CANBERRA singer/songwriter Aya Yves has been selected as one of two emerging artists to perform at the first “Express Yourself – Queer Discovery” music showcase this weekend.
Along with Sydney rapper JamarzOnMarz, she’ll be joining ARIA award-winning Montaigne on stage for the very first event this Saturday, November 28, at The Beresford Upstairs in Surry Hills.
A joint initiative between Mardi Gras and APRA AMCOS, “Express Yourself – Queer Discovery” is a series of three music showcases that will see emerging LGBTQI+ artists perform alongside a headliner to a room of music industry heavyweights and the public.
Already a well-known folk-pop singer in Canberra under the name Vendulka, Yves has performed on the folk circuit, been twice-named National Busking Champion and closed TEDxCanberraWomen 2019 in a duet with Lucy Sugerman, but fate intervened when she wrote an inspirational new song, “(in)Sanity”, that made her think “I knew I wanted to start something new”.
With a new style of dark, electronic pop, done in collaboration with producer Xavier Dunn, who’s also worked with Slum Sociable, Jack River and Peking Duck, it was time for a new name too.
“I had a dream about the name ‘Aya’ which in Japanese means ‘design’, ‘colourful’ or ‘beautiful’, but in Hebrew means ‘to fly swiftly’. When I woke up I wrote it down in my notebook and I thought, this was the start of a new chapter,” she says.
There were a few other ideas for a surname but she chose “Yves”, French for “Eva” and the name of her sister.
Having grown up in Cooma, Aya moved to Canberra at age 15 and studied at Dickson College, where she spent her lunchtimes in music groups, and now divides her time between Sydney and Giralang.
“It’s not just a change of name but it’s a totally new project,” she says, explaining that it meant a new physical image and a different logo.
Now that she’s been selected for “Express Yourself – Queer Discovery”, to which a friend had alerted her, she’s facing up to potential fame.
“It’s a pretty public way to announce that I was not straight,” she says.
“Having only come out recently, I was hesitant to apply but I’m so glad I did. This solidifies my acceptance of myself, as well as an opportunity for me to show my pride in being a part of the LGBTQI community.”
She’ll be performing this Saturday in front of a panel of judges that includes Marcia Hines, singer/songwriter Gordi, producer Alex Hope, Mardi Gras CEO Albert Kruger and APRA AMCOS CEO Dean Ormston.
The gig part of Great Southern Nights, a new music event to kick-start the recovery of the live music industry – featuring 1,000 covid-safe gigs across Sydney and regional NSW throughout November.
There’ll be three public showcases around Australia with each artist performing two songs. From the six, two will be selected to play on the mainstage at Mardi Gras.
”Maybe at the SCG, just a little bit different from what I’ve been doing,” Yves says.
Applications for January showcases are now open at apraamcos.com.au/expressyourself