AYLA has been a regular touring artist since beginning her career in the mid-2010s. Along the way, the self-described sad girl pop artist from the Sunshine Coast has toured in support of Kim Churchill and Kate Miller-Heidke, appeared at Festival of the Sun and Woodford Folk Festival, and launched her own event, the Spring in the Vale music festival in rural Queensland.
AYLA’s latest single, ‘Bitterness’, came out at the end of August 2022. To mark the release of ‘Bitterness’, which was co-produced by Ball Park Music’s Sam Cromack, AYLA reflects on the highs and lows of life on the road.
AYLA Shares Her Most Memorable Tour Stories
Airbnb From Hell
My band and I were on tour and had a show in Melbourne at The Penny Black. We had accommodation booked, so hopped in the Uber to get settled. The Uber drove and drove and headed pretty far out of town into a quieter, industrial-looking area and pulled up in front of a building that looked like it was out of Breaking Bad.
We walked in and there was literally a used condom on the path, rubbish floating in the pool, a lady knocking on the door, and a puddle on one of the beds in the room. I was talking to my Mum on the phone when I saw some guys making a drug deal and was like, “Hmm, maybe we should not stay here…” Unfortunately there was nowhere else that we could book, so we played the show and slept the night at the Melbourne Airport.
Touring with Kim Churchill
Touring with Kim Churchill was one of my favourite musical experiences. We did shows all around Australia, including one in Hobart and one in Launceston. We drove between the two and it was some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen.
We were in a van with Kim, sound, lighting, tech, tour manager, support, support manager and me – and I was the only girl. There was a long stretch of open fields where the boys had no trouble popping out for a wee, but I was busting.
Playing Woodford Folk Festival 2016
Woodford Folk Festival 2016 was one of the best shows I’ve ever played. There was a great audience who were so engaged and so many beautiful people came up to me after the shows to talk and show their appreciation. I also met heaps of “little Aylas” who wanted to come and say hi.
I was so very thankful that we could play those shows, because I had lost my voice the week before and was so worried I wouldn’t be able to sing. I played the set and then went straight home to rest and then came back the next day and the band and I got through it and had one of our best experiences playing live.
Touring with Kate Miller-Heidke
Kate Miller-Heidke’s partner Keir Nuttall was in the crowd at Woodford and after watching the show, he recommended me as the support for Kate’s national tour. So, when I was 20, I got to tour with one of my favourite artists, who I would listen to on repeat all through high school senior years.
We were playing some shows in regional Melbourne and sitting in the green room of a show at a small church in a small town. Kate was eight months pregnant, and as we sat in the fluorescent-lit room at about 6pm eating and drinking the fruit, veg and soda water that was on the rider, Kate Miller-Heidke said to me, “Ayla, this is the least rock and roll tour you’ll ever go on.”
2019 Regional Tour
In 2019, I played a regional tour around the single ‘Small Talk’. This was a self-booked tour where I played intimate solo shows and my mum came along to keep me company. We hired a rental car and drove about three and a half hours out of Melbourne to a town in Victoria called Birchip, where a beautiful family put us up and organised a show at a breathtaking old church down the road. While we were there, we drove over to the next town and visited a salt lake that was the most beautiful pastel pink.
My Mum lives in Agnes Water, another regional town, and I also played a show there on that tour. It was an impromptu setup on the Marina at the most beautiful place to watch the sun setting over the water. I couldn’t believe that about 300 people showed up to this tiny Marina in a small town to watch the show.
The people of Agnes Water have been so supportive, and this show actually prompted me to begin running my own show in Agnes Water, where I’ve been running Spring in the Vale Music Festival on my parents’ property since 2019.