The creative world of Tlya X An is a trippy reality of sensual darkness and moody eyed seduction.
Tlya X An's music slides between hauntingly silky melodies and vibrant electronic beats. Creating a gritty, surrealist soundscape that matches her equally mind-bending music videos. Yet, meeting Tlya X An in her studio, another side of her personality shines through. This young artist is sensitively aware, consciously driven, and incredibly hard working. As a producer, performer, director, and editor, Tlya X An’s skills appear limitless as she develops a sound and image that are both provocatively playful, and intensely serious.
I’m so grateful for this year, for the time it’s given me. Everything stopped and I was able to ask myself - what do I want to do
Tlya X An launched her debut EP, 404 Not Found, in 2020 after an enviably productive period of lockdown. Tracks such as Kings show off Tlya X An’s signature style of manipulating her vocal range, while 56 Floors to Go reflects her dreamlike ambiance that, at times, feels almost spiritual. Using her production skills to push the limits of commercial music, Tlya X An has built an identity that reflects this liberated, rebellious cry of self-expression. When in front of the camera, Tlya X An is a hypnotic presence, but in the studio, behind the mic, she is militant. A boss of her own world. Expanding the scope of her skills through admirable determination to drive projects from concept to completion.
Positioning herself as a genre-defying commercial artist, Tlya x An’s musical journey began in her home country of Israel (and Occupied Palestine) at the age of 8 when she joined her first band as the lead singer. Gaining unexpected success led them to perform on TV shows, introducing her to the world of entertainment before the band parted ways. By the time Tlya X An was 10, she’d started making her own tracks on GarageBand, writing catchy tunes and looping sounds. One of her first tracks was titled Joseph The Cat, a cute little number that, when asking to hear a clip, defies all expectations of a 10-year-old’s abilities. This talent was something that her parents encouraged, and though Tlya X An can’t recall the memory, they presented her with the option to sign with a label. She refused and chose to continue living her life growing up in Tel Aviv before moving to Bristol with her family at the age of 17.
Despite moving away from the limelight, Tlya X An was always surrounded by musicians. She explains how “my parents come from a world of Jazz, Rock and world music so I’ve always been exposed to a lot of different music”. With her mother working as a voice-over artist and singer, and her father being a music producer and composer known for bringing Palestinian and Israeli artists together, their influence is undeniable. This encouraged Tlya X An to launch herself into studying music production when arriving in the UK, allowing her to engage her mathematical mind, harness new technical skills, and exercise her natural sense of coming up with melodies.
I’m swimming against the stream to find more interesting land
During this time Tlya X An developed her skills in production, songwriting, and video creation by teaming up with her first collaborator who she performed with as a duo under the name My Style. But after a few years, she explained how “It became pretty dark in the end. All I knew was that something big had to happen for my life to move forward in the direction I wanted it to. So I decided to go solo”. Having made this decision, Tlya X An explains how it’s taken time to rediscover who she is as a solo artist. Pulling back the layers to find her own sound and shape. “More and more I’m figuring out what’s the best way to express Tlya X An and her world. I want it to be a whole experience and I want to get it right. So I’m not going to rush it”. From an outside perspective, Tlya X An is currently embodying an intrepid dark side that is also full of light. Leaning into the rebellious side of her artistic character seems to have allowed space for Tlya X An to be experimental with her creativity.
The confidence that Tlya X An possesses as a sonic and visual artist is something that shines through with refreshing determination “It’s always been obvious to me that this is what I'm going to do because it’s what I love. It’s the skill I want to master, to be the best I can be at it”. This heartfelt conviction is matched by an equal amount of humility “I believe in creating your own reality and trying to help spread good energies where you can.” The adventurous nature that Tlya X An embodies is, in many ways, rebelling against the confines which female pop musicians are endlessly boxed into. Merging her feminine sensuality with sci-fi, futuristic visuals, Tlya X An proclaims she is “swimming against the stream to find more interesting land.” With this mindset, it’s not surprising that Tlya X An is as rational and grounded about how others might engage with her work. “Be true to yourself, go for it with no fear.” Recognising the pressure and vulnerability that artists can feel putting their work and themselves out there, Tlya X An shares her philosophy that “it’s always better to do something than nothing. For me mistakes are learning curves, it’s all part of the process.”
I like speaking my emotions through music, focusing on letting them appear in my art
When asking Tlya X An what she has learnt from developing herself as an independent artist, she discusses harnessing a business mindset in line with her creativity to work with others who can help her to grow. “I think having other great minds around you and general support is essential. This is my art but it’s also a business” Tlya X An explains that to do this, she’s continually exploring a middle ground between commercial pop and her own genre-fluid style. Referencing artists such as Grimes as an influence, she explains how “I take inspiration from artists who have a strong personality that maybe not everyone will agree with but their music is so good it doesn’t matter if you like them or not, you still want to listen to them”. With her EP on repeat, we can confirm that Tlya X An is already achieving this, delivering music that swims into your mind, pulses through the body, and leaves you hungry for more.
Check out more of her creations here
Interview by Bethany Burgoyne
Portraits by Mika Smulian, edited by Tlya X An