A conversation with Canadian rising start Aqylia on social media, self love and how to have a positive impact as an artist.
The music industry has undergone a dramatic transformation in recent years, with social media platforms playing a significant role in discovering new talent. One such rising star is Aqylia, a young singer-songwriter who has taken Tik Tok by storm with her catchy and upbeat track “Vibe For Me (Bob For Me)”. With its irresistible hook and infectious rhythm, the song has become a sensation on the app, propelling Aqylia to fame and earning her a dedicated fan base.
The Toronto-born R&B musician Taahira Aqyila Duff, who is now 22 years old, has amassed over six million Spotify streams and 14 million views with three million likes on TikTok thanks to the success of her song “Vibe for Me (Bob for Me).” After Lizzo shared it, she posted it to her TikTok profile, where it quickly gained popularity.
While in Montreal, we had the pleasure of speaking with the singer about her new popularity and her future projects.
Best Kept: I was browsing through my social media on the way to our interview and started looking at your Instagram stories. It felt a little weird to find out about your privacy before we even met.
And at the same time, you just had your big break when over 20 million people saw you perform on Tik Tok. What is your relationship with social media and this access to your privacy?
Aqylia: I remember the first time I went viral on Tiktok itself, my phone kept pinging. So, I turned off notifications. But when I turned it back on, I was like what is going on? So, I went to look, and then I realized that it was kind of getting a lot of traction. At first, it was a joke for me as I was just talking about a wig and didn’t think that people were going to reuse the sound and then want to hear me sing the whole song about a weird wig.
Best Kept: Was it the moment you realized that things were about to change?
Aqylia: It only hit me once I saw so like Monica use it and a lot of like either well-known YouTubers or content creators use it as well. I think I really realized it when a lot of older people that could be my parents were messaging me and saying how the song inspired them to feel good with their skin and feel empowered and stuff.
I remember being just shocked by the power of social media itself. That’s also why you must be mindful about what you put out there. How are you going to impact people for the better. What is your music? What are the things that you’re saying? I’m very cautious, because I want to have a positive impact while still being a private person.
Best Kept: I can assure you that your personality shines through your publications and your music. You seem like such a positive person who encourages others to accept themselves. In fact, I’ve never seen such positive comments as underneath your videos on Youtube. Everyone is thanking you for this body positivity movement and sisterhood spirit.
Aqylia: When I’m making music and when I’m writing, it just puts me in a good mood. And I feel when people listen to my music, they get it. They instantly feel the vibes.
Even when I was writing for myself only, I was thinking about what are stuff that when people hear these affirmations, it will instantly make them feel beautiful and powerful. Like, this line about being beautiful with your hijab in Vibe for Me. I like that line because my grandma is Muslim, and I wanted to put representation in for her too. And just for anybody else that also is a part of that culture.
Best Kept: And now here you are two years later, with millions of views and streams on Spotifiy along with a Juno nomination. Did you have a moment where you were like, okay, this is going fast or were you already ready for it?
Aqylia: The Juno nomination was totally an eye-opening moment. Showing me how things can pivot fast. It makes me glad I’m having the people that I have by my side to carry me through this type of moment. It’s important to have a good team that also believes in you as much even though you’ll be the only person who really believe in yourself at the end of the day.
Best Kept: Your music has that early 2000s R&B sound that is so comforting. Was this a conscious choice or simply influenced by the music you grew up listening to?
Aqylia: R&B and gospel is what I really was raised on. And I love that music. And I want to share this type of music with people. I’m glad that people catch that type of sound in my music, even thought I wasn’t fully a conscious choice on my end.
Best Kept: I was listening to your song Oh and automatically felt like it was more intimate, while being this type of song that anybody that went through a heartbreak can relate to and be like “yeah, it hurts”.
Aqylia: It was actually a very fun song to make. I was on my second LA trip and that song was written by Trey Campbell. When we were in the writing session together, it was mayhem and we were just talking about like, heartbreak and personal stuff. And I started to softly sing this “oh” sound and we automatically thought that’s what the name of the song should be.
We also wanted to create something that anybody could relate to, and it might explain why it ended up being a heartbreak song. And when you approach this type of subject, of course it also turns into something personal because obviously, I’ve also experienced it just like a bunch of other people have. And it was good to tap into that type of memory, but also know that it is the a part of the healing process. Because, at the end of the day, whatever is meant for you will never miss you. Right?
Best Kept: I also like the whole cinematic feel of the music video. Were you implied a lot in the whole concept?
Aqylia: Absolutely. I told the team from the get-go that I wanted something very cinematic. I wanted a movie. And they made it happen. The feedback regarding the result has been so good because people weren’t expecting that. And that made me love the song even more, along with showing me the power of music videos too. Because hearing the song is one thing but then seeing like an actual story play out is totally another one.
Best Kept: Absolutely. And now that we have been able to discover many facets of your personality as an artist, we are ready more than ever for an album.
Aqylia: This Spring will be the official release of my very first EP and I am so happy that it is finally wrapped up. And it is a story. It starts off with like, you know, some boy problems and then it kind of goes into self growth. With the healing process and new beginnings.
Go listen now to Aqylia’s latest single Hello!
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Lifestyle columnist specializing in spirits, food, music and travel. For more than 8 years, she has been sharing her love for a luxurious lifestyle through articles published in Whisky Magazine, VICE, Nuvo and Dress To Kill.