ceiling Fan’
‘Female Friendship Fin’
‘Gregory Crewdson’
‘Mediocre Meditation’

Listen here:

And ‘Mediocre Meditation’ and ‘Us/U.S. Dreamers Stabbed at Night’ here:


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