At a young age, Aqyila recognized music’s power to inspire and unify. “I’d watch American Idol. I loved watching people with out-of-this-world talent inspire so many people through music—making them feel something.” says the Mississauga-based R&B singer and songwriter. “That’s when I knew I wanted to sing.” Years later, Aqyila finds herself being a source of immense talent and inspiration with her feel-good viral TikTok hit, “Vibe For Me (Bob For Me).”
“I wasn’t even trying to go viral!” Aqyila explains. Since posting the song in November 2020, “Vibe For Me” has reached more than 20 million views and nearly three million likes. The video also amassed 4.5 million TikTok creates, including one by R&B singer, Monica. Singer Lizzo even created a cover—which started a cute interaction between the two when Lizzo commented “Love u” under Aqyila’s duet of said cover. The song itself has been streamed more than 7 million times on Spotify and now she’s dropping its video counterpart.
We caught up with Aqyila to vibe with her about the new music video and her past life working as hostess at a Mexican restaurant, daydreaming about making a career out of her passions.
Aqyila is your middle name, is there any special meaning behind this being your artist name?
To be honest, I created the spelling of my middle name. It’s legally spelled as Aquiyla. I just thought Aqyila looked cooler, so I created that as my online presence name.
Before your music career, you were pursuing an education in Child & Youth Care, was music always your next step?
I have a younger brother and I feel like that’s why I always go into protector mode when it comes to children and why I always want to be there to help them.The first semester of the program was awesome. It was the second semester of the first year that threw me for a loop. It was the time when college professors had gone on strike for a month. When we all came back, the curriculum was rushed and I felt like I was just falling behind. My breaking point was when I entered one of my classes and didn’t even know there was a test that day. I guessed everything, handed it in and went to the bathroom to cry. I knew I wasn’t happy anymore. That day, I told my mom what happened, and she supported my decision to not return. I know myself, I can’t and will not do something that is making me unhappy. After that, I worked at many different retail stores in the mall and eventually one of my best friends told me to apply at her workplace—which was a Mexican restaurant—because they were hiring. I worked as a hostess/expo, I enjoyed it. We played hip-hop, R&B, Latin, and dancehall so work didn’t feel like actual work. After a while, I found myself daydreaming at the host stand about how my next step would be me doing something I love.
What was your creative process and inspiration behind “Vibe for Me”? It’s such a fire track!
Thank you! After my original freestyle “Baby it’s the Bob for Me” went viral, I was asked by hundreds of people to make a version saying ‘vibe’ instead. So, of course, I was like why not haha. I re-sang my song using Vibe instead and then people insisted I write a full song. On December 24 I stayed up all night recording my full version to the beat. While writing, I kept in mind how I wanted people to feel inspired and confident in themselves. Loving who you are is important, there are no flaws in you.
You’ve been writing since 10 years old and producing your own sounds in GarageBand. Has your creative process changed now that you have access to studios, engineers, and more people to collaborate with?
Yes, songwriting is my favourite thing to do next to recording. My creative process is still the same; I listen to a beat on loop, record some melodic gibberish over it, start jotting down words, and soon a song is in the works. Working with producers has been the absolute best. It’s a better feeling to help create a beat from scratch; makes the song one of a kind. In sessions when I’m songwriting, I don’t mind pulling lyrics that producers/songwriters come up with, cause I feel like there’s always room for ideas.
What’s next for Aqyila? You previewed a snippet of a new song on TikTok. Can we expect more singles or an EP soon?
Another single is coming soon! I’ve been making so many songs these past few months. The snippet I posted on TikTok is hands down my favourite song I’ve created and trust there’s a lot that comes close. I played the full track for my best friends during our girl’s night and we were dancing and getting hype, so that feels amazing. I will say, I love versatility so I made sure I don’t sound the same on every single song I create. I can’t wait till I also release my first EP, more bodies of work to share with everyone.
By Stephan Boissonneault
With fresh folklore in abundance, the east coast songwriter’s sophomore offering is a classic tribute to his beloved province.