Ayo Bamidele is an independent music maker based in east London, England. He has been involved in music for over 20 years. His music takes on a mixture of styles soul, jazz and folk. It’s a mellow sound, full of rich melodies and thought provoking lyrics, the main feature must be Ayo`s distinctive deep and soulful vocals. Comparisons have been made with such luminaries as Richie Havens, Van Morrison, Tracy Chapman and John Martyn.
Ayo was born in London in, his parents came to England from Nigeria in the early sixties. His early musical experiences were listening to his parents juju and highlife records, King Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obe and Prince Nico are just a few of the artists. Although the songwriting started when Ayo was around 13 he didn't actually get his first guitar until four years later. So began a frustrating period of slowly learning to write songs. Not finding any vibrant musical community to join and benefit from this was a largely solitary labour of love. A turning point was attending a music summer school in 1989 and being tutored by the late Isaac Guillory.
"Playing with Isaac for a few short sessions was a revelation, he basically showed me how to turn the song lyrics and melodies into properly formed songs"
After playing in a succession of bands and developing his songwriting skills Ayo finally started to gain some success a few years ago, he formed a band Delta Blue under which he would perform and record. The EP The Place Where Love Is was released in on Ayo's own Nesta Records Label. Over the next two years worked with bass player Holger Gafert. The line up complemented by various drummers, keyboards, sax, flute and percussion players. The Place Where Love received excellent reviews and was compared in some places to the work of Nick Drake for its orchestral arrangement. This led to some prestigious live dates supporting the late Ian Dury, Jazz Jamaica and Glen Tilbrook among others. The band completed their debut album Soul Sketches in 2000 with producer Roger Askew (Christy Moore, Spike Drivers), working on several tracks. The remaining tracks were produced by the band themselves.
Ayo put The Song Makers Project together in 2001 releasing the compilation The Song Makers Project Volume 1. This included tracks from Billy Bragg, Eric Bibb and a host of less well known acts. This was again released on Ayo's Nesta Records label. With funding from the Arts Council he organised a short tour of England playing in London, Brighton, Bristol Nottingham and Newcastle. He also set up rootsmusic.co.uk the internationally renowned roots music fanzine.
In 2002 Ayo formed a full four piece band including his long time collaborator Paolo Losi on Keyboards. They recorded the album River Roding again with Roger Askew, at Utopia Studio's in Hertfordshire. This is an album of outstanding beauty including tracks such as Waterfall, Once in my life, Every Day, High and many more.
Ayo is currently recording solo and has produced four highly regarded Solo Acoustic Albums.
A turning point for me came when I was about thirteen years old. The world had suddenly become a bigger place not just my little world of home, school and places in between. All the suffering and injustices of life became apparent for some reason, the starving children on the news and the EEC wheat or butter mountains. The two armed camps at the close of the cold war, government information films saying hide under the stairs and put Sellotape on the windows when the air raid warning sounds. Then amidst all this you get some "Popstar (we had no time for popstars where I lived) singing;
You see your kidney machines replaced by rockets and guns and the public gets what the public wants.......
Paul Weller Going Underground
The words poured out with passion and anger, the attraction was immediate and permanent. Music could actually be something very profound in your life, it could connect with your deepest thoughts and ideas and help make sense of them, or least shatter your feelings of hopelessness and isolation. So my own songs started to emerge really as some kind of cathartic relief from what I was going through. As my eyes opened ever wider with new experiences and getting on top of life and falling down again so new songs would chart the course and so it is today. The labour of love is still in effect, I keep travelling searching new truths deeper discoveries and understandings some of which materialise in to tunes some don't.
When people say why do you still do it after all this time ? I say because its what I do.