"If you don't accept yourself for who you are, who will?": Belgian singer-songwriter WAYI

WAYI expresses her struggles, quests for self-discovery and comes out of a heartbreak, through her empowering songs

                            "If you don't accept yourself for who you are, who will?": Belgian singer-songwriter WAYI

Already on the radar of Belgian rappers (TheColorGrey, K1D), WAYI is a 25-year-old soul/RnB singer-songwriter who launched her solo career earlier this year with the debut single 'The Way I Am'. With over 100K streams, the empowering song not only garnered great interest from Elton John in his 'Rocket Hour' show on Beats 1, but also much praise from major publications like Highsnobiety, DJBooth, ELLE France, and Red Bull Elektropedia.

With her new single 'Temporary', the Antwerp-based artist strips down and opens up about her jealousy in a bittersweet and languid ballad produced by James Lowland.

"Everyone must have had a broken heart once in a lifetime. After you 'heal' from it, you realize that life is too short; that there are actually worse things happening in the world and that you shouldn’t be crying over that person. Still... at times, you find yourself struggling between letting go and being jealous that he has moved on with someone else," she confesses about the composition, which blends her silky vocals with swaying rhythms.


In a conversation with Meaww, WAYI speaks about her journey and why she is "the way [she is]".

Could you tell us a little about your experience working on your debut single 'The Way I am'?

Writing 'The Way I Am' went fluently, without any pressure. I simply wrote what I read in my diary a few weeks earlier. The feeling came back so strong that I felt inspired. While working on it in the studio, I found it hard to find the right sound to the song but James Lowland, my producer at my record label 'Weird !s Good', helped me with it. When the song was done, I felt excited and nervous at the same time because it was the first song I ever released.

As your song 'The Way I Am' suggests, the theme of self-acceptance seems to be a running thread. What is your personal connection with the theme?

As you go through different experiences in life, it’s important to self-reflect, to know what you like and don’t like. Accept yourself first so that when you meet someone and start a relationship, for instance, you won’t fall for anything. If you don’t accept yourself for who you are, then who will?


What inspired you to write 'Temporary'?

My life! I was in love, then we broke up, the guy hooked up with someone else, I felt heartbroken and jealous. Writing the song was like self-therapy for me. The verses explain my jealousy and the chorus is where this therapy starts working... I realize that nothing is forever and I should move on.

How has the journey been between your first and second single? 

Receiving lots of love from 'The Way I Am', I felt motivated to work even harder on the second single. I did notice that I was less nervous with the second single though!

You have an interesting name. What does WAYI mean? How did you come about choosing it?

Thank you! WAYI is actually part of my family name. I used to have the name Mae Rose (Mae because I love the name Maeva and my birthday month is May + Rose, my mom’s name) but it just didn’t feel like me as an artist. I kept looking for names for a long time and one day I was reading quotes and saw “A man travels the world over in search of what he needs, and returns home to find it”. So I realized I shouldn’t look too far. My family means a lot to me so being called WAYI definitely felt right!


What do you appreciate the most about being an artist? Who are your inspirations when it comes to the music scene (both in Belgium and outside)? 

Expressing myself is much easier when writing and singing. It feels safer to me. Many artists inspire me. To name a few: Sia, Kanye, Belgian artist Stromae, Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, Anderson Paak…

How does it feel being recognized and appreciated by the veteran Elton John?

It feels great, Elton John is a legend! And for him to play my song on his radio show on Beats1… insane!

Tell us the experience of collaborating with TheColorGrey and K1D? 

The story is basically the same as K1D and TheColorGrey: we have mutual friends. So one day, I came into the studio, we started talking and immediately felt like recording something on the spot, so we did.


What are your expectations from your debut EP?

My upcoming EP is called 'Love In Progress'. My love life is progressing but so is my music (which I also see as love). My debut EP is more experimental and creative. Every song went well actually when it came to the production process, but one of the tracks was a bit more difficult and we had to work a lot longer to find the right vibe. My expectations for this EP? I’m just letting it happen and see where it gets.

Where was it recorded? Will the existing singles feature on it?

My songs were all recorded in Woodpecker Studio in Belgium. James Lowland produced all the tracks on the 'Love in Progress' EP and the two existing singles will definitely feature in it, along with some new songs that I’m also performing at live shows.

 So what are you planning next? Are there any collaborations or shows coming up?

I’m planning on writing more songs! Besides that, I’m working on the live scene as there will be more live shows in the future. And when it comes to collaborating, I do have a few names in mind but it’s not sure yet. So stay tuned and you can always follow me on my social media to know what I’m up to (@itswayi, both on Instagram and FB)!