AYCE STACIO: the Legendary, Revolutionary, Infinite, Ever-Shinning. A man of many adjectives, and a bright sense of purpose. Seated across from me in a dark corner of a restaurant in Joburg’s east, Ayce agrees when I comment on his animated individuality. That said, he hates the spotlight and insisted we chill in a very secluded area. This may also be the first time I never saw him showing off the ink on his body. When asked why he explains how having a baby girl (who is 2 months old now, CONGRATULATIONS FROM TEAM USA) has changed him. He sees himself as a very responsible man and also explained how his music has taken a switch as he now cant even use the word B***h in his lyrics anymore.
I have known Ayce for years, so doing an interview with him was strange. For every question I asked I knew the start of the answer – so it was a great opportunity to dig deep and unearth some of those secrets he’s been keeping on the down low. I figured it was a great chance to find out all the things that puzzled me about him, or rather things I have always been curious about regarding his persona.
I started with why he has so much ink and why it never seems to stop. His response was exactly what I was looking for in my search for a deeper understanding of the man. “I have never been afraid of needles though that is not why I would say I have so much ink. Fact of the matter is that I now believe it was destiny for me to look this way. I remember from long ago, even til now when I even go to church, people are always staring at my ink game but I am never uncomfortable. This made me realise that its deep in me, the other reason was when I learnt what my nickname from birth actually means. I am called TATO, and this means Tattoo in English actually, so looking back you can just tell that it was destined to be.” He also spoke of how he used to watch documentaries about inmates and whenever his mother was around he would criticise the inked inmates, and she would say that she knows he actually likes it. Seems that Ayce actually may have been destined to have these tattoos after all.
As a music fanatic, there’s no genre or artist Ayce is not a fan of. He says music is a huge coping mechanism for him as it has the ability to deal with his emotions. One issue he sees with the industry at the moment is that there are certain musicians doing music for the wrong reasons, and who clash with real artists (such as himself), causing beef. “I know how to handle guys like these and have done it before”, he elaborates. When asked what this means, he just says he was gang related before and now he just wants to leave all that behind him and focus on his family and doing the one thing he knows how to do best, which is making music.
So we decided to speak about exactly that. When asked what he’s working on, he says he is making a lot of new material, and promises to give us an exclusive on his new work! He also let us know how blessed he has been to work with many talented producers and image consultants to get him as far as he has. This was evident from his previous MixTape Paid In Full, which saw him get the long anticipated buzz we have all been waiting. In explaining what Paid In Full actually means, Ayce delves deeper and explains that most people think he means he was paid in full. Where the reality is that he believes he has paid the price for success in full.
The hit single Zaka saw Ayce feature on Channel O, Trace and MTV amongst other global media outlets. “That was just the beginning” Ayce remarks, “wait till you hear my new material”. Ayce is very confident he will always have something new for his fans as he moves on from his own sound quickly – once something has dropped it is very hard for him to keep listening and dwelling on. When asked what he thinks of our new platform, his comments warmed my heart; he could see how the platform is a good opportunity for artists to get exposure as well ass a great way to give back to the community in the form of advancing those artists that fail to make it to traditional radio. We at USA Radio can’t wait for his next drop.
Catch Ayce on social media
Like the simple joy of a raspberry lollipop on a relaxed Joburg afternoon, the promo song “Wayward son” sets the uplifting tone of Blue Lit Sky’s upcoming debut album. Yet to be named, the band is hoping the album will bring together the decade or so of experience band members have to bear on a fresh new sound in South Africa’s indie-rock scene.
The four guys met originally at church, and decided to create something different from their previous bands – from the successful Joburg heavy metal band, Knave, and the moodier rock band Earl Grey and Croquet – Blue Lit Sky is about tapping your feet. Speaking on how the band came together, lead singer Chris Steenkamp says the four members starting working on some of his lyrics early last year, and over time the sound “got a snowball going, and we’re rolling with that, trying to keep the snowball going”.
The band is your classic indie rock set-up: Chris is the songwriter, lead guitarist, and vocalist; the other Chris (Smith) rocking out the second guitar, Mikey is busy on bass and the lovely Liam keeps the feet tapping on drums. Having been in unsigned bands previously, the guys know what the hustle is about. They understand the power of networks, of finding and exploiting those people who can get you some exposure, like those in radio, in magazines and social media. For them, part of this is also supporting the industry as whole; supporting friends’ bands and encouraging friends to pay at the door!
Blue Lit Sky is the idea of freedom – something that permeates the contours of the band’s songs. The guys talk about how they want their listeners to feel wrapped in a comforting sound, “something that covers everybody in a blanket of awesomeness”. For Chris, the songs are his way to try to pick people up when they’re down, to inspire them. They like to talk about the unseen things in way they tell their stories.
When speaking on the South African indie-rock scene, the band recounts stories of fun, of some shenanigans (what’s a live show without some questionable props), and of a lot of support. The indie rock scene in Johannesburg is particularly close-knit in its smallness, but with a strong international outlook. A lack of live music venues this side of the karoo has meant a lot of bands play themselves out on small, weeknight gigs, hoping Sony will find them. Their idea however, is take their brand and their image seriously, and put out quality music on multiple platforms (though funnily enough, not on CDs), and to bring their professionalism to their performances and products. The band is working on their next single, which should be released later next month, and once they have some song online, will be launching themselves head-first into the weekend gig and festival scenes.
Expect to see a lot of these guys in 2018 – and have your soda and lollipops ready.