"My biggest discovery on my spiritual journey has been that I am the answer. I spent a lot of my life looking for affirmation from other folks and their approval. But I've learned that I have everything I need inside of me. And that with the support of my community of loved ones I'm empowered." - Zyah Belle
A rising star in the music industry, Zyah Belle is an artist who knows her worth. Achieving success through her dedication to her craft and her willingness to work hard. She has grind vigorously to get to where she is and has collaborated with some of the most celebrated icons in history. Belle is an artist who is not afraid to be her own person and to speak her own mind. When you know yourself, nothing can stop you. With Belle, this is especially true.
From co-writing and collaborating with Snoop Dogg on “Trouble,” featuring on Terrace Martin’s “Never Saw It Coming” alongside fellow rapper Problem and appearing on multiple Too $hort’ tracks like “I Stay Up” and “Get Top", to recording and performing with Kanye West’s Sunday Service Choir, Belle has proven the lengths of her talents. She’s also grown into an uncompromising and undeniable solo artist in her own right with the release of her full-length debut LP "Yam Grier". The concept of the album tells the story of a woman who is reclaiming her time, agency, and voice. Yam Grier is inspired by Pam Grier's iconic roles in blaxploitation films of the 1970s. Belle says that Yam Grier is the embodiment of a woman who has finally come into her own. The album has been praised by critics and fans alike for its powerful lyrics, catchy melodies, and Belle's incredible vocal performance.
"Yam Grier is representative of a woman that is reclaiming her time, agency over her body and voice through the generations. Inspired by Pam Grier’s fierceness that she emoted in her prominent 70s blaxploitation roles. Yam Grier is the embodiment of a woman who has finally come into her own, unapologetically.”
Zyah Belle photographed by Sarah Eichenbaum Dress by Rouhi
for ISSUE 13
It's clear from listening to your LP that you are in a complete and freeing space in your life. Your sound has elevated and poised with confidence. Through the recording process, how did "Yam Grier" help further your growth as an artist?
During the recording process my friends, collaborators and executive producers PBnJ truly helped me grow. My engineer Benjamin Greenspan always reassured me while always pushing for excellence in each take.
Spiritual Bath' is a total rebirth an emergence of something new, through your own spiritual journey what has been your biggest self discovery?
My biggest discovery on my spiritual journey has been that I am the answer. I spent alot of life looking for affirmation in other folks and their approvals. But ive learned that I have everything I need inside of me. And that with the support of my community of loved ones i'm empowered.
What song from LP did you enjoy recording the most?
Probably “Holding on/Goofy”. Goofy was originally a bridge and we turned it into a song. It was magical during the process.
You looked like you had so much fun shooting the 'DND' video, 'Holding on' has quickly become an album favorite, will there be another video dropping soon?
I would love that! But I'm not sure if anymore visuals are on the way.
Can we expect more dance tracks in the future?
You've done a number of hip-hop songs and features, tapping more into your R&B bag now are there any soulful artists you looking forward to collaborating with in the near future?
There are many artist I would love to collaborate with. I have my manifestation list. And I have a few collaborations on the way, but I guess we will just have to see what comes of it.
Yam Grier carries a timeless sound. What artist do you find timeless?
Being a songwriter is no easy feat, how do you approach songwriting, and when you're experiencing a creative block what helps you to get back in the zone?
I approach songwriting by honoring how I feel in the moment. Sometimes I freestyle, sometimes I have a topic in mind. And when I have a creative block I just live. I stop in that moment and I decide to not force it. Ill come back to it later.
If someone asked you to give them a random piece of advice on songwriting, what would you say?
Dont force it.
Authenticity is important, we've seen how social media can have a profound impact on heightening our insecurities, however, you've found your voice through the noise. What were some of the challenges and how did you overcome them?
Absolutely there were challenges. There still are. The challenge of self doubt or allowing other people's opinions to affect me. The challenge of comparison. But I choose to live for myself and not other people.
How would you describe social media, with one word or phrase?
Connect with Zyah Belle
Stream and Purchase Yam Grier
Beyond the titles that others have given you, who are you?
I am a daughter, I am an aunt, a friend, a lover. I am a soft, strong, fragile and resilient black woman.
Let's talk "Yam Grier", can you take us back to those social media days when you first started using the name, and what was the significance of titling your LP after that persona?
The name “Yam Grier” was given to me as a witty nickname. I just thought it sounded cool and it stuck with me. The significance of naming my LP after this persona was attached to what the name meant to me. It embodied the unapologetic confidence I was stepping into as a woman.
On 'Healing' you say "healing is pain, healing is power, healing is ugly, healing is sour, healing is lonely... it hurts when you're healing" it sounds like you speaking from a place of experience, what advice would give someone going thru the healing process?
Those beautiful lyrics were written by Jane Handcock. And I resonated with it so deeply because pain is transformative. I've known pain my entire life, and because of that the advice I would give someone is to be graceful with yourself. Don't rush your healing. Its okay to cry and feel all of the things.
Your album has a couple of up-tempo dance tracks like 'Holding On' and 'DND', a different pace from your past projects, what was it like recording those tracks, did you approach them differently than other tracks on the album?
It felt freeing and fun to record those songs. I did approach writing these songs in the sense that I didn't judge my process while in the studio. I just let ideas and lyrics flow.