Today iyah may shares her new single ‘XO Girl’, an anthem for everyone who refuses to be a pleaser and appeaser. Premiering last night on triple j’s Home & Hosed, the song also features up-and coming Gold Coast rapper Saint Lane.
The official video also out today, is directed by Kevin Bar (HP boyz, Jesswar) and produced by Jesse Dasey. Filmed in Brisbane, iyah says of the clip, “There’s a lot of self-conviction and empowerment in the lyrics of XO Girl, which is how I felt when I was writing it. At the time I was learning a lot about confidence, taking risks and trusting the process. I really wanted a video that captured some of those emotions and that energy but in a fun, kind of weird way.”
Behind the scenes of her newest release are years of iyah may’s journey to get to where she is now.
While studying to become a doctor, the rising Cairns-born artist – formerly known as Mayah – took a leap into the deep to do what she loved. She hung up her stethoscope and moved to New York City on a student loan, hellbent on pursuing any possible musical connection she could.
Before making the leap, though, she was at a crossroads. It was during her first year as a registered medical doctor that iyah may began writing ‘XO Girl’, a track about sticking to your convictions.
Friends and colleagues questioned her decision, and family members wondered if pursuing music was just a phase she’d come to regret. “I had to conquer some inner demons of self-doubt and back myself and follow what felt right.”
It was last year where she needed to draw from that deep well, as the global pandemic prompted an unplanned return to medicine, working in hospitals and virus clinics. The music she intended to make and release was put on pause and the drive that had propelled her so far slowed down, by necessity.
What followed was an abundance of fresh gratitude and appreciation, and a mindset reflected in her name change.
“I have close personal connections to the name iyah. It is a derivative of Mayah. It’s also a word that some of my family has used for years as a common expression of emotion and may be used to encourage others in a heartfelt way.” In other words: the perfect analogue for the attitude that got her through 2020. “It signals a forward chapter in my life. ‘iyah’ represents a year of reflecting. It’s a collision of my two worlds of musical creativity and medicine during a pandemic.”
No stranger to embedding tough realities into her music – her debut single ‘Pray’, released in 2019, was an honest reflection on the social pressures that threaten to bring us down when we get too lost in the social media scroll – iyah may understands the power of music to bring feelings to the surface and soundtrack tough times.
“XO Girl is drawn from being pulled in different directions and having trust in yourself. Sometimes that’s all that can get you through a year like the one we’ve just been through.”