Wiyaala is one of the lead vocalists in GRRRL, a revolutionary electronic music collective, made up women from places of conflict or disadvantaged communities around the world.
Also known as ‘The Young Lioness of Africa’, Wiyaala  is an AfroPop singer-songwriter from Funsi, Upper West Ghana. Her powerful voice and bold image fuses the pop sounds of David Foster with the modern funk and flair of Janelle Monae. Wiyaala sings in her native Sissala and Waale dialects and English, often combining all three languages within her songs.
Wiyaala is also associated with UNICEF Ghana and the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection of Ghana in campaigns against child marriage, child poverty, health and sanitation.
We caught up with her to chat about activism through music, what it’s like to be in a band whose members are based all around the globe, writing songs remotely, and all things KIN.

Don’t miss Wiyaala & GRRRL on Saturday night at KIN. Tickets are on sale now and available HERE.

How does song-writing process work with band members spread out across continents?

When we are not together (which is quite a lot!), our music director and producer Laima Leyton (from Mixhell/Soulwax) will send us a beat and we are asked to contribute vocal ideas and sounds to it. For my part, I respond intuitively to what she sends with scraps of ideas or sounds knowing that the she will mash up our respective contributions. Then when we come together we work on and refine the ideas into a whole. These sessions can get quite fiery since we are all very opinionated! 

Between you, there is a  vast range of cultural influences – how do you weave them together, when writing?

It’s an eclectic fusion of sound and language powered by Laima’s exploration of underground beats. Fusion is as old as music itself and our project is a contemporary reflection of a more connected world despite the efforts of so many people bent on disconnecting it! The common thread is music woven to create an intercontinental sound and story that people want to hear. 

You are all activists and use your music as a form of activism. How does that work and have you seen any positive impacts from this? 

This works on several levels. In Place Of War, a charity, created GRRRL to bring a message to a wider world. We are from places of conflict or disadvantaged communities in far flung countries. If you can’t make a positive impact, you can’t be a member of GRRRL. On tour we are invited to speak out at festivals and in the media. This helps to create an awareness that there is only one planet and we have no choice but to cherish one another and our planet no matter how diverse our backgrounds. As individuals in our own countries we have to do positive things as role models. Lei Di Dai in Brazil has created a musical culture movement in the favelas. AWA fights for women rights in Zimbabwe. I campaign against child marriage in Ghana. GRRRL helps make our voices more influential. 

What is the future of activism?

Activism is heading in the opposite direction to leaders who seek to promote division. For every negative move, we should try to respond with peaceful dissent. If we fail to actively promote the collective interest across the world, we are sowing the seeds of our own destruction. Talking is not enough. As they say in my village, “Talking won’t buy a horse”.

If you could choose a single simple action that KIN audience can do, to make the world a kinder place – what would it be?

Everyday, even if it’s just once, let’s remind ourselves to speak kindly to someone who might be feeling down. Acknowledgment is the first step to positive action.

Who are you most looking forward to seeing on the KIN line-up?

There are so many interesting things going on! I would love to be at the Rife Magazine’s networking event for young creatives on Thursday. A blind date with a creative purpose! I’m also attracted to Chidera Eggerue’s “Slumflower” on Friday, with it’s theme of a rose growing out of concrete. On Saturday, Gwyneth Herbert’s Letters Project will be great for anyone interested in the creative musical process. On Sunday, I want to see Ruth Daniel’s “The Art of making something from nothing”. In some way, we can all do that!  

Thanks, Wiyaala!

Check out GRRRL’s latest music video below – and catch them at KIN on Saturday night!