tw Hidden Gems: Tay Iwar

Our talent for this week is the silky-voiced Austin ‘Tay’ Iornongu Iwar: a recording artist, singer, songwriter, audio engineer and record producer. Born 20 years ago on the 9th of June, the seeds of Tay’s relationship with music were planted by his parents’ insistence that all their children attend classical music school.

However, it wasn’t until he started playing the guitar at 13, that he decided a career in music was the path for him, leading him to jump ship from his original plan to study law. According to his Ted talk which held at Port Harcourt in 2015, he was introduced to FL Studio and started producing his own music in SS1.

Asides from being a multi-dimensional musician, he along with his brothers – Terna and Sute, co-founded the “Bantu Collective”: a group of “independent professionals invested in producing innovative art, focusing on the shared cultural experience of the Nigerian and global urban trend-setter.”

I was introduced to his talents by our Assistant Editor, Elizabeth. His music is a calm blend of neo-soul, jazz, blues and sometimes, reggae. Starting with “Don’t do it Issa” a recently released single, was a good idea as his smooth vocals, augmented with light auto tune in select parts of the song left me no choice but to acknowledge the years of practice underlying his sound.

His lyrical style takes the form of a first-person narrative, that paints a picture of his thoughts using vivid metaphors and the addition of echoes in the background of most of his music serves to enhance the otherworldly nature of this perspective.

His debut music project, “Passport”, was a 12 track album released in 2014 with his brother Sute making an appearance on two tracks, Gabriel and Bounc3. The album was under promoted and on release, did not live up to expectations performance wise. It, however, grew in popularity over time, becoming a sleeper hit averaging 20,000 listens per track on the Bantu Collective soundtrack page and 11,000 views on YouTube. My favorite track, “Lust or Love” an Afro-RnB groove, took me on a journey through memories of the loud, carefree teen-aged university students dancing at dimly lit house parties.

Having earned a measure of critical acclaim with “Passport”, Tay released his next album in 2017, an 8 track compilation titled “Renascentia”, which so far has an average of 20,000 listens per track on Soundcloud. I especially liked “Equestrian Love”, a softly rendered narrative of an especially intense encounter with his lover accompanied by the heavy reverb typical of the neo-soul genre. His sound on this album has a more western feel compared to Passport.

Based on his musical archetype, Tay can be described as a blend of The Weeknd, Roy Woods, and Dare Art-Alade. Boasting a constantly growing following numbered in the thousands on various social media platforms, Tay is definitely someone to watch out for, and a huge part of the future of Nigerian Music.

What do you think about Tay Iwar?

Let us know in the comments section below!


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