If it seems like the pop star life comes naturally to rising South African singer, Tyla—née Tyla Laura Seethal—it’s probably because it does. “Growing up, I would perform songs for my whole family. I have so many old videos of me belly dancing,” the pop-amapiano-R&B artist tells ESSENCE via phone. “Everyone in South Africa, and Africa in general, grows up dancing. It’s just part of our culture.”
Since then, Tyla has made a name for herself with songs such as “Been Thinking,” and “Girl Next Door” featuring Ayra Starr. She was also the opening act for Chris Brown during his “Under the Influence” tour earlier this year. “I always knew that this was what I wanted to do. My parents didn’t think I was serious. They would tell me to go to school,” Tyla adds. “I get that they were being protective because it’s not everyday that a South African artist has global success. But they ended up letting me do it and believing in me.” And it’s all paying off. When we speak, the 21-year-old is on her way to the airport. She’s heading back home after traveling to London and New York, where she made time for a show at Avant Gardner in Brooklyn and to film the video for hit song song, “Water.”
Out today, the video turns up the heat with ‘fits that nod to the early aughts, a love interest, and, of course, the TikTok viral dance (yes, the water bottle included!) “I really wanted to create a video that felt organic. I wanted something that felt hot and steamy,” she shares about the dance-inducing song and video. It’s also the first time she’s explored a love story in one of her videos. “This is something new for me. I was kind of shy, but I mean, we made it work.” Additionally, one can’t forget the 3 beauty looks she serves throughout: uniquely patterned cornrows, slick-wet curls, and an elegant updo.
But this isn’t the first time Tyla has given us major, nostalgia-dipped beauty inspo. Think: the zig zag, back-length cornrows with blonde-dipped ends for her Vevo performance. And, of course, there’s always her curly mane and silk presses. When it comes to beauty, she’s very inspired by Rihanna, she says. “I love how she always explores different styles. She never limits herself to one thing,” she adds. And, especially when she’s traveling, her must-haves include a trusted body oil, mascara, and lip glosses. “I keep one in all of my bags and pockets. I have too many!” Tyla adds, “and I love glowing and looking moisturized so I have to have body oil any time I take pictures or perform.” And further than this, Tyla prioritizes self-care via going to the gym, a lot of Netflix, and prayer. “I love God, so prayer is huge for me. It’s important for me to have that quiet time as well,” she says.
Up next for this it-girl? She’s keeping the momentum going as she continues working on her upcoming album which you can expect soon. “I’ve been working on it the past 2 years and I’m excited to finally bring it to life,” she says. But, no matter what she’s working on, she knows a thing or two about the importance of having self-love and confidence through it all. “With every new obstacle the industry throws my way, I continue to prove to myself that I’m capable of doing what I want,” she says. And not only that, “I can do it well.”