Tyla Laura Seethal, popularly known as Tyla, was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa. The 21-year-old is the middle child of five and is of Indian, Zulu, Mauritian and Irish descent.
“I’m very passionate about my country, our culture and music; I really believe in it,” she told i-D in July.
The school dropout was ” actually studying Mining Engineering.”
Tyla amassed a following on TikTok during the COVID-19 pandemic by performing dance routines and sharing song covers.
She released her debut song, “Getting Late” with Kooldrink, in late 2019. The track became an instant hit, with its music video quickly amassing millions of views.
“It really took off when we did the video, like crazy, past all my expectations,” Tyla told i-D of her debut song. “It was like zero to one hundred.”
“I really looked up to ’90s singers like Aaliyah, also Rihanna and Cassie. They were artists whose concerts I watched constantly and imagined myself being one day,” Tyla told Rolling Stone in September.
Tyla said her sound has also been influenced by “a lot of South African artists.”
“I loved Freshlyground because I couldn’t believe they were on a song — ‘Waka Waka’ — with Shakira,” she said.
The slick song “Been Thinking” showcased her ability to blend all of the genres she set out to in a fascinating way. “I knew I wanted my sound to be a mixture of pop, R&B, Afrobeats, amapiano,” she says. Her debut single, “Getting Late,” also had a moment online. Those songs, however, did not have the same wide-reaching impact as her current single, which she says has cracked open a world of opportunity. “I’m very busy. Hardly sleep, but I’m having fun,” she says. “A lot of people that I look up to are reaching out, telling me they love the music. It’s just a very exciting time.”
Tyla, who signed to Epic Records in 2021, released “Water” as the lead single from her upcoming debut album in July.
The song went viral on TikTok the following month when Tyla posted videos of herself doing a dance to it choreographed by South African dancer Lee-ché Janecke.
“Water” entered the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 67 in early October, becoming the first solo song by a South African musician to appear on the chart since Hugh Masekela’s “Grazing in the Grass” in 1968.
In February, Tyla was named as the support act for Chris Brown’s Under the Influence European tour.
“Surprise lol,” Tyla captioned an Instagram post announcing the news.
Tyla revealed that when she isn’t working on her music, she indulges in other artistic hobbies.
“I like painting and I love to draw,” she said.
The South African star added that she also loves spending quality time with her family and friends.
“Even going to a movie, ice skating or theme parks. That’s what I love doing,” she said.
In an interview with Apple Music’s “The Dotty Show” in October, Tyla said her “biggest ick” is “seeing a guy’s crack.”
“No way. Like why is your crack showing?” she said. “I can’t. It’s just like, why can’t you feel the breeze? Do you not know that your whole crack is out?”
In October, Tyla revealed that she would like to go on a date with Nigerian Afrobeats sensation, Rema.
The ‘Water’ crooner said, “Rema would be cute. I hung out with him last year, and we took pictures together. That was so dramatic.
“After that situation I realised that Hollywood is just vibes like you can’t trust everything you see cause that looked like a scandal. Even I started believing [we were dating]. But we are just friends.”
Though Tyla’s debut EP has no name or release date yet, she told “The Dotty Show” that fans can expect the project to drop “very soon.”
“I’m ready to show everyone, for real,” she said. “‘Water’ is killing it, and I just want people to have more music out that’s my sound and vibe so they can get to know me as an artist.”
“I don’t wanna just be a song, so I’m very excited,” she added.
“I really would love people to be able to say the biggest artist right now is from Africa. You know like born and raised, what the heck? We haven’t had that,” Tyla told i-D.
Tyla is moving beyond social with the release of the music video for “Water” and her upcoming EP, due in November. The video, she says, will maintain the vibes of her frenzy-causing TikToks—it still features Bacardi along with direct references to the trend she kicked off.
“There’s a lot of moments in the video that people will catch on like the flower that I’m wearing and how it’s from the challenge,” she says. “There’s a lot of things that came with the song that we incorporated in the video.”
The South African singer is one of the latest examples of the reach of Afrobeats. From superstars like Burna Boy and WizKid reaching new heights constantly to Rema’s song “Calm Down” finding a massive audience thanks to a viral dance challenge last year and a remix featuring Selena Gomez to women like Tems and Ayra Starr bringing their specific musical styles, the genre has seen an expanded audience across the world. Tyla joins the ranks, leaving a mark on the industry with a viral moment.
Tyla herself has become a viral sensation, with her own videos amassing about 65 million views each. Other videos she has posted of herself doing the dance drew in tens of millions of views each. On TikTok’s official Viral 50 chart, the song sits at No. 9.
“Usually, this dance style is not paired with this type of music, but I felt it would fit so well,” she tells TIME. “We ended up trying this, and it looked so good that we started performing it with water.”
The song ”Water” blends pop, R&B, Afrobeats, and amapiano in its sound. It has dancers shake their hips and kick their legs before pouring a bottle of water down their backs to the lyrics, “Make me sweat, make me hotter, make me lose my breath, make me water.”
HOW TO DO THE ”WATER” DANCE BY TYLA
- First, Tyla you need to move your waist, but make sure you add a gallop to it.
- Second, you must raise both of your arms up and then wipe your forehead — as if you’re sweating of course.
- Third, you need to hop on your dominant foot, with the flair of a South African dancer.
- And finally, everyone’s favorite part, you simply shake your bum!