The Border City – 4Twnty

Aya and Shay, 4Twnty

Windsor has always been known as a hub for young talented artists – many of which have been highlighted in this special edition of XMPL. Our first feature is Aya and Shay also known as the R&B duo 4Twnty – who found themselves having quite a busy year.

Early February, the pair dropped their anticipated EP ‘Bittersweet,’ working alongside producer TNB Beatz. The two also collaborated with Detroit-based rapper Baby Shae on their track ‘One Up’ featured on Bittersweet. The release was followed with their EP Listening party, where 4Twnty was joined by friends and fans all vibing to their new sound, later have a hype time at their after party. 

As the year progressed, Aya and Shay also performed for shows such Afrofest in Toronto and The Showcase Tour,  which lead them to performing again in Los Angeles, further expanding their sound to audiences at a larger scale. The duo also made several single releases this year, working with rising producer 180 DAZZ for tracks such as ‘CGI,’ ‘Used’ and their latest infectious single ‘Incognito.’ 

With all their progress and challenges over the year, 4Twnty have shown that they’re ready to enter the new decade with full force, as the two have hinted at new music in the coming year. We had the chance to talk to 4Twnty about their music, performances and what we can expect in the coming year. Read the full exclusive interview with 4Twnty below:

From all the music you’ve released this year, which song would you say was the most significant to you and why?

I’d say the song ‘Used’ was the most significant to me because it relates to a time in my life this year that I was actually going through. It’s weird because we had actually written used for Bittersweet last year from someone else’s experience but it didn’t make the project. So, actually coming back around to it this year I was able to feel my lyrics in a different way and we knew right away that we’d have to release it as a single. I feel like its a extended part of Bittersweet now with a more mature sound. 

You’ve had quite a few shows this year, which performance would you say was a standout experience?

The Showcase Tour audition was definitely a standout performance experience. We auditioned for it in Toronto and got to connect with so many people that we’ll hopefully get to collaborate with and see soon. That lead to our trip to LA, where we got to perform and compete amongst so many talented people from all over the world just made it an even better experience.

At the beginning of the year you dropped your first EP “Bittersweet.” How was the overall reception from this project?

The overall reception was good for the EP, we had a few articles written about us to our surprise and over 200 people showed up to our release party which we were so grateful for! I think we were just playing with our sound at that point and ended up coming up with a small concept for the EP. In the process, we somewhat found our sound but we’ve been refining our quality and concepts since then.

You’ve been collaborating with music producer 180 DAZZ, and dropped two single over the fall “Incognito” and “Used.” Tell us a bit about the process making these tracks

We love working with Dazz because he really gets our sound and what we’re going for, even when we had no idea how to put it into words. So we’ve been into themes lately, and wanted to drop a single that we’ve had in our stash for a while (Used) and then also a Halloween-themed song. He played this dark beat for us one day in the studio and we just immediately knew it had to be about getting revenge and before we knew it we had the whole idea for the song planned out and ready to drop for Halloween.

Looking back at this year, what would you say was a great learning experience?

We auditioned for Afrofest earlier on this year. One of they key advices we held on to was by one of the coordinators of the event who told us that the minute our microphone turns on, we must perform as if the president of our dream label is sitting in front of us, ready to sign somebody. That helps us to this day with performing. We’ve learned the importance of leaving an impression on our audience this year more than anything instead of simply singing our songs and leaving the stage.

With the new year headed our way, do you have anything in store for this coming year?

We aim to work on our visuals and improve our sound this year. We want people to get to know us on a more personal level through our music and videos. We dont want to reveal things too prematurely, but just be on the lookout for more than expected!

Photos by: Marvin Calderon

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