Interview with Aya Ishida #3

by Donte Jeffers

Aya Ishida is a New York-based vocalist and composer specializing in Jazz. Originally from Japan, Aya moved to NYC in 2013 to pursue a B.F.A in Jazz Vocal Performance. She developed her sound and style by studying with Steve Wilson and Carolyn Leonhart.

In 2017, Aya graduated from The City College of New York under the Kaye Scholarship with Degree Honors Magna Cum Laude. Her 2018 debut album, Day by Day, was produced by the Grammy award-winning saxophonist Wayne Escoffery. Day by Day is a culmination of Aya’s experience as an artist and reflects the pursuit of her dreams in NYC. Alongside her original compositions, it also includes her favorite jazz standards with her own arrangements. Soon after her album was released, Aya returned to Tokyo to continue composing and performing Jazz for audiences throughout Asia. In 2019, Aya completed tours in Japan, Taiwan, and Paris. She moved back to NYC in October 2019 and now performs regularly with a diverse group of musicians.

When was that first “Oh shit I can sing”, discovering moment for you; When you realized you were gifted with an amazing voice?

“I actually didn’t have a moment of “Oh shit I can sing” lol. However, I always knew that singing was my passion and that I would dedicate 100% of myself to it. That’s why I kept practicing and always giving my best. I probably started singing, around the age of 4. However, I can’t say I was very good back then lol.”

You moved to New York to pursue your B.F.A in Jazz Vocal Performance, is there any reasoning on why you picked the state New York and the college CCNY?

“I always enjoyed the jazz scene/style in NYC and love that you can see amazing musicians perform pretty much everyday! I think CUNY colleges are affordable and CCNY has a great jazz program. I’m really glad I went to CCNY:)”

It’s been nearly 4 years since your Day by Day album (which I loved by the way, especially “Darn That Dream”, “Day by Day”, and “The Petal”), what were the inspiration and creative processes for each song and collectively as a whole the album?

“Thank you so much for listening to my album!! I really appreciate it. It was my first album and I wanted to put together my favorite jazz standards with my own arrangements. I also had ideas for a few original songs to record. For the standards, I analyze the lyrics of the songs and my arrangements capture my interpretation of them. My original songs are special to me and serve as great reminders to keep pursuing music and moving forward when things are tough. That is also a theme in my original lyrics.”

During the years from which you started till now, if you were given the chance to completely start over again from day one, what would’ve you done differently?

Interesting question! I would spend more time practicing basic but important skills such as ear training, sight singing and playing piano. I think I was rushing a little bit to learn difficult songs and solos when I first started out. Also, less movie time and more practice!! Lol”