“Loving me is like running through a maze” Emma Have (pronounced “eyes”) sings on the opening of the title track of her debut EP Animus. But the singer-songwriter navigates this labyrinth is nevertheless guided by the desire to find a way to be more comfortable in her own skin. On Animusthis journey inwards (with detours through Jungian psychology) is punctuated by the verdant folk-pop of Ayz.
She channels the awe-inspiring beauty of Ella Fitzgerald’s numbers on “Animus,” her tender voice slowly dances alongside a fading orchestral accompaniment. While on “Little in Love” she struggles with self-eviscerating heartache against the initially melancholic, but ultimately defiant growl of the guitars. Much like the maze Ayz sings about in its album opener, there’s an understanding throughout the album that sometimes the only way out of life’s toughest times is to walk right through them.
To face them and yourself lucidly – no compartmentalization or deep burial. That’s exactly what she does on “Judy”, its cavernous, lilting melodies provide ample space for Ayz to open up to some of the darkest moments: like the grief of a friend who has just lost his mother. Or “Bekah”, a song written to finally end his trans brother’s name before he changed it, as well as memories of his struggle with drug addiction.
In many ways, there’s no escaping the maze that Ayz likens to loving yourself. Something she discovered after dealing with personal life changes as well as bigger existential changes. It was after reading the feminist book Women who run with the wolves that Ayz discovered the Jungian concept from which she borrows the title of her album — a “masculine counterpart to femininity” — which allowed her, as a queer woman, to finally find a harmony in herself that did not rest on social and cultural archetypes. It was then that she realized that loving herself for the beautiful mess that she was would take continuous effort.
“I started to really work on myself. Now I have a crazy morning routine of meditation, moving my body and deep gratitude. At the same time, I started crying a lot of things that I kind of pushed me away. I guess I was mourning the person I used to be.
words of Steven Ward
Listen to Emma Ayz’s debut EP Animus below!