It’s not everyday you see a musical duo with two studs, but Twynn is here to pave the way for all LGBTQ recording artists that they too can turn their dreams into a reality. Not only that, but one member of the group, Ayanna Ife, is blind, suffering from Leber’s congenital amaurosis. That doesn’t stop her from making music though, and her social following on TikTok quickly doubled within four months — thanks to the virality of “HOETALE.”
Shardae DéVine is the other member, who’s known Ayanna since they were kids. Both are Philadelphia natives, and their moms were poppin’ hairstylists in the city. They fondly remember being dragged to all the house parties growing up, but it wasn’t until recently when Ayanna asked Shardae for a shape up, and Shardae in turn asked for a song, that the girls realized they were the next dynamic duo.
The making of “HOETALE” is a story in itself, going through three different versions until they finally got it right. The TikTok of their first video of the record currently hails over 8 million views and counting.
Ayanna explains, “We ended up going to MilkBoy, which is the most acknowledged studio in Philly right now. That’s where everyone goes, and that’s the one we ended up using. After we made ‘HOETALE’, we’re like yo, we really do some twin type times. Especially when it comes to how we be vibing with the girls. We’re both studs, we both love to party. We have a good time.”
The first thing Shardae said to Ayanna after the shape up was, “I want to do a freaky girl song.” And the rest was history. Twynn’s whole catalog is full of summertime freaky girl songs, and they love it.
SHEEN spoke with Ayanna and Shardae in downtown Los Angeles, to discuss their name, making their parents proud, “HOETALE,” gaining popularity, goals, and more!
What’s the significance in the name Twynn?
Shardae: Well, it’s no specific reason other than that’s what they had available. We were gonna go with Twin, but a lot of people were using it. But she’s the one who originally came up with the name Twynn.
Ayanna: I’m like, you really be my twin when we be on these records. You really are, so we recreated that hot girl status that our moms had when we were kids. We recreated that in a different way, then it just took over the world.
How proud are they?
Shardae: They’re super excited.
Ayanna: And they’re nervous for us. Oh God, what are these two getting themselves into? We flew across the country, because we’re from Philly.
What did they think of the song?
Ayanna: My sister had the audacity to show my grandma. I had one rule, I said I do not want my grandma to hear this song. I did not want to show Ms. Rosyln this. My grandma called, she said “We’re at dinner, tell Ayanna to send the video of your rap song!” At dinner, like a family reunion. My grandma’s like “you know, that’s what they’re saying on the internet. The gays are running in the summer.”
Shardae: My grandma, she gon’ call me and give me some bars to put on the song.
Ayanna: Tell her the text message.
Shardae: I wish I could pull it out right now. She said something along the lines like “I’ma teabag them until he comes outside.” [laughs]
Ayanna: If my grandma would text me that, I would cry. You saying nasty stuff to me, I don’t like that. Why would you tell it to your grandchild? Our grandmoms is lit, I’m trying to tell y’all. I asked my grandma, you gon’ come watch our video shoot? She said, “I want to get on there and hop on the pole.”
Shardae: They tryna get it on it.
Best memory from the video shoot?
Shardae: Probably the drinking involved. It was a vibe. We weren’t about it being a video shoot, we were having a good time. Everybody in the video, we knew them. It was all of our friends getting together, had two random girls there but that was it. Everybody else we knew. It was a little party, a good time.
How’d you guys get connected with Dimitri Hurt (manager)?
Shardae: Rico Taylor hit us up. One day, he said “hey, I want to reach out to you guys. I might have some potential connects.” The next day, we were talking to Dimitri.
Ayanna: Dimitri’s like, “When are you ready? We’re ready to get this thing moving.” [snaps] And I couldn’t believe it. My mind’s like, this is another one of those things where I get all excited it. This is a freaking dream. I’m sitting here with you, we’ve been doing interviews. This is insane. Pitchfork wrote an article about us. What is happening right now?
Ayanna, you are a massage therapist. Are you still massaging?
Ayanna: I had a work injury, so I’m on sabbatical.
Shardae: Work leave! [laughs]
Ayanna: I was massaging this woman. I was trying to make sure I gave her the pressure she wanted, my jawn [shoulder] popped right out. She’s like, “you can stop!” I’m like, it’s okay. I can keep going, it popped back in. They pay me $20 an hour. I’m desperate, I be needing that damn money. I’m ready to quit this day job. If I were to do massaging, I’d do it on my own. As a side project.
You can charge your own rate girl.
Ayanna: I know that’s right.
Talk about getting stopped everywhere, I saw the videos!
Ayanna: Oh my God, can I tell you the wildest one ever? I’m trying to leave work. The good thing about my job, my 9 to 5, it’s an area with a certain demographic. It’s downtown, these are wealthy people in their mid 30’s, 40’s. Lawyers, doctors, a lot of white collar people. No one’s gonna know who I am. I’m never worried about someone ever noticing me here.
I’m heading out for the night, woohoo finally. I come into the lobby to walk out the door, I can always tell when it’s about to happen. I can tell, there’s this weird hesitation. I’m walking out, I can hear her stop doing what she was doing. She’s like, “oh my God!” I’m trying to start backing away slowly. She’s like “it’s you! It’s you from TikTok, oh my God!” I’m trying to back away more, she’s running toward me. She throws her arms around me. My coworkers come out: “hey, what’s going on out here? Is everything okay? Is this your client? What’d you do to her?” I’m like no, no, no, she knows me from somewhere.
They don’t know you’re poppin’?!
Shardae: Well they know now. At first, they didn’t.
Ayanna: I hope no one’s told my boss. She threw her arms around me. My co-workers were like whoa, you’re famous? Why didn’t you tell us?” I’m like, ‘cause I just wanna work. That was one of the craziest ones. It happens a lot at the mall, God forbid we go to the mall. Every Wawa, it’s a convenient store/sandwich shop where you purchase hoagies. Do you know what a hoagie is?
Is that a sandwich?
Ayanna: It’s a cold sandwich. Every Wawa, there’s a lot of young kids working there every time. “Oh my God!” Every time I go into the Wawa, it’s insane. Walking down the street. We tried to go to the vape store the other day, right before we left. The kids were screaming, they stared at us. This girl drove off, spun the block, came back, hopped out the car. Her and her friend chased me down for a picture. It’s getting quite insane.
My poor sister, she’s in ninth grade. She’s like, “they keep thinking I’m making up that you’re my sister. They want to know how I was at the video shoot. Did I steal pictures? I keep telling them, they’re like ‘show proof! Now!’ I wish they didn’t know at this point, because everyone knows me as Ayanna Ife’s sister.”
Shardae: That’s lit.
Ayanna: Yeah, I think it made her a little popular.
What can we expect next?
Ayanna: Oh my god. When I tell you, we have some chantable anthems. We got anthems. Have you ever heard any of our other music, or just “HOETALE”? You got some catching up to do. We have another record out called “City Studs, you gotta check it out. The ones we’re dropping after that, I want you to be prepared for a vibe. Be prepared for a party vibe. We’re like Kid ‘n Play, but in the 21st century.
Shardae: [laughs] Yeah!
Any new goals for yourselves?
Shardae: Oh yeah, definitely. Me personally, I don’t want to do music forever. I love it, this is definitely unexpected. But for me, I want to take care of everybody. Making sure everybody’s good. I’m about security, happiness, safety, all those things. I’m just here for the ride. Life, I just want to live it. To be honest.
Ayanna: I’ve always wanted to do music and I’m really good at it, so I want to get into songwriting. People always hit me up like “hey, are you willing to write a song for me? Can you write a song for me?” So it could happen, I could become a songwriter. I have artists that I want to work with. I’d give one and a half of my kidneys to work with Frank Ocean.
He’s like the only artist that’s unreachable.
Ayanna: Unreachable. That’s my highest goal, to work with him. TikTok wants me to get into comedy really bad. They’re always like “get into comedy!” I could go out to LA and grind it out. This is right before “HOETALE” jumped off. I want to get into acting and script writing. I’m an entertainer at heart.
You got jokes or what?
Ayanna: I be serious, and people think my anger is humorous. You should watch the TikTok videos, they’re fun. Apparently, they’re funny. I have this one that went viral. Vox did an article inspired by this one. I’m like: “I don’t have goals. I don’t have ambition. I only want to be attractive, I just want to be sexy. Fuck everything!” I was drunk. For some reason, women ran it up. “I don’t have goals,” it went crazy! I want to continue doing this. I would do talk shows.
Anything else you guys want to let us know?
Ayanna: The Twynns are in the city right now. Please look out for our new music, you guys are going to love it. It’s super fun. It’s just a good time.
Shardae: We’re here for a long time too.
Ayanna: And we need a good time, especially times like this. You can count on Twynn to always bring some joy back into the universe.
Shardae: Not just with the music too, with everything. Just expect to see us everywhere.