The choreographed dance moves to Tyla’s sexy single “Water” put the musician’s fusion of pop and amapiano on the map. In a new interview for Rolling Stone‘s The Breakdown, the South African star shares how she made the viral track — and what she looks for when making music.
“I’m usually driven by the beat. When someone plays me a beat, it has to grab me in order for me to even want to work on it,” she says. “I love listening to beats, singing random things that come to me, and then listening back and choosing what fits best. After, the words just come.”
Tyla said she likes songs that aren’t “direct” lyrically but instead prefers ones that “make you feel something.”
“With ‘Water,’ I just wanted a summer song that everybody could vibe to and have fun to,” she says. “The meaning of the song is frisky: It’s me letting a guy know, ‘Show me what you got to offer. I’m done with all the talk.’ Men will just talk and talk and talk.”
Tyla explains that she went into the studio knowing she wanted “a summer banger.” She cut the track in Cape Town and couldn’t “stop playing it after” and she was shook by the response to the song during live shows.
“As soon as I heard ‘Water,’ I said, ‘It’s over.’ We have the song,” she says. “I would describe ‘Water’ as the song of the year … it’s the sound of Africa. It’s not only for Africa, but it’s for the world … It’s literally me bring Africa to the world.”
The artist said she loves the sound of stacked vocals in music. When making “Water,” she stacked different people’s voices to back her on the chorus. “Bringing other people’s vocals brought out a bigger picture. It made it feel more like a vibe, like a party singing the song,” Tyla says. “It ended up sounding so beautiful.”
As for the viral dances to her song? She says it all came naturally because choreography is “just a part of me.” She also opened up about representing her native country around the world.
“When I was younger, I always wanted to see a pop star from South Africa amongst the Rihannas, Britney Spears, Michael Jacksons,” she says. “I always wanted to see someone from where I was from there. I want to be the biggest pop star for the people back home.
“I always felt that this was going to happen for me, but there was always some level of doubt because I never had that person that opened that door,” she adds. “Basically, I’m trying to be that girl that opens that door.”