World Music Maestro Aya Safiya Makes Her Pop Debut

by Madeline Wells on September 11, 2018


With her new EP, the East Bay-bred singer-songwriter doesn't completely leave her roots behind.

Aya Safiya is a traditional Greek musician perched on the cusp of something new. She's a violinist and vocalist trained in North African, flamenco, Balkan, Greek, and Turkish techniques, but if you ask her, you won't find any evidence of her world music background on her self-titled debut EP. That's because for the first time, Safiya is making pop music.

"I've always wanted to do pop and rock because that's what I grew up with," she said. She recalls a cassette tape by The Beatles being the first thing she ever chose to listen to when she was 7 years old. In her new EP, it's not too difficult to pick out the mainstream influences she cites: the eerie melodies of Feist, the powerful choruses of Hozier, the deft lyricism of Lauryn Hill, the folksy harmonies of Gillian Welch. But in between the lines, some of her training in world music lingers…

Premiere: “What Do You Do” by Aya Safiya

by Jessie Shiewe on May 8, 2017


This rollicking, folk-rock ditty is filled with lush instrumentals and soothing vocals.

Most people have had crushes in their lives. (I know I certainly have.) And sometimes, those crushes can be problematic, say, if the dude in question is your best friend’s boyfriend or if the girl you like is your sister’s friend.

In Aya Safiya‘s debut single, “What Do You Do,” she tackles this problem, cooing in the song’s chorus, “What do you do / When you love someone, you’re not supposed to?”

Her answer — especially if you’re mooning over someone you really can’t tell anyone about — is to “shout it out to the world in a song.”

The lush, dreamy folk-rock number also showcases Aya Safiya’s extensive musical background.

An early fan of the Beatles, Aya Safiya began studying traditional Greek, Balkan, Turkish, and Romani music at the age of 7…