Tyla on the success of Water, the rise of Afrobeats and world domination plans
Tyla is taking it right now.
Riding the crest of a wave throughout the last few weeks, the South African singer has experienced a massive breakthrough with her song Water, a slinky bop that melds the worlds of Pop, R&B, Afrobeats and Amapiano together for maximum effect.
Tyla posing with her Official Specialist Number 1 Award for Water with BBC Radio 1Xtra DJ (and Official Afrobeats Chart host) Eddie Kadi and his Strictly Come Dancing partner Karen Hauer (Credit: Official Charts)
Hi Tyla! First of all, congratulations on the success of Water, you must be on cloud 9 right now
Thank you so much! I'm on Cloud 10 right now, it's so exciting.
The song has achieved so much in so little, how have you felt seeing people embrace the song like they have?
It feels very surreal! Like, it's not really happening...but it is. It's very exciting, not just for myself but for South Africa, for Africa. It's a very good time! I've done so many versions [of the Water TikTok challenge], from every angle!
Water is your first Number 1 on the Official UK Afrobeats chart - where were you when you found out?
I actually landed in London and we got the news. I was like, what the heck?! It was crazy. It's literally unbelievable. I've always wanted a Number 1, I've always wanted a charting song, especially in the UK, where I know you guys love amapiano and Afrobeats. The fact that it's happened now? Amazing!
You've also joined a fantastic roster of women to top the Official Afrobeats Chart - Libianca, Tems, your friend Ayra Starr...
It's such an honour, honestly. All these artists, I love [them] to bits. We're pushing the boundaries and culture, especially as women. The fact that I'm one representing South Africa on that chart [too] is amazing. I wanna collab with all of them!
Afrobeats as a genre has had such a moment this year with artists like yourself, Rema, Burna Boy, Asake all achieving international hits - why has Afrobeats taken over now, do you think?
I just feel like the music has always been great, but the world is looking for something new. A new sound. A new vibe. People are just realising [that Afrobeats is what they're looking for], but they're a bit late to the party! The songs are all banging. The artists that are coming out of Africa are banging.
Not even Afrobeats but amapiano, I think we're taking over. Africa is taking over now!
"How did I celebrate getting my first Top 10? I went into the studio to make more Top 10s!"
How does it feel to represent South Africa on the world stage?
It such a blessing. I have so much pride for my country and where I'm from. It's just so exciting that I can open the doors for other South African artists, I want to see how follows and how far we can go with this!
Water has hit the Top 10 in the UK for the first time, it's your first Top 10 single here. How did you celebrate?
I went into the studio to make more Top 10s!
Why do you think Water has become such a cultural phenomenon?
I think it's a new sound! Obviously, we have amapiano, we have Afrobeats, R&B and pop...but I feel like I managed to mix it all together and make something that BANGS. I understand why the world has gravitated towards it. It just seems to be falling into place now.
Honestly, I was working on my album for two years and I knew I needed that banger, that summer single. I think we succeeded!
Be honest, Tyla - have you recorded a Number 1 single?
Definitely! Listen, you guys are not ready. The songs are just...killer. They're all killer.
Have you got anything you'd like to say to the UK fans who have been supporting you and Water?
Thank you so much to my UK Tygas! Top 10? And Number 1 on the Official Afrobeats Chart? You guys are making my dreams come true.
Water is out now.