By Angelo de Klerk
I recently got the chance to interview Tyla, we spoke about everything that has to do with her upbringing, her music, and her plans for the future.
Angelo: It’s nice to have you here with us, Tyla.
Having been born and raised in Johannesburg, how would you say that this has influenced you as a musician or an artist, 19 years later?
Tyla: So, growing up in South Africa, I just fell in love with the culture, and fell in love with the music that we have here. South Africa is a very musical country. There are always people dancing, there is always a party happening somewhere. My family is very deep in South African culture and music. I grew up with a love for it. And it does influence me until this day because the music that I create and want to create, like Amapiano – a South African genre – the culture influences me and my brand because it’s who I am. I’m a South African girl.
Angelo: Ayt and I like the fact that you brought up family because I wanted to talk about that you know. I noticed that you and your younger sister have a YouTube channel. I don’t know if you have more siblings and if all of them are also artistic but talk to us about that a bit.
Tyla: Yeah I’m very close with my siblings, like we got even closer when it was Covid because we were stuck together for so long but I’m extremely close with my siblings. I’m a family girl. Sydney and I decided to make a whole YouTube channel because we are both on that type of tip. We’re on TikTok and YouTube and everything, so we thought “Let’s make a channel together”. And it was doing well like when we saw our first video reach 100k views we were like “Hai!”. But we stopped now, but yeah it was very exciting stuff. It’s things that we enjoy. My other siblings, there are 5 of us in total, and they’re not so much on that.
Angelo: That’s a pretty big family but that’s cool. And your TikTok account, I think you launched it in March 2020, which was kind of crazy for me realizing that that’s when Covid and lockdown really, really affected South Africa. Like, would you say that it was a bit of a coincidence, or would you at least say it contributed to the progress of your TikTok account?
Tyla: Probably lockdown because I mean everyone was on their phones, they were tryna find other ways to entertain themselves. So definitely, that really did bring a lot of attention to my social media. It was a big time, like, my social media skyrocketed during that time. Yeah, especially TikTok. TikTok did a lot.
Angelo: Yeah we know hey, [laughs] some of us have seen you on TikTok before. I see on TikTok you post things like singing, dancing, lip-syncing – you know, TikTok stuff. And that kinda shows me that you’re pretty well-rounded you know… you sing, you dance. What drew you to music specifically? And do you think we’ll be seeing the other forms of art from you soon?
Tyla: For me, it’s music, like, ever since I was young. My house was filled with music, I’m sure you know coloured households. Like we always listen to RnB blasting all the time, we always have family parties. Music was a huge part of my childhood and I grew up loving it and I grew up in a family that loves music and also sings, dances, and plays instruments. So, like my love for music started very young and especially because my parents would always put on like Michael Jackson concerts, Rihanna concerts, Ciara music videos, and I just loved it so much because I don’t know, I like those types of things. I like performing – I always did that for my family… I was the person to perform, they’d be like “Tyla come sing for the family!” You know? [laughs]
Angelo: [laughs] I get you, yeah –
Tyla: So basically, ever since I was young, music was a huge part of my life and I knew that it was what I wanted to do when I was older. And definitely! You will see a lot of different things in the future. I’m planning on making fusion music, so now I did the Amapiano/pop, I’m gonna do other genres as well. I’m not only sticking to this.
Angelo: Okay cool. I’m looking forward to that. Speaking about music, let’s talk about why we’re here… your single “Getting Late”. It’s incredible. It has crazy, crazy visuals but we’ll get into that in a bit. I just wanted to first ask you about the process of making the song. From how you thought about making that specific song, an Amapiano song, and then how you got to the final product and the feature.
Tyla: I knew Kooldrink, he was the first person I ever recorded with, it was in 2019. And we were just recording different things, like all different types of genres, exploring my sound ‘cause I’ve never done it before. I was always just singing in my room so this was like serious stuff. Then we were just like “why don’t we try Amapiano?” Because I love the genre, I’m always there dancing to it, I was like why don’t we try it? Yeah so basically, first time I tried it, first time Kooldrink tried it, and both of us – it just happened so naturally like we had no expectations for the song. He would just start laying down some beat stuff and I’ll be there in the corner writing. Usually how I work is, I’ll listen to the beat then I’ll put on my recorder and then I just start singing random things. And then when I like something, I use that melody and I start writing to whatever comes out. And then, yeah like, it took a while to get to where the song is now because I am a perfectionist. I went back to that song after weeks, months just to make it proper but yeah, thinking of the concept, literally it just started flowing out of me. Like there are two meanings, I made it more of like a fun type way but it was basically about patience in a relationship but then I made it in a way that’s like “yoh, I’m getting ready, can you wait?” and I wanted to make it fun so people could dance to it and everything. But the process was very fun.
Angelo: I can imagine. I’m not a musician you know, I’m kinda jealous, I wish I was but I can imagine how fun it is just creating magic in the booth like that. Now… the visuals, right? I read that you had some challenges when it came to shooting the music video – so shoutout to getting it done and getting it to where it is now, first of all. How was that process? Because I noticed some familiar faces in your music video from TikTok. So, how was all of that? How did you get everyone together?
Tyla: This is a whole movie yoh [laughs]. So basically last year in January, we began recording the music video and it was in Joburg. We shot some scenes and then Covid hit and then we were like “yoh!”. We were sitting on footage and we wanted to release it, but we knew we had to be patient so we could finish it properly. So lockdown happened, yoh, patience was a struggle. It was just a difficult time because I wasn’t able to do what I enjoy most and it was just very difficult but then when restrictions started lifting, we ended up shooting and finishing it towards the end of the year in Cape Town. So my best friend (The GMNI), who styled the whole thing and everyone in the music video, we were just coming up and down to Cape Town for planning. We had to push back multiple times, like a lot happened. Also because we weren’t given a budget from anyone. We had no investors, so all of the money literally came from our pockets. Some of the things we had to hustle for, others we had to do trades. It took a whole year to finish so you can imagine. We just knew that we wanted the video to be on an international level. We wanted it to stand next to international artists’ videos. And we just wanted to put a lot of effort into the visuals, we wanted to make it a big project. So yeah, then Lee-ché, a friend and an amazing choreographer, came up to choreograph everyone in the video. And then we knew we needed dancers, so then we were searching the streets of Instagram for dancers. I knew I wanted Reece, Matthew, Chelsea, Jessica – I know them from TikTok and they’re amazing dancers. I knew I wanted them. So we got them and then we got other dancers, right here down there, we were doing dance practices for like gang long but it was super fun, like it was a fun experience. It was very big but it was very fun. And then, yeah like the video dropped and things just went mad! Things went mad!
Angelo: Yeah I remember that. I remember when the video first dropped, you were trending! And I was like “what?” because that was a crazy turn, the visuals – I don’t know, maybe there are music videos like that for Amapiano songs – but I have never seen any so that was pretty interesting to see. It looked very fun, very bubbly, very vibrant, so I really enjoyed that. Would you say that these challenges helped you appreciate the video more compared to if you had dropped it in the beginning and didn’t wait as long as you did to get it out there?
Tyla: Definitely! I’m so happy that I waited because it really turned out much better than I ever thought, like my team was crazy. My manager directed and shot the whole thing. We knew we wanted it to be a big video but the way it came out was much better than I expected. So if we didn’t wait, yoh hai… but also, like, it made me appreciate it more because I knew how much work and how much went into it. It was all a group effort and we appreciate it much more because there’s a story behind it, you know? It didn’t come easy.
Angelo: I get that and well, shout out again because it did turn out really good. You said that you wanted your video to be compared to international videos so does that mean you want to be known on an international level? And does that seem kinda scary to you? Or are you ready to be known worldwide? [laughs]
Tyla: I don’t know if I’m ready, I don’t know what to expect. I haven’t even been outside South Africa so this is gonna be very new to me, but it’s definitely a goal. I want to make it internationally but make sure that my roots are still tied with me. So wherever I go I want to bring Africa with me, I want to bring South Africa with me. I want people to know that we have so much over here… we don’t get enough attention. And I haven’t seen like a huge pop star that’s from South Africa and I wanna be the first. Yeah, I wanna be the first and I wanna open that door for future South African artists that wanna do the same.
Angelo: Okay… who would you like to work with, like from South Africa or Africa, seeing that you wanna put your people on with you. Who would you love to work with?
Tyla: Love to work with Nasty C, Tems, Wizkid, Rema, Burna Boy. Uhm, I’m working with a few African artists like Xenia, she’s amazing. And yeah those are just a few that I’d love to work with.
Angelo: And internationally? Do you have anyone specific yet or are you yet to figure that out?
Tyla: Doja Cat, Drake, PARTYNEXTDOOR, DJ Khaled just so he can scream the “DJ Khaled!” [laughs] Uhm, Stormzy, Skepta, like there’s a lot – Chloe x Halle for sure. Yeah, those are just a few.
Angelo: There was a name I was hoping you’d bring up because there’s been a lot of talk around the fact that you remind a lot of people of Ariana Grande because they say you have a very soft voice, or at least in your song, it’s a very soft voice. Also, the video is so vibrant and energetic and it kinda reminds you of that youthful Ariana Grande. Would you say that she inspires you somewhat?
Tyla: I’m not really sure why I get compared to her. Some people say I look like her – I don’t see it, but I mean it’s definitely a compliment. I love Ariana and I listen more to her newer songs, like the slower songs. But I would also love to work with her, you know, She’s very talented, very beautiful. It’s a compliment when people compare you, I’m just like “okay, thank you”. But obviously, I wanna be my own artist, especially because we make very different music. I’m Amapiano, she’s RnB/pop.
Angelo: Yeah totally different parts of the spectrum.
Tyla: Yeah, I don’t think we can be compared.
Angelo: Definitely, I just wanted your opinions on that because I’ve heard that quite a lot of times. There are even YouTube videos of people comparing you to Ariana Grande. So I felt it was a point that I had to bring up because I wanted to see how you feel about it. But yeah, I’ve asked all that I think I needed to ask. Thank you so much for joining us here. It’s great to have the opportunity to interview you.
Tyla: Thank you!
To listen to the single “Getting Late”: https://open.spotify.com/search/tyla
For more about the talented musician, check out her social media accounts, linked below: