‘Uproxx Music 20’ & ‘Woledto’

Earlier this year, Palestinian-Chilean artist Elyanna released her debut album Woltedo. The title translates to “I am born,” and signals a moment of rebirth for the young singer, something she full embraced in a conversation with Rolling Stone. “This album is my debut and it lives in its own world,” she told the publication. “Despite being my first, it is a rebirth of myself while serving as the unveiling of Elyanna. It’s something I’ve never heard before, yet it feels nostalgic.”

She went on to say that the album is a “journey through identity, love, rage, and feminism” and that couldn’t be more true. On Woltedo, she bares love, her culture, and her home on her sleeve with not an ounce of regret. Losing her culture and disconnecting from her roots was not an option for Elyanna on Woltedo. Instead, we as listeners are invited to experience her world and the indulge ourselves in its beauty. It’s a task that is equally intriguing and delightful thanks to the album’s elegant nine songs.

Weeks removed from the release of Woltedo, we caught up with Elyanna for our Uproxx Music 20 series to learn more about her and discover her influences, inspirations, and aspirations.

See Previous UPROXX MUSIC 20 Interviews:

What is your earliest memory of music?

I would say that would be my grandpa. My grandpa used to be an amazing singer and I remember going to Palestinian weddings and he would be singing a Zajal, which a very poetic freestyle, I would say. My grandpa is the one that opened my eyes about how an artist is.

Who or what inspired you to take music seriously?

I was born and raised in Nazareth, Palestine and I always wanted to be a singer. It’s something that everybody knew around me — I wanted to be an artist. I was literally like, seven years old and I would tell everybody that that’s what I’m going to be. It’s crazy because in Nazareth that doesn’t happen, really, to anybody. We don’t have these kind of opportunities and I don’t know why. I always felt like that’s what I wanted to do and I was so serious about it, I’ve always been. I always wanted to make music, I always wanted to be an artist, and I can’t see myself doing anything else. I remember before we moved, my dad came and he asked me, “Are you sure? We’re going to take a big step of moving and being here [United States],” and I told them, yes, I want to be a singer. I feel like I let go of everything I know to make my dreams come true, even though it comes with a lot of hard consequences [and] different things that are definitely tough, but if you believe in something, you should always at least give it a try.

Do you know how to play an instrument? If so, which one? If not, which instrument do you want to learn how to play?

When I was younger, I remember trying to play the violin and I was really bad [laughs], so I just stuck to singing. I love piano, I think piano such a beautiful instrument and I am actually learning it right now. I feel like my songs are very piano- and keys-based. My brother played piano when we were younger and he’s also the one that discovered my talents, he has a lot of influence on me. He’s an amazing pianist and he’s releasing his own soundtracks. When we create music together, our base is always piano.

What was your first job?

I think just being a singer that was my first job ever. I started professionally doing it when I was 16 and I think it teaches you so much. It’s not only music, it’s really the business side of it, how to be political, how to communicate with people, and how to express yourself and your art, but be bold and still be polite, nice, and genuine.

What is your biggest fear?

There’s a lot of things that I fear and to be honest, this is very human, I would say, but the people around me that I love, I love so deeply and I always want to make sure they’re good, happy and safe, and that’s something that I always pray for. I’m really, really scared of the ocean and I’m terrified of airplanes.

Who is on your Mt. Rushmore of singers?

Etta James, Fairuz, Lana Del Rey, and Freddie Mercury.

You get 24 hours to yourself to do anything you want, with unlimited resources: What are you doing? And spare no details!

Definitely something that has to do with performing. I think I would be having a big show and, I don’t know what the budgets are in that world, but I would love to have a crazy show where everything is so on point. I would love to be performing, perfecting, rehearsing, and creating. That excites me a lot and I will be eating burgers, that I would love to do.

What are your three most used emojis?


What’s a feature you need to secure before you die?

I love M.I.A. and I love The Weeknd, they are artists I would love to collaborate with. I don’t have that thing where it’s like, “Oh, my favorite feature is…” or “This is what I can’t wait to do.” I love the blend of a good collaboration, two good sounds, and I don’t like when a collaboration is forced. You do what’s best for the song, not what’s best for your career.

If you could appear in a future season of a current TV show, which one would it be and why?

Games Of Thrones because I love that time and even their clothes and what they wear. It’s is a very tough time, but it is very interesting and I feel like it matches my world with the aesthetic. So Game Of Thrones and Skins too

Which celebrity do you admire or respect for their personality and why?

The Weeknd. I know how much he cares and supports Palestine, he donated as well. He’s Ethiopian and he always stands for who he is and his culture and for other cultures, and I really love that. I appreciate a lot of other people that do that, like in our community we have Ramy, who’s a comedian and actor.

Share your opinion on something no one could ever change your mind about.

Nobody can change my mind about my roots, Palestine. Nobody can change my mind about being true to myself as an artist. I’m not afraid to say no to a lot of things. If they don’t make sense to me, my brand, and what I do, then I say no.

What is the best song you’ve ever heard in your life and what do you love about it?

It’s like a piano piece made by my brother that I really love. It’s called “Delilah.” It’s a song that I actually sang on my album. I literally sang his melody from the piano and I put it in my album. It’s called “Kon Nafsak” on my album and I think that’s one of my favorites I’ve heard.

What’s your favorite city in the world to perform, and what’s a city you’re excited to perform in for the first time?

I loved, loved Toronto. There was a certain energy there that I just really, really loved from tour. Before, I wasn’t touring, but singing with an artist, I think one of my favorite cities was Tunisia. The people there, they’re so genuine and they’re so nice and amazing. A city or country I would love to perform would be Palestine. I want to sing in my hometown, I can’t wait for that moment where I am able to sing in my hometown, I think that’s going to be a very unique moment. I would love to perform in Chile too.

You are throwing a music festival. Give us the dream lineup of 5 artists that will perform with you and the location where it would be held.

I’ve had this idea in mind and always thought about it. After doing the Wiltern, I had this thing in mind where hopefully we can keep doing that every year. Every April, I want to throw a show and do a whole festival thing. It’s a special month because it’s Arabic Heritage Month. A lot of Arab Americans or just people that are immigrants or their parents are immigrants, I feel they’re craving an artist that they can relate to, an artist that their parents could relate to. So I feel like we’re missing a voice here and I want to be the voice of these people.

I would love to have artists that present my culture and people that believe in my culture. This year Saint Levant, Issam Alnajjar, and Massari.These are people that always push for the culture and where we come from, and they’ve always been this way. Let’s see what happens next year.

What would you be doing now if it weren’t for music?

I actually don’t know, but I know one thing: I’m such a nerd. I love to study and I love having notebooks and being a student. I’ll never know what I would’ve been, but I know that I’d be really committed to get what I want. I love studying, I know that sounds crazy, but I do love to study. I take notes, I’m that girl that has lists of everything and highlighters everywhere. I don’t know what it would be, but I’ll tell you that I’d be really good at it.

If you could see five years into the future or go five years into the past, which one would you pick and why?

Definitely five years into the future. I don’t like to look at the past, I think the past is the past and it is what it is. I think that the only way for a person to move forward is to look at the future and take influences from the past and put them into your future. Take five years ago, take that as inspiration to push you to the future. I would go five years into the future.

What’s one piece of advice you’d go back in time to give to your 18-year-old self?

To just have a little bit more fun. I feel like at a certain point, I was just so obsessed over my career and where it’s gonna go and where it’s gonna be. I still am, but in a healthier way. I think that when you’re so deep in something, sometimes you can’t see things clearly. I’m just so grateful for the people around me like my sister, my brother, my family and my friends that got me out of that. Now I know how to have fun and have a good time, but be serious about my work and my job. I think it’s the balance between both, knowing how to live and enjoying your work and being able to blend both in a healthy way. So, I would tell myself to chill and have fun.

It’s 2050. The world hasn’t ended, and people are still listening to your music. How would you like it to be remembered?

I would like to be remembered as a rebellious artist, and not in a bad way at all, I think as a positive rebellious artist. Anything I do right now, I think ahead. I think of 20 years from now or more. I think of how I want to be remembered and all the things that I want people that are after me and what I do to take in. I love to make things that are timeless and that’s why my projects take longer to create because I’m really selective and picky about the things that I do. I’m very selective about the people that I include in my world, in my zone, and in my circle. I feel like all that leads to something at the end of the day. I’m just 22, so yes, I don’t know much and I am really experiencing things and experimenting. I’m trying everything and seeing what works and what doesn’t, but it’s good to see that there were footsteps before you. I want to create that for you know the next generation to know that you can do it as well.

Woledto is out now via Salxco. Find out more information here.

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