'People are going to be surprised': Tyla trails debut album

'People are going to be surprised': Tyla trails debut album

Tyla’s debut album arrives this week, and the recent Music Week cover star has promised that it will “bring a completely new sound”.

Tyla, who won the inaugural Best African Music Performance award at the Grammys in February, releases the self-titled record this week via Since ‘93/RCA.

“I always wanted to see an African pop star be like Rihanna or Ariana Grande – someone from Africa on that level,” Tyla told us in an interview for our March cover story

On the album, the Johannesburg-born singer said: “The music is big; I really feel like it’s a new sound completely. Obviously I’m inspired by amapiano and Afrobeats and pop and R&B, but I just feel like the way I – and the people I’ve worked with – manage to fuse it together is in a new, fresh way. I’m excited for people to feel what we feel when we play it back.” 


Arriving off the back of Water, which peaked at No.4 in the UK and has 574,926 sales to date according to the Official Charts Company, Tyla’s album stands to be one of the year’s most significant records.

“I know a lot of artists get tired of their songs because they hear them so many times, but I’ve literally been listening to the album every day and I love it so much”, she told us. “People are going to be surprised at how versatile I am. Obviously, they’ve heard Water and a few of my other songs, but I really feel like I explored a lot with this album.”

“I’ve tried a lot of things and I have played around and people can see a lot of different sides of me,” she added. “I’m really confident in the music that I have. I’m confident in the sound and I know that we’re gonna get another Water – we’re gonna get plenty more – and it’s just gonna get better and better and better!”

Tyla’s signing to Epic preceded Water’s seismic viral impact, and the singer emphasised the fact that she has found a perfect home on the Sony imprint.

“Throughout the whole deal process, [Epic] really believed in what we believed in – they had the same vision for an African artist and they gave me creative freedom,” she said. “It didn’t feel forced, you could really hear in their voice and their actions that they had passion for the project and that was mainly what I was looking for.”

The label’s work to arrange a billboard in her home country particularly impressed Tyla. 

“I remember being in South Africa and getting a video saying, ‘Tyla you are on a billboard,’” she told us. “It was a big picture of me saying, ‘Epic Records, love Sylvia Rhone’, and I mean that sealed it for us – we were already leaning that way, but [after] that it was like, ‘Okay!’”

The singer also stressed the importance of creative control in her artistic process.

“The reason for me doing this is because of something very specific,” she said. “I want to be an African pop star – I don’t want to just be another singer. I want to bring my sound, I want to bring my culture, I want to push the vision and I need creative freedom to do that. I’m heavily involved in everything that I do with visuals and music. I always wanted to have that space, no matter what. It’s just something very important to me in order to actually reach what I see as success.”

Tipped by many as the act who will shape the sound of her continent in the future, Tyla is comfortable with the responsibility that comes with so much hype.

“I love my continent, I respect it, I believe in it so much,” she stated. “I just want people to see and feel what I feel when I listen to African music and see what we have to offer, you know? It’s something I hold close to my heart and I take seriously because I want to break down doors at the end of the day. I always have my best foot forward and just give people magic.”

The rising star also noted her desire to be a role model for artists in the future.

“Me being from South Africa, this thing doesn’t happen all the time,” she said. “It wasn’t easy, but it’s possible. It just shows how anything can be yours if you set your mind to it.”

Subscribers can read the full interview, which also features Epic CEO and chair Sylvia Rhone, president Ezekiel Lewis, RCA and Since ‘93 co-president Glyn Aikins and Tyla’s co-managers Colin Gayle and Brandon Hixon, here.

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