Most of us would be surprised to hear a DJ speak intimately with a crowd, but AYA, formerly known as LOFT, is an artist whose live appearances strike a balance between heady critical theory and cheek irreverence, respecting the vast heritage of dance music and its communal space while also, well, taking the piss. A typical night of DJing from AYA prominently features live commentary of the set as it is happening, hopping on the mic mid-track to offer up such quips. This is far from an act of trolling – for AYA, the thrill of a live performance comes from subverting the audience’s expectations, completely breaking down the wall that separates them from the performer, and pulling the rug out from under them.
AYA’s music acts in essentially the same way. Her 2019 EP 'and departt from mono games' is ambiguous and hard to describe. It condenses an array of genres into a whole that is not quite dance and not quite ambient, coursing with an undercurrent of profuse feeling but pointedly denying the listener a chance to get their bearings or emerge with a coherent interpretation. It is brilliant through and through, but as a standalone work, it simply can’t convey the multitudes of a full AYA performance. In headphones, she is an artist who presents an evocative head trip through decades of club music, while in a live set she is a true character – replete with otherworldly make-up and the occasional accent – who actively guides the crowd through this journey, toying with audiences’ perceptions of the role of a DJ and the social dynamics of the club.
AYA's constantly evolving, provocative and transgressive approach to both her music and live sets alike makes her a perfect addition to No Bounds 2021.