Next Wave #1167: Aby Coulibaly

In association with Bed Head for Issue 127 of CLASH...

“I feel like I haven’t wrapped my head around it yet, it’s surreal!” 24-year-old Irish singer-songwriter Aby Coulibaly grins from ear to ear as she awaits her flight back to Dublin. The previous day, she’d received the biggest news of her career. “I’m supporting Coldplay in Croke Park,” she shares. “I grew up listening to Coldplay; My mam loves Chris Martin, I love Chris Martin. It’s going to be amazing!”

The news comes a year after one of the most turbulent periods of Coulibaly’s life, when the unexpected death of her father left her reeling, uncertain of where to turn next. “I came home from Senegal after his death and I dealt with grief by going ham with music,” she reflects. “I didn’t try to process what had happened, I just said yes to everything. I didn’t want to write a sad song in the studio, and I told myself I’d deal with the sadness next year. I was just avoiding having to deal with it, that was my coping mechanism. My goal for this year is to address what I didn’t last year; to delve into those feelings.”

It was only four years ago that Coulibaly began writing her own music. The youngest of three from Lucan, Dublin, she was invited to the studio after bumping into fellow riser Monjola at one of his club events in the city. After a few sessions observing and shadowing, Coulibaly began recording her own material. In 2020, she released debut single ‘Taurus’; an instant hit, it featured on blogs and radio playlists across Ireland within days of its release. Since then, Coulibaly has performed live on RTÉ’s flagship talk-show The Late Late Show, performed with the RTÉ National Concert Orchestra, and appeared at festivals on both sides of the Irish Sea.

After a string of standalone singles, Coulibaly released her debut EP ‘At The End Of The Day…It’s Night’ last October. The project’s core theme was about “relationships; be it romantic or platonic, how I thought of them and dealt with them in the past.” As well as taking on her first stadium show, Coulibaly was recently announced as the support act for BRIT-nominated singer Olivia Dean’s sold-out European tour. “I’m really looking forward to the London shows at the Apollo – I can’t wait!” Coulibaly beams. “It’s April and May, it’s springtime. I’ll be ready to defrost from the studio and on the road with new material.”

WHAT: Introspective R&B

WHERE: Dublin

3 SONGS: ‘Big Pharma (Withdrawal)’, ‘Weekdays’, ‘Taurus’

FACT: ‘Big Pharma’ is inspired by Coulibaly’s daily experience living with Topical Steroid Withdrawal

Words: Cailean Coffey

Photography: Bella Howard

Styling: Felicia Brown

Styling Assistant: Idyllyn Frimpong

Creative Direction: Rob Meyers

Sweater by Marni via mrporter.com; jewellery by SEOL + GOLD. Gilet by Hugo; t-shirt by Lee Jeans; jeans by True Religion; jewellery by SEOL + GOLD.

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